Ever since i started playing football, and automatically following the Pittsburgh Steelers almost 15 years ago, i have been dreaming (both day and night) with once getting to watch a live Steelers game at home. The last few years this dream became even more intense, after watching the Steelers win two more rings, and getting my cousin to share this same passion.
2012 for me was quite like for the Steelers, started promising, but in May while playing a game i broke my Achilles Tendon, (for which i am still having some issues), then it got infected and needed a second surgery, and a very promising work experience was blown away due to some inept guys at my company’s main branch.
That’s when i decided something had to be done, i needed to end the year on a positive note, talked with my cousin and we decided this was going to be the year we would fulfill the dream.
After some good planning, on November 8th our flight took off and by Friday 9th we were stepping on Steeler Nation Capital, wearing our jerseys and really excited for what the next 20 days had in place for us.
There was no way our trip could have started in a better note, no more than 10 minutes after arriving, a guy (who i am really thankful to) saw us with our jerseys on, came to us, and told us Hines Ward had just walked by us, i could not believe that, and we started walking back, we thought he might have walked into some VIP room or something like that, when another guy came to us and told us the same. Once again we started walking the other way... and there he was.
Hines could not be a nicer guy, he hang up his phone and started talking with us, he was amazed on how far we had traveled, he even asked if we had a camera (which incredibly we didn´t because we had just bought cell phones and cameras and sent them to our friends house), but we got our jerseys signed by him, and just getting to know the guy made the trip worth it.
After that lucky moment we took a taxi and went to our friends place in Oakland and started getting to know Pittsburgh.
I must admit i didn´t actually have very high expectations on the city itself, the whole purpose of coming to Pittsburgh was getting to know the place that gave birth to my beloved Steelers. But i was immediately proven wrong and blown away by the city of Pittsburgh, from the great entrance at Fort Pitt Tunnel, the views from Mt. Washington, the beautiful architecture, the University area with that great Cathedral of Learning.
Something i did know by some comments here in BTSC was something i got to confirm fortunately, and that is how warm all yinz are :). Everyone in Pittsburgh made me feel at home, everyone was great to us, and it became even more evident when we said we were foreigners traveling over 5000 miles to get to see the Steelers.
On Saturday we started with some of the suggestions i got here in BTSC and on the morning we went to the Strip District, then had lunch at the original Primantti´s, bought some Steelers memorabilia in the district, after that we headed to the Monongahella incline, enjoyed Mt. Washington, and went for dinner to Mike and Tony´s Gyros.
Next day on Sunday we had our first visit to Heinz Field, we could not make it in, but we got to see it on a bright sunny day, took some pictures with the chiefs statue, and after that some nice lunch at Jerome Bettis Grille 36. But the best was yet to come.
On Monday Night Heinz Field was waiting for us, unfortunately the weather that had been very nice on us the first days, turned cold and rainy on the night of the game which didn´t allow for much tailgating. But in turn i got to spend more time in the great hall which was magnificent. Really enjoyed my time there.
By that moment i was beyond ecstatic, almost 15 years of dreaming were about to become true, we just went to our seats and by the time they were announcing the Defensive players i can swear i almost started crying... needless to say, when i started listening the beginning of Renegade was another high moment. I am not going to go much into the game itself, you already know that story, Ben Injured, won the game on overtime...
The following day we headed to Washington and New York, making it back just in time to go to the Ravens game, no Ben, no win, but still something i will never forget. As we wanted to get to know a bit more, we went the following day to Chicago, and came back for the Thanksgiving dinner.
What came that friday is one more thing i will never forget, and that is the sight of the 6 Lombardi trophies all together at the Heinz History Center on that Gridiron Glory display of the Hall of fame.
That weekend would be our last in the U.S. and we started it by visiting Canton and the Hall of fame, and on Sunday we would watch our last game, which was the Browns debacle at Cleveland, not my fondest memories after having Browns fans all over me, but still a great experience.
The last day we enjoyed what i believe is one of the greatest architectural pieces in the world, and its so close to Pittsburgh, Wright´s Fallingwater is definitely the best house i have ever visited, if by any chance you live in Pittsburgh and have still not gone there, please do, you will not regret it.
Before leaving i promised i would post here how this all went, and there is so much more to tell, but this has already gone to long, if you kept reading all the way down here, thanks so much, it is great to share this kind of stuff with the people that may understand what drove us into making this kind of trip.