As you know, Melissa and I went to South Bend, IN last weekend for the Notre Dame/Ga Tech game. It was something that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When we found out that the two teams were playing there, we jumped on the opportunity and Melissa, being the Ga Tech alum, jumped on the tickets. We were determined to make the most out of the weekend since it was the first girls’ trip we had taken together in 22 years. We stayed in the heart in of Chicago and commuted to South Bend for the game. Here is what you need to know if you ever go see football in South Bend.
Stay in Chicago
Chicago might now be my new favorite city to visit. I’m sure it helped that we had virtually perfect weather. I would say that I could live there, but who are we kidding? I couldn’t handle the winter. Anyway, there is so much to do in the Windy City and it’s only a 1 hr. 40 min. drive to South Bend.
Rent a Car
We explored many options for how to get to the game from Chicago. There was 1) the train 2) the GA Tech bus 3) rent a car. We didn’t want to be on anyone else’s time table, so we rented a car. It soon became known as the Minion Mobile because of it’s size and ability to turn on by itself, but it got us to and from the game safely! There are car rental places all over Chicago so it is very easy! The drive itself was a piece of cake.
Such a breeze. Just pull into a lot and walk (parking is $15-$30). It’s really not that far of a walk and you get to see parts of the campus that you might not have seen if you hop on the bus. Bring good walking shoes. This was a dilemma as we were debating between running shoes and cute shoes. We are both so glad that we opted for the running shoes!!!
Indiana is on Eastern Time, Not Central
The game started at 3:30 and we got there around 12:45. Don’t be fooled in thinking that because Chicago is on Central Time that Indiana is as well. We were on one of the many beautiful quads and heard two poor girls finally putting together that the reason why it felt like they had lost an hour of time was actually because they were in the Eastern Time zone. Bless their hearts. Go ahead…read between the lines on that one.
Leave Enough Time to Explore the Notre Dame Campus
If you have the opportunity to watch football in South Bend, you have to leave enough time to explore the Notre Dame campus. I have been to a handful of college campuses and I don’t think I have seen one that compares. That’s right…even Alabama. There are quads after quads. The green space is just incredible. The buildings are beautiful and then….then you come to the Gold Dome and Cathedral.
You go into the Gold Dome (which is basically the administration building) and are amazed at the detail of the building. You go to the rotunda and look up. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that Michaelangelo painted the inside of the dome. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Be sure to check out Notre Dame’s game day schedule to hear the trumpets play inside the dome too!
After the dome, we went right over to the Cathedral. On the outside door of the cathedral, you read “God. Country. Notre Dame.” I got chills. It was real. We were really here!! We walked inside and my jaw just dropped. The inside looked like it belonged in Italy. There really are no words to describe it.
After those two highlights, we walked (and walked) to the bookstore to get my son a hat. It was absolutely packed, but they have a system to get you in and out without elevating your blood pressure. Last on our “to do list” before the game was, of course…
Touchdown Jesus!! Touchdown Jesus is a mural that was painted on the side of the library that faces the Knute Rockne entrance of Notre Dame Stadium. There were people everywhere taking pictures in the “touchdown pose”, although we opted for a traditional picture!!
I was shocked that the visitor’s section gave the best views of the dome and Touchdown Jesus in the background. I would have thought that Notre Dame alum and fans would have the premium view. Then it hit me…everyone that we talked to and met on campus was just so nice. It’s so like the good Catholics to give the views to their guests!! If you go, make sure you get a seat with the good view. There is nothing like it!!! There is lots of tradition inside the stadium and tributes to players of years past. Very classy.
I think Melissa would agree with me on just about everything I have written, except that the game was everything we had hoped for. I wanted a win. So did she. Well, Notre Dame came out on top so I was a little happier at the end of the game. The game itself had such a different feel from any other football game I had gone to. The crowd was much more subdued and the stadium was still packed toward the end of the 4th quarter…two things that don’t always happen in SEC games! We should have expected that as the crowd outside the stadium and around campus was similar. Overall, this was such an incredible experience and one that I will remember for the rest of my life!