When I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. After my first trip to Estonia, I wanted to travel. Sports and travel have been a part of my life – but not necessarily at the same time.
When this travel blogger relay came along, I was eager to join the race. Sure, I have a lot of travel moments.
However, I need to warn you – I am not going to share my top 3 travel memories.
I love sports and like to compete. I also like to be different. I don’t want to do things like everyone else. The Olympics are the greatest sporting event in the world but I am competing for a different type of medal.
You see, a big part of my blog focuses on sports and travel. There are very few travel blogs or sports sites that combine two of the most popular topics in the world. And while I love hiking, budget travel, destinations, and seeing the world, I can’t deny that sports are a big part of my life.
As part of the Lowcostholidays travel relay, my muscles are warm, my adrenaline is pumping, and my game day face is on. So here they are – my top 3 sports and travel memories.
Bronze medal – Barcelona FC vs Real Zaragoza
In 2006, I was struck with a strange disease. Growing up in the US, I had never experienced this in my life. The symptoms were similar to other things I had experienced. However, this was different.
I started showing signs in May. By June, the disease had taken over.
I had World Cup fever.
A few years later, this disease has spread and completely overtaken me. I am now a passionate soccer (aka football) fan). While the symptoms began in June 2006, I fully contracted the disease in 2007.
In September 2007, I watched Barcelona play Real Zaragoza at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona along with 95,000 Catalan fans. I wore my jersey, watched some of my favorite players, and experienced one of the best travel experiences of my life.
Since then, football has become my second favorite sport. I watch matches, follow the news, get the highlights, wear jerseys of my favorite teams, and even cried when Chelsea won the Champions League last year.
Even though many may not understand this life-long disease that I’ve now contracted, that match in Barcelona taught me something – sporting events are one of the best ways to connect with locals when traveling.
Even if you don’t enjoy sports all, attending a sporting event is one of the best travel experiences you may ever have.
Silver medal – 1995 World Series Game 1 Cleveland Indians vs the Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves win the silver medal here – 30 minutes ahead of Barcelona. That’s how much time I’ve spent watching Braves videos from the 1990s before I wrote about Barcelona’s bronze medal.
During my junior year in college, the team I had followed my entire was back in the World Series. Sitting in my apartment on a Fall Saturday morning, I bought two tickets to Game 1 of the World Series.
Just a week earlier, it was Fall Break at the University of South Carolina. I went on my first solo road trip to watch the South Carolina Gamecocks play the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville. OK to be completely honest, I went to visit a girl for the weekend. However, my Gamecocks happened to be playing her school the weekend of my visit.
A week later, I listen to the radio as the Gamecocks beat Vanderbilt while I am on the road to Atlanta. My Gamecocks flag was flying. I lost a hubcap somewhere along the freeway when my car hit the median because Donny and I were taunting our rival fans on the way to Atlanta.
Yet nothing could ruin my weekend. I was at Game 1 of the 1995 World Series as I watched the Braves beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 behind an outstanding pitching performance from Greg Maddux. A few days later, the Atlanta Braves would win their first and only World Series title since my birth. Not a bad week for my first sports and travel road trips.
It wouldn’t be my last.
I got goose bumps watching this one again.
Gold medal – The College Football Travel Tour
As a kid, I loved college football ever since that first game in Williams-Brice stadium in 1984. In 1995, I fell in love with travel.
In October 2011, I put my two greatest passions together.
As I stepped off the plane in Seattle, something felt right. I walked around the beautiful campus of the University of Washington as the Fall colors, cool temperatures, and the spirit of football filled the air.
Over the next few days, I watched the Washington Huskies play the Oregon Ducks. I met sorority girls picking up trash and experienced door after door open to this incredible opportunity.
In November, I visited my alma mater, the University of South Carolina, and watched my team beat our rival, the Clemson Tigers. While I was in town, I connected with two sports writers. Those connections led to my first radio interview on my hometown sports station.
In December, I got goose bumps at the Naval Academy as I watched one of the greatest college football rivalries of all time – Army vs Navy. Annapolis welcomed me with open arms. I hung out with the lead singer of a band and was treated like a rock star all weekend by the people of the city.
This year, this passion became something bigger than I ever thought it would be. This dream has become a travel series as Expedia has come on board to sponsor the 2012 College Football Travel Tour.
Now I will be traveling all over the country, attending some of the best college football games and rivalries in the nation, and showing people why this series is much than a football game.
This has become that moment that I’ve worked and trained for my entire life. This is the greatest sports and travel memory of my life. And I am still living it.
Honorable mentions and passing the baton
As I reflect on travel and sports memories that are worthy of these medals, I want to thank a few guys who didn’t make it here but deserved recognition. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the chance to hang out with Scottish Games professional athletes and tell their story.
These guys treated me like a friend. My time with them brought tears to my eyes. And as big as these guys are, I definitely need to say thanks.
Thanks to Dawn for passing the baton to me after sharing her top travel memories. As I relish in these life changing moments, I am still living out my sports and travel memories. I’ve finished my race and bow to my coach Christina Hegle as I pass my baton to The Wherever Writer.