Hi, Paul here, the owner of Symonds Sports Travel!
Who Am I?
Paul’s Sports Experiences
My aim is to visit 100 different sports events around the world and to experience sport in each country I visit. Where possible, I like to try and see and experience each country’s national sport, whether it be as a spectator or participant.
You can follow my progress by checking the list below and you can also follow each sports travel experience to read and view the experience report. I would love to hear your suggestions on the countries I should visit and the sport I need to try in that country!
1. Attend a F1 Formula One Grand Prix
Task complete: Attended the Barcelona Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The dream still though is to attend the Singapore F1.
2. Attend an American Football Game
Task Complete: It was a great experience seeing the Miami Dolphins vs the New England Patriots many years back when the Dolphins played in the Joe Robbie Stadium.
More recently, I got taken to a Baltimore Ravens at the M&T Bank Stadium.
If you love sports and are visiting the United States, I strongly recommend going to at least one American Football game.
It is much more than just the game, with what is known as Tailgate parties a fantastic part of the overall experience of the day. It’s a huge party that happens before the game and people use the boots of their cars to get out the BBQs, beer and so on.
3. Rugby: Go to a Rugby World Cup Match
Task Complete: Was there at a New Zealand vs France Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff, Wales in 2015.
France knocked the favourites New Zealand out to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
4. International Cricket Match
Task Complete: Attended and watched an Austalia v India cricket match in Sydney, Australia.
Also watched England vs India at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
If you are new to cricket, then I suggest getting tickets for a one-day match, as some matches go on for 5-days!
5. El Clasico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid Football
Task Complete: Attend an El Clasico match between the big rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. This is one of the greatest football (soccer) rivalries in the world.
6. Watch a Professional Ice-Hockey Game
Task Complete: Whilst living in Finland for six months, I got to go to an IFK Helsinki pro ice hockey match at Helsinki ice hall.
Much like in Canada and Sweden (countries with cold winters), ice hockey is a very popular sport in Finland and if you want to see the passion of the Finnish people, visit an ice hockey game!
7. Watch Live Horse Racing
Task Complete: Whilst seeing the Kentucky Derby (USA), Grand National (England) and the Melbourne Cup (Australia) would all be great to experience, it was still nonetheless a great experience visiting Seoul racetrack in South Korea for a race meet.
The racecourse is set in a scenic location and it’s a fairly simple track to access from the centre of Seoul. It’s a good day out if you are in the city.
8. Watch a Summer Olympics Event Live in Person
Task Complete: During the London 2012 Olympics we managed to get tickets and to attend the Great Britain versus Japan football match.
Some events took place outside of London and this game took place in the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
9. Go Skiing in Colorado
I’m really not very good at all when it comes to skiing but I gave it a go on Copper Mountain in Colorado, in the U.S.
I stayed in Winter Park, a quaint and small village that is worth visiting if you have the chance, if you are interested in meeting the locals.
10. Attend a Major Tennis Tournament
Key Biscayne was a wonderful setting to watch the Miami Open in Florida, in the States.
It was great to have a chance to watch the Argentine Gabriela Sabatini in person. If you are wondering what happened to Sabatini you can find out here.
11. Go to a Baseball Game in the USA
My first experience of seeing a live baseball game was in 1994 with a visit to the Shea Stadium to see the NY Mets vs the Houston Astros.
It was a few years ago but the start of a love affair with sports and hot dogs!
12. Baseball – This Time in South Korea
My next foray into the world of baseball was to see the LG Twins in Seoul, South Korea, whilst working there for two years as a business English teacher.
13. Snowboarding in Yongpyong Resort, South Korea
The coldest I have ever felt in my life was experiencing minus 22 Celsius whilst attempting to learn to snowboard, in the ski resort of Yongpyong Resort, South Korea.
It’s a fantastic country and a great ski resort and you have to try the kimchi if you visit Korea.
It’s one thing looking the part as I perhaps do above, but snowboarding is not the easiest thing I’ve ever tried as a beginner!
14. Attending a Game at the European Football Championships
In 2004, we managed to get tickets for a couple of games in Lisbon, Portugal and these were:
- England v Croatia (group stage)
- England v Portugal (quarter final)
There was a fantastic pre-match atmosphere and it was a fantastic tournament, won by Greece in the end.
15. Attend a Moto GP Race
With a friend who worked as a marketing manager for the ‘Team Roberts’ MotoGP team at the time, it meant the chance to be in the pit garage during the qualifying for the Spanish MotoGP.
Watching from the team pits is quite an extraordinary experience and the thing that was especially interesting was how small the pits actually feel.
Place a formula one car in the pits garage and there’s not much room for anything else. It’s a little more spacious of course for a MotoGP bike but it’s not like what you see on TV.
The garages from another viewpoint that I took.
16. International Football Euros Qualifier
Attending a Euros qualifier was another experience in Barcelona, where we watched Andorra vs England in 2007.
Taking place on a wet and windy night at the Olympic Stadium (home of RCD Espanyol), this was also one of Steve McClaren’s last games as England manager.
17. Tour the Johan Cruijff Arena Stadium
One thing I love to do (and I have somehow got Valeria the wife interested also in them now) is to visit the best sports stadiums around the world.
One stadium I particularly enjoyed seeing was Amsterdam Arena, home of Ajax football club.
The stadium is compact and I can imagine a quite incredible for a game when bhe stadium is packed out. It’s also a fascinating stadium in terms of modern design and how they use technology.
And here below is Valeria (wife) sat in the press conference area in the stadium.
18. Visiting the Home of the Mighty Plymouth Argyle, England
I may be slightly biased having been born in Plymouth, England, but there is nothing like supporting your home club.
The mighty Plymouth Argyle will always be my number one football team and it was a pleasure to take my Sicilian wife Valeria to experience a pre-match lunch and match tickets for a game at Home Park, the mighty Greens home stadium.
19. Tour of the Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
The home of Bayern Munich football club, the Allianz Arena is a popular tourist attraction in its own right.
In 2019, we had found ourselves in Munich and we finally got to the do the tour.
You might notice that it’s Valeria in many of the pictures now and that’s because I’m the one who seems to end up taking all of the photos. I must ask Valeria to start taking some of them!
Our Upcoming Sports Travel Plans
The next 5 sporting events and experiences we are planning for 2021 and 2022 are as follows:
- Visit the Singapore F1 Grand Prix
- Watch the Ironman event in Kona, Hawaii
- Try cross-country skiing in Finland or Sweden
- Try scuba-diving in Koh Samui, Thailand
- Tour the Singapore Sports Museum