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Travel Blog

The 2012 Olympics in Manchester?!

August 30, 2012
Jerick at the Olympics

Yes, you heard it right.. Manchester!

While everyone was or wanted to be in London for the Olympics last month, I decided to go the “off the beaten path” and go instead to Manchester for the games. 🙂

There weren’t many options anyway – I’m one of the few lucky ones to score a pair of tickets to a game at all. Manchester or London –  I just couldn’t turn down an opportunity to be in the Olympics.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

Aside from London, the Olympics actually happen in places outside the capital city. There was sailing in Dorset for example and football practically anywhere with huge arenas like Newcastle, Cardiff and Manchester.

While we didn’t have tickets to see the Olympic superstars like Usain Bolt & Michael Phelps nor the sexy ladies playing beach volleyball, the fact that I got tickets, I couldn’t care less.

The tickets I got was to see the football quarter finals. It was an expected set for a Spain and “another team” but La Roja didn’t get in. In the end, it was a game between Japan and Egypt.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

It was an adventure I can’t miss – so together with Roy of the Riding Dutchman – we went on an epic weekend to the UK!

Manchester’s Old Trafford was 70,000+ people full – and probably only 10% were Japanese or Egyptians. There were mostly English, Spanish and some who, like me and Roy, are just there for the games. 🙂 This meant that all cheers were neutral, and everyone was just waiting for a goal.

There were times were almost no one paid attention to the game and just waiting for their turn to do the mexican wave.

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And with that crowd, I can say that the waves WERE the highlight of the game. 🙂

The game didn’t disappoint though. The first ten minutes of the game, there was already a goal. Then a red card was given before the end of the first half. The game finished with 3-0 for Japan.

It was a win-win for all – for the players for putting a good game and for the audience who were given a shot to shout GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! several times.

But because of our limited time, we didn’t get to see Manchester. But hands down, Manchester played a good host and we felt everyone was really welcoming. Public transport to and from Old Trafford to the centre was free. There were free maps, ponchos in case it rained, and smiling volunteers everywhere.

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The game only lasted two hours but it’s a memory that I’ll keep for a while. Happy to finally tick-off the Olympics in my non-existent bucket list.

Oh and yes, I bought myself a gold medal. I’ll proudly show this to my grandkids someday. 🙂

(A special thanks to Roy btw for letting me use his photos on the blog)

Have you been to the Olympics? How was your experience – share them below!

 

Travel Blog

My Top Three Travel Experiences

August 26, 2012
morocco

Posting on a Sunday you say?! Well, well – I’ve exchanged my usual chill out, sleeping til the afternoon Sunday for a blog writing + tea sipping afternoon. I have good travel blogger friends Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds  and Brendan of Wanders of the World to thank for that.

After grabbing beers with these guys a couple of weeks ago, I (drunkenly) join the awesome group of Team Purple for Lowcostholiday’s Blogger Relay.

The rule of the game is simple – rank your top three travel memories then pass on the baton to another travel blogger. So far, I’ve read a lot of interesting experiences from my team mates, and now it’s my turn to share my stories. 

Bronze : Football – London 2012 Olympics

 

The bronze medal goes to watching the 2012 Olympic games live.

Being at the Olympics has been a dream since I was a kid. And since moving back to Brussels early this year, I knew that I won’t let this one pass knowing that the games are only 3 hours away.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

I eventually ended up watching the football quarter finals in Manchester’s Old Trafford and seeing the women’s marathon in London the day after. The atmosphere was great – Old Trafford was full with 70,000 screaming fans and the game winner, Japan, eventually was fourth overall. The games were highly organized and the streets were full of smiling English people – which I guess came from how proud they were of the games.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

While I’ve only seen two games it’s already a worthwhile visit. It’s these moments of seeing history unfold in front of you is one of the rewarding notes of travel. The Olympics happen only every four years and seeing it is a story that I will tell my kids and grandkids about.

Silver : “100 meter freestyle” swimming with Whale Sharks

 

One of my most memorable travel experiences to date was swimming with the whale sharks in Donsol. This experience was turning point in my own appreciation of travel.

Donsol

First, it was because it opened my eyes to the opportunities of travel within my own country. The Philippines is known for its untouched beaches, diverse wildlife, eclectic sceneries and culture. I’m lucky to call this country my home and in the past years, I’ve been working on also discovering my backyard.

Every January to June of the year, groups of whale shark visit the waters of the once sleepy town of Donsol. The encounter tours are arranged through the town’s tourism office, and after getting briefed on the dive, you are brought to the open seas. It’s a cat-and-mouse race as it all relies on your luck to spot whale sharks. We only had two encounters during our trip, but it was all worth it.

Second, I clearly remember that on that same boat, I met Nathan, an English backpacker, who at 25 years old has already travelled to 70 countries. I remember being inspired from what he had accomplished yet equally hopeless knowing that this may never happen to me. But still, I made a promise then – that I too will travel the world someday.

Little did I know that now that I’m 25 – I’m actually living the life that I only hopelessly dreamt four years back. It was a dream turned to a reality – and through this blog – I hoped that I too, like Nathan, will inspire others to do the same.

Gold : “Modern Travel Icositepentathlon*” – 25 by 25

 

Finishing my 25-country challenge definitely brings home the gold.

The race was long but I finally got to the finish line last June. The journey spanned to more than four continents, hundreds of cities and millions of miles. I’ve seen beautiful places, met awesome people and learned a lot more about the countries I stayed in and the rest of the world that is waiting to be discovered.

Sahara Desert - Morocco

I’ve seen the sunrise in Angkor Wat and sunset in the Sahara desert. I’ve sense the movement of time from the ancient cities of Rome to the modern skylines of Hong Kong. It was a whirlwind of a journey, something that I can’t really narrate in a short post but the entire journey definitely counts as one very long travel memory.

Hong Kong at night

Finishing this goal affirmed my belief that you don’t need to be rich to see the world nor devote your time solely for travel. I’ve done it with a full-time job and with often shallow pockets – but I made it, and other people like you can do it too! What you need is dedication, careful planning and strong drive to see the world.

At the end of the goal, I realized that it was not a sprint but a marathon – It’s not how fast you finished but it’s about the journey.

That’s it for this set – and now I’m passing the #teampurple baton, halfway across the world, to Josh and Caroline of Travelling 9 to 5. Keep the Team Purple baton going!

What are your top three travel moments? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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