3 Ways Sport Brings Travelers & Locals Together

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Sport is a universal thing. And the best thing is you don’t have be a mad sports fan to get together with the locals in front of a football game or get involved in some activity yourself.

I’m definitely no sportswoman (my teachers would’ve failed me in Physical Education if they could have) but even I have a great collection of traveling experiences centered on sport. So, one-eyed sports fans and couch potatoes alike, read on.

Visiting During a Big Sports Competition

Back when the 2002 FIFA World Cup was on, I accidentally booked a trip to Seoul for the week of the finals — South Korea was the co-host. Not being a soccer/football fan, I had no idea at all and thought I might have made a huge mistake. Yes, the place was full, although fortunately the football fans were staying in fancier places than my hostel so accommodation wasn’t a problem; but it definitely wasn’t a mistake.

© The_Adventures_of_Steph en_Heckman

Instead, I got caught up in the fever. Everybody was so happy and I ended up wearing a supporter’s T-shirt and cheering for South Korea while they played in the semi-finals — I joined a crowd of one million in central Seoul, watching the game on big screens. Locals shared their snacks with me, another gave me a bit of newspaper to sit on, and some teenagers taught me the Korean cheer songs. So even for someone like me who could barely follow the rules of the game, visiting during such a big competition was actually perfect timing.

Football follows me, because when I lived in Germany the 2006 World Cup grabbed everybody’s attention, and my own Australian team was based just a few villages away from me. This time I took advantage of my nationality and waved an (often lone) Aussie flag at the outdoor viewing sessions for the games — and that got the locals to come up and chat with me about the fortunes of my team. I even made friends with a local police officer who was so amazed that a real Australian was watching the game in his hometown.

So don’t be scared of booking a trip that coincides with a big sports tournament. As long as you make sure you’re not going to be hindered by impossibly rare or expensive accommodation, or an overloaded transport system (during an Olympics might not work, for example), then you might find it’s the time when the locals are happiest to meet new people and there’ll be much more excitement and action than any other time.

Learning About the Local Sports

For all those non-cricket playing nations: before you go to India, learn about cricket. If you’re traveling pretty much anywhere else in the world: understand soccer (but call it football). With these basic skills, you will be able to fit in with locals in a good majority of the world. All the friends I have who’ve traveled through India came back with photographs of themselves playing cricket with the local kids, who seem to play it endlessly and anywhere. Same goes for football across South America or Europe.

When I visited Saint Petersburg in Russia, I discovered a sport that I still want to learn more about. I spent a whole morning watching a gang of locals play a really unusual sport in some outdoor alleyways just outside the Peter and Paul Fortress. The sport — someone claimed to have known the name and told me, but it remains a mystery to me — seemed to be a distant cousin of bowling, played with a long stick and a bunch of small pipes that were set up in various formations at one end of a long strip of concrete, and should be knocked backwards off the concrete. The locals let me have a go (I was useless, it was much harder than it looked) and tried to explain the rules, but my Russian didn’t get that far at all. But it certainly put another spin on a famous tourist attraction.

Keep a look out for what activities the locals are up to and try to get involved. You’ll learn about their culture and habits as well as just a simple sport.

Catching the ‘Bee © Tom Chambers

Joining a Frisbee Game in the Park

Just for the record, I’m usually too shy to do this myself, but I’ve met quite a few people who’ve been brave enough to ask to join my Frisbee game. Of course, what I really mean is that whenever you see a bunch of people throwing a ball or model plane or something around in a park, you could ask if it’s okay to join in with them. Locals who are relaxing on the weekend or after work are often really open to meeting new people and giving you some tips on what else you could get up to in their town.

Once you get involved with any local games, be sure to make the effort to get a conversation going. I’ll always remember a guy in Germany who seemed really pleasant, and asked to join the Frisbee game I was having with three or four friends, but then he never said another word. We were having a fairly muddled English and German conversation anyway, but he just put his head down and threw the disc back whenever it reached him, then smiled and walked away when we said we had to get home. Perhaps it was his first effort to follow my tips!

Sport is the Great Equalizer

Depending on you how you approach things, sports could create all kinds of conflict; but if you take the right tactics, you can use the relaxed nature of sports to build a bridge to local cultures and local people. If you’ve had any experiences with creating connections using sports while you travel, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

The post 3 Ways Sport Brings Travelers & Locals Together appeared first on Vagabondish.

London’s Saturday Broadway Market

Broadway Market

Broadway Market, London

London is full of great weekend markets, one of them being Broadway Market.

Like with nearly every market in the city, there’s a history that goes with it. Beginning in the 1890′s, people on Broadway Market street (before it had the name) started selling all sorts of things, mostly good quality food.

The market continued to develop and was a well-known spot in London for fresh fruits and vegetables, and a place where you could get tradition food, and socialize with the community.

But as time moved on and London modernized, Broadway Market started to fade. In the 1980′s, with the economy not doing so well, the market pretty much came to an end.

The good news is, starting in 2004, there was a renaissance, and the market was relaunched, this time as a Saturday market each week.

Now, most vendors open from 9 am – 5 pm each Saturday.


Great place to buy produce

When I was in London, we headed over one Saturday morning to walk around and sample some of the food available.

There were a number of fresh meat and vegetable vendors, many selling high quality organic produce.

I wanted to buy it all, but since I had no kitchen, I went directly for the prepared food, which makes up the majority of the market.

smoked salmon

I’m always a lover of smoked salmon

My first snack was a beautiful slice of smoked salmon from the Atlantic, on a slice of extremely crusty bread.

The salmon was stacked on top of the bread, topped with a spoon of sauce that tasted like a combination of cream cheese and mayonnaise, and finally a piece of fresh dill.

It was amazing!

Snacks for sweets lovers

Snacks for sweets lovers

There were all sorts of delicious English sweets and cakes, as well as quite a few international foods from around the world as well.

My first ever Scotch egg

My first ever Scotch egg

The next food that really commanded my attention was a lady at the far end of the market who sold Scotch eggs.

A Scotch egg is basically an egg that’s surrounded by sausage, covered in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. This was my first time to ever try one, so I was thrilled – could there be anything better than eggs and sausage in ball form?

She had a number of different types, including one wrapped in chorizo, but I had to go with the haggis, a sausage made from sheep’s pluck.

It was amazing, the egg was gooey and slightly runny, and the haggis surrounding it was meaty and delicious.

Live music at Broadway Market

Live music at Broadway Market

Along with food, what I really loved about Broadway Market in London was the atmosphere.

The market has a real friendly and community feel to it. It’s a place where friends in the area come to hang out on a Saturday, eat some delicious food, and spend good times with friends and family.

Throughout the market, there were a number of musicians and artists who livened up the mood!

Broadway Market

Broadway Market

What I really liked about Broadway Market was not only the delicious food to sample, but also the friendly neighborhood feel to it. In a city the size of London, it’s just great to walk around a calm and peaceful market – and the delicious food is great too.

Along with many traditional foods to try, there are also quite a few international vendors as well. I didn’t have stomach space this time, but next time I’ll be trying the Ghanaian food!

If you are in London on a Saturday, and if you love to eat and hang out, you should make it a point to visit Broadway Market.


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