An excellent enhancement to any overseas trip is taking in cultural events such as opera & ballet or sports.
Sometimes these are attended by design, pre-booked in advance, but on other cases they can be pure chance, just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
I have put my thinking cap on and come up with a list of events that I have been to over the years. This post concentrates on sport, whilst I will add the theatrical ones one day soon.
Olympics – I attended my first Games in 2004 in Athens, home of the first modern Olympics in 1896. And what a superb jamboree it was, although sadly the ever hospitable Greeks were to pay a hefty price later on as we know.
2004 was a year of great sporting pride for Greece as their football team had already lifted the Euro 2004 Football Championship held in Portugal, against all the odds.
This pride was somewhat tainted on the eve of the Games with the drug related scandal of Greek Olympic sprint champions Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou who were thrown out of their home Games despite of course protesting their innocence.
There were many highlights for me of a wonderful tournament, which included watching both the men’s and women’s 100 metre finals and the women’s team gymnastics competition.
Number one memory however has to go to witnessing the Men’s Fours pipping the Canadians to Gold in a photo finish on a baking hot morning in the rowing at Schineas. Britannia definiotely ruled the waves that day!
Sports attended – Table Tennis, Hockey, Cycling, Archery, Rowing, Volleyball, Football, Gymnastics, Athletics
Lausanne – 1987 Lausanne v Neuchatel Xamax, Swiss First Division. Inter-rail trip, ended 2-2.
Stockholm – 1989 Sweden v England, World Cup Qualifier. Inter-rail trip, ended 0-0 and most famous for Terry Butcher’s blood stained shirt following a head wound.
Dortmund – 1989 Borussia Dortmund v Cologne, Der Bundesliga. Inter-rail trip, ended 0-0.
Budapest – 1992 Ferencvaros v Slovan Bratislava, European Cup First Round Second Leg. Inter-rail trip, ended 0-0
Prague – 1992 Sparta Prague v Slovan Bratislava, Czechoslovakian First Division. Trip with my Mum & Dad. Finished 1-0 and Sparta went on to be champions.
Amsterdam – 2000 The Netherlands v France, Euro 2000 Group Stage. Work hospitality trip. Finished 3-2 to the Dutch. Ajax v Manchester City 2013, Champions League Group Stage. Finished 3-1 to Ajax.
Brussels – 2000 Italy v Bulgaria, Euro 2000 Quarter Final. Work hospitality trip. Finished 2-0 to Italy.
Milan – 2002 AC Milan v Real Madrid, Champions League Group Stage. In MIlan on business. Finished 1-0 to Milan. 2015 Inter Milan v AC Milan, Serie A. Pre-booked trip with Mrs Wilbur. Finished 0-0.
Madrid – 2004 Real Madrid v Monaco, Champions League Quarter Final. In Madrid on business. Finished 4-1 to Madrid, but Monaco won through after winning the second leg 3-0.
Copenhagen – 2009 FC Kobenhavn v Manchester City, UEFA Cup Last 32. Pre-booked triop with Mrs Wilbur. Finished 2-2.
Barcelona – 2014 Barcelona v Manchester City Champions League, Last 32, 2015 Barcelona v Manchester City Champions League, Last 32. Both pre-booked trips. First match 2-1 to Barcelona, second match 1-0 to Barcelona.
Hong Kong – 1991 Sha Tin Flat racing. Trip to Hong Kong with brother.
Beirut – 2000 Flat Racing. Trip to Lebanon with Hamish.
Paris – 2007 France v Ireland, World Cup Group Stage. Work hospitality trip. France won 25-3.
Brussels – 1998 Belgian Grand Prix. Work hospitality trip. Won by Damon Hill (Jordan). Spectacular crash at the start in wet weather.
Monza – 1999 Italian Grand Prix. Work hospitality trip. Won by Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan)
Valencia – 2007 Americas Cup Final, Switzerland v New Zealand. Trip to Spain with Mrs Wilbur. The Swiss Alinghi Team retained the Cup.