Top 5 Cricket World Cup Destinations

With the ICC Cricket World Cup in full swing, I have decided to bring you my specially curated travel-list for the cricket-lover in you! From the first World Cup in 1975 to the one that you’re watching on your big screens right now, cricket has taken us across 16 beautiful nations, spanning 4 continents. While most will be engrossed in the game, there are many of us who yearn to go beyond the stadium and explore the wondrous sights each host country has to offer. Let’s set the ball rolling!

1. United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales)

The World Cup tradition began in England, and this country hosted the first three World Cups until India and Pakistan ended the hat-trick. Once you are done gaping in awe at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, you must grab a seat on one of the 32 capsules of the London Eye. You will get a bird’s eye view of over 55 famous landmarks of London while the giant wheels takes 30 minutes to complete a round. Don’t forget to take some selfies on the London Bridge – one of the seven wonders of the world! Then, as the Big Ben strikes six, head on over to Madam Tussaud’s and marvel at the lifelike wax statues of celebrities from all over the world. If you have more time, don’t forget to visit the Buckingham Palace and several state-of-the-art museums.

Scotland is a country straight out of a fairytale! Home to the magnificent castle of Edinburgh and the haunted waters of Loch Ness. (Remember the sea monster, Nessie?) Explore Skara Brae, a stone-age village, and ruins of imposing castles and brochs. The beaches and hills are sure to take your breath away!

Wales, not unlike Scotland, has scores of alluring castles. But the prettiest attraction here is surely Snowdonia – a visually appealing national park. You might also want to take a look at Sygun Copper Mine and National Slate Museum.

2. India

Source: maharajas-express-india.com

Source: maharajas-express-india.com

India has hosted the World Cups thrice so far, and it arguably has the highest number of cricket fans in the world. My country is one of the most diverse, both in terms of terrain and culture. You can enjoy the snow in Gulmarg, up North, or laze inside a boathouse in the backwaters of Kerala, down South. India has the mighty Thar desert, the holy land of Gaya, the crazy party-scene in Goa, the beautiful Taj Mahal and the beguiling Sundarbans all in between. Your experiences in India will be as unique and colourful as its people and cuisines!

3. Australasia (Australia and New Zealand)

Source: bonfireexpeditions.com

Source: bonfireexpeditions.com

The largest country in Australasia, Oz is a spectacle of natural and man-made beauty. The Great Barrier Reef, the 12 Apostles, the Blue Mountains and clear beaches are nature’s gift to the Aussies. By the same token, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the Eureka Tower and the Great Ocean Road are gifts from the Aussies to the rest of the world. As Australia hosts various matches for this season, let’s hope India lifts the cup again!

Source: placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

Source: placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

Kiwiland is co-hosting this year, and it’s a wonderful excuse to explore its two islands. If you’re an LOTR fan, hop over to Hobbiton and feel like a hobbit yourself! NZ gives you plenty of chances to interact with its indigenous Maori people and taste their scrumptious food. After a long match, relax at one of the hot springs. New Zealand is chock a block with volcanoes and the natural geysers and hot springs come as no surprise. The beauty of it all will surprise you though! 😉

4. The Netherlands

Source: travel.nationalgeographic.com

Source: travel.nationalgeographic.com

Holland is a small European country that has only co-hosted the World Cup once, but it packs quite a punch! The land of windmills has enough to keep you here for several days. Its charming streets are best explored on a rented bicycle and its canals, best crossed in a gondola. The Netherlands is steeped in history. From Anne Frank’s House to Rijksmuseum, there’s so much to see! Holland is also famous for its liberal laws on weed. One can order “magic mushrooms” and “space cakes” in restaurants! The best thing about “NE” of BENELUX is that it’s a part of the Schengen region, and a Schengen visa gives you the power to travel through most of Europe! 😀

5. Kenya

Source: animalorphanagekenya.org

Source: animalorphanagekenya.org

Africa’s lesser known cricket destination is a magical country which is true to its roots. The Kenyan cricket team may not have been able to beat South Africa too many times, but Kenya sure beat it to make it to my travel-list for this year! This West African country is the abode of a mind-boggling variety of wild animals and birds. Maasai Mara is a global-favourite when it comes to observing animals in their natural habitat. Animal-watching does not have to be all about roughing it out. You can opt for elegant luxury tents and try “glamping” (glamorous camping) if your budget allows it.

Do you ever plan a trip around cricket matches? Have you been to any of the destinations on my top-5? Let me hear your stories in the comments below!

This blog is part of the Blogger Dream Team.

Advertisements

Lleida – A Reminiscence

Today, I’m going to tell you a story set in a Catalonian province – Lleida. This story will take us three years back in time as we retrace my journey through this beautiful region in the summer of 2011.

A cobbled bylane in Lleida

A cobbled bylane in Lleida

My joy knew no bounds the day I found out I was going to “Spain” for my summer internship. This would be my first solo-trip out of India. I did plenty of research on Lleida (pronounced ye-ee-da) and practised some basic Spanish which I thought would help me get by.

But nothing prepared me for what I would experience here. And nobody told me this trip would transform me as a person.

I had changed 6 modes of transport to reach my place of stay!

  1. I boarded my Swiss flight at 1AM from Mumbai and spent the entire night checking out their awesome inflight entertainment options. Needless to say, I was sleepy when my plane landed at Zurich.
  2. At the Zurich Kloten Airport (one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen), I took the inter-terminal train to reach the terminal for my connecting flight.
  3. Then, I boarded the early morning Swiss flight to Barcelona. This is where I first strained my ears to interpret the Spanish-English accent. “But airhostesses in all countries always speak in unintelligible accents”, I shrugged.
  4. After an hour of sleep on the plane, it was time for me to collect my things and catch the shuttle that would take us from the international terminal of the Barcelona–El Prat Airport to its domestic one.
  5. From there, we (“we” because 2 more interns joined me at Barca 🙂 ) took the metro to the Barcelona Sants train-station.
  6. We next caught a train to Lleida.
  7. And the final journey from Lleida station to our apartment complex was in our host’s car. Phew!
The mighty Pyrenees through my window

A charming hill (not the mighty Pyrenees) through my window

I was mostly dozing by the window on the Renfe-train but managed to catch some panoramic glimpses of the Pyrenees mountains. I thought the coach was unusually quiet (by comparison to Indian train-coaches), almost as if it were a library. (I would learn on my subsequent journeys that the Europeans are not as noisy as we are.)

It was such a delight to meet Marc, one of our hosts, who drove us to our final destination.

Estació de Lleida Pirineus

Estació de Lleida Pirineus

Before I could show off the little Spanish I had learnt, Marc proudly told us he wasn’t fond of Spain. And most Catalonians wouldn’t reply in Spanish if we asked them.

He erased my shock and confusion by explaining to us how Catalunya (as the locals call it) is trying to secede from the rest of Spain. But we didn’t have to worry about knowing no Catalan as the University of Lleida provided us welcome packs which had a translation-guide! 🙂 In the anticipation of learning another foreign language and meeting more interns at my apartment, I forgot that I hadn’t slept for almost 20 hours.

With the hosts & other interns

With the hosts & other interns

Summer in Lleida’s latitude means the sun won’t set until it’s past 9.  My watch said it was time for dinner, but my eyes refused to believe. This is when all the first-day (night, maybe?) fun started! I met all the hosts, and fellow interns from Belgium, Latvia, Germany, Mongolia, Peru, Greece, Panama & Belarus. Our Catalonian hosts had prepared a sumptuous spread for all of us. I too brought out my theplas (my mum fretted too much about food and whether I’d get anything to eat at all 😛 ) for everybody to try.

Did you know?Theplas taste better with gazpacho!

My last memory of staying awake that night ends in having some red wine and Picón cheese before I give in to jet lag and sleep-deprivation, and find myself sleeping like a log in my bedroom.

Passing by the River Segre

Passing by the River Segre

Day-2 in this charming city was spent walking around the place, locating department stores & bus stops and figuring out how I’d get to office next morning. My new home seemed great but I was still a little apprehensive about work. This would be my first office-experience outside of India, and I just hoped my colleagues were nice.

Dining with the amazing people from work :-)

Dining with the amazing people from work 🙂

Turns out, they’re the coolest co-workers in all of Lleida! 🙂 I went in thinking I’d have to do a lot of catching up on Catalan & Spanish, but they took one step forward by brushing up their English so they could talk to me! These are the people I lunched with everyday as we exchanged stories from India & Spain.

The study underground

The study underground

I could go on and on about how warm and friendly everyone in Lleida is. But now that I’ve introduced you to Catalunya, I’ll keep it mostly travel-centred from my next post. In the pic above, you will see where I sat and planned all my weekend trips in this country that many of us have only dreamt of.

Stay tuned for my next post on Barcelona! 🙂