My love of both travel and sports has seen trips to many stadia and arenas around the world. Some are big, think Wembley Stadium in London and MetLife Stadium in the New York metropolitan area, yet the smaller ones can be rewarding, too, such as Skonto Stadium in Riga and Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia in Bergamo.
Some of my best travel experiences have been within the confines of sports venues, including on my recent trip to Brussels where we spent an evening at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium watching home side RSC Anderlecht comfortably defeat Azerbaijani side Gabala FK in the Europa League.
My borderline obsession (okay, total obsession) has also taken me to Eindhoven – home of Netherlands football giants PSV, who play their home games at Philips Stadion.
While I wasn’t fortunate enough to see a game there, we did participate in a stadium tour and a visit to the PSV Museum – a combo better than any other I’ve seen so far.
What worked in our favour that we only had a small group of five people on the tour, which made things more personal and allowed the spritely guide to give us greater access to the backstage areas, while also allowing more time for photos.
The Museum, a ticket to which is included in the price of the tour, showcases a vast array of memorabilia as it pays homage to legends of the club such as Koeman, Ronaldo, Romario and Cocu, while free audioguides in several different languages allow it to be experienced by a greater audience.
It was this particular trip that led to travel booking website Expedia sending me an email, as they were looking to compile a travel guide for the homes and hometowns of the majority of teams entering into the Champions League group stage this season.
As one of the only travel bloggers to actually do a write-up on The Netherlands’ fifth-biggest city, including a section dedicated to my Philips Stadion visit, they were seeking my help to complete the PSV part of the guide, with the reigning Dutch champions playing in Group D, alongside Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and FC Rostov.
In addition to information about the stadium, users of the guide, which can be found here, can also find what to see and do, where to go and what to eat in the cities where each of the clubs hail from, underlining it as the comprehensive guide for the travelling Champions League fan.
So far I have visited a total of eight out of the grounds on the list, whether to watch a match or got on a stadium tour, or simply potter around and revel in the excitement of seeing another team’s abode. But after reading this guide, it’s made me want to go whole hog and complete the list.
So if you are planning on visiting any of the 32 Champions League grounds for the 2016/17 season, whether it’s to watch a European fixture or not, then use this Expedia guide to help get the most out of your trip.