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Travel Obsessions

August 03, 2016
This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will face off against the Indianapolis Colts in the Hall of Fame game. It’s the first exhibition game of the season, one in which star players like Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck will likely play for the first quarter, if even that long. And yet it will still be a ratings bonanza for ESPN, as millions of football-starved fans tune in. If baseball is the national pastime, then football has become the national obsession. But America’s not the only country with a major infatuation.

Our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can take your donors almost anywhere in America – and to any NFL or college football game, as well! – but they can also be used to check out the obsessions of other countries around the world. For those who want to find and enjoy those local passions, here are a few options.

Staying in the sports realm, the English Premier League is known around the world as one of the top levels of play in soccer. And within the country itself, the words of a former Liverpool manager ring true: “Some people think football’s a matter of life or death. … I assure you, it’s much more important than that.” There’s nothing quite like walking into Old Trafford in Manchester, Anfield in Liverpool or Stamford Bridge in London to witness the passion, the pageantry and the colors of a Premier League match in person.

With grape-growing regions throughout the country and more than eight billion bottles produced each year, France is a world capital of wine. But it’s not just one of the country’s top exports; the French take their wine seriously, and study it closely. There’s even the Cite du Vin, a new museum dedicated to wine in Bordeaux, that’s been informally named the “Disneyland of Wine,” with more than 14,000 bottles from more than 80 countries. For anyone who cares deeply about wine, they’ll find doppelganger obsessives in France.

For a closer sojourn, there are few countries that can legitimately claim to be the spiritual home of a genre of music. But Jamaica has always had a sort of claim to reggae that few other nations hold on one style or rhythm; an artist gets immediate credibility in reggae just by having Jamaican ancestry, much less being from the island itself. Any trip to the country would be incomplete without stops at places like the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. And if the travel plans line up, Reggae Summerfest in Montego Bay is the world’s biggest and best festival for the genre.