Many Boston-area residents are traveling to the World Cup to experience the hoopla of the largest international sporting event. Here are some of their stories. During the next month, we'll be checking in with them from time to time for highlights about their journeys:
Trip hatched during '06 Cup
Luke Quandt and Brian Harm of Somerville decided to go to the 2010 World Cup while watching the 2006 Cup.
"A whole group of friends were initially talking about it, but we were the only two in the end to follow through,'' Quandt said.
They won tickets in the Cup lottery and opted to hit the major South African cities instead of following a specific team. For example, they will be in Cape Town from June 20 to 27 and will catch the Portugal vs. North Korea match, and then in Johannesburg on June 27 and 28 to watch the Round of 16 match between the winner of Group B and the runnerup in Group A.
"We are also spending two days in London on the way there and on the way back, so we hope to be able to do a little bragging about the US while we are there, depending on what happens Saturday,'' said Quandt, 31, who works in political advertising. Harm works for the Voter Activation Network in Somerville.
They have an interesting soccer back story: They grew up three blocks apart in a small town in Iowa, playing soccer with each other.
In South Africa, they'll be rooting for the United States but also Spain. The two are both big supporters of Liverpool, in the English Premier League, which boasts a lot of Spanish players.
But there's another reason. "Brian and I ran with the bulls there a few years back and really loved the country, and I don't want to see one of the usual suspects lift the cup again this year,'' Quandt said.
Adventure beyond the soccer
Joe Musser, a 38-year-old from Boston, is a huge soccer fan. But his three-week trip with a group of four friends will involve much more than corner kicks and yellow cards.
He's turning his excursion, two years in the planning, into a broader adventure.
"We will be great white shark diving in Cape Town, as well as spending eight days on safari at Sabi Sabi,'' a private game reserve, said Musser, who is building a media-production company.
Musser, who will be in South Africa from June 29 to July 18, said the trip will cost about $6,000. Among his traveling companions: an investment banker from New York by way of London, an entrepreneurial friend from Hong Kong, and a radiologist from Boston.
Still, soccer is the big draw. Musser says he grew up playing the game, in high school, college, and adult leagues, and also is a US Soccer Federation referee. His group plans to attend two quarterfinal matches, two semifinals, and the final match.
No tickets, but still...
Matt Peirce of Lincoln doesn't have ticket to a single match. But that's not stopping him from traveling to South Africa just for a chance to experience the excitement first-hand.
He won't be in the country until the quarterfinals, but hopes to watch a few games in a pub with two friends in Johannesburg. He'll be rooting for the USA.
"I'm American ... every pass, every goal will be worth screaming about.''
A unique window for college student
David Micley of Newton has a unique perspective on the World Cup: Since January, the 22-year-old Emory University student has been in South Africa on a study-abroad program at the University of Cape Town.
Micley has ambitious game plans: "I will attend four games in four different stadiums in three different cities. Uruguay vs. France in Cape Town; Spain vs. Switzerland, Durban; USA vs. Slovenia, Johannesburg; and Brazil vs. Ivory Coast, Johannesburg.''
To get to the farflung games, he'll spend 20 hours on buses -- "not hard when you have access to unlimited South African wine as well as a good book aboard.'' His choice: Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom.''
He calls South Africa "an incredible country with an energetic and diverse population.
"I've been in tune with the buildup from a local perspective in terms of the overall excitement, as well as the prospect for its impact on the employment and inequality issues facing the country,'' Micley said.
He'll be rooting for the Red, White, and Blue -- "for national pride and because, although it would be a huge upset, they actually have a chance at winning this thing.''
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