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Travel Picks: 10 niche sports to try on the fly

The caber toss is a popular segment of any Highland Games.

LONDON: For those who prefer marathons to museums, travel is a fantastic opportunity to indulge in a new sport. On this note the travelers and staff at online travel consultants Trippy.com have come up with their own list of the Top 10 Cool Sports You Should Try While Traveling. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Falconry in California

If you believed this sport went the way of chariot races and gladiators, think again. At the West Coast Falconry Center in Marysville, California, students are schooled in various species of birds of prey as well as how to work with a trained hawk who flies to the glove when called.

2. Dressage in Spain

While most people have seen the stunning balletic movements of dressage horses, it’s the rare non-equestrian who can tell you what this pas de deux between horse and rider actually is or how it’s mastered. Luckily this can be remedied at the Epona Equestrian Center in Spain.

3. Petanque in France

Nothing says France like a group of serious-looking men standing around a sandbox with a cigarette in one hand and a petanque ball in the other. If you’re not brave enough to ask them to teach you how to play, try contacting an organization like the Federation of Petanque USA for a few lessons before you go.

4. Fencing in the United Kingdom

While it may not be much help in a street fight, this sport of kings will give you a great workout. We recommend London’s Blades Club where the cost of admission to a “Taster Session” can be put toward your first lessons.

5. Caber Tossing in Scotland

Unless you happen to already know how to throw an almost 200 pound, 20 ft. log into the air and have it land with complete precision we recommend a few practice sessions at Mavis Hall Park in East Lothian, Scotland. (The park also offers Wellie Boot Tossing.)

6. Croquet in New Zealand

While it has a reputation for being a bit twee, don’t expect to be able to drink tea and play at the same time. Players here take their bisques, hoops and peg outs seriously so be prepared.

7. Orienteering in Sweden

For those with the patience of a very buff, athletic saint, orienteering is the ultimate mind/body sport. Armed with compasses, participants navigate through a pre-determined route set up by organizers, often through some beautiful terrain.

8. Rowing in Boston

If you want to feel as if you’re in a movie, almost nothing beats this one. It’s a serious sport that requires not only endurance but swimming abilities, so make sure you’re up for the task before starting. Community Rowing, Inc. in Boston is a great place to start.

9. Snowkiting in Germany

If snowboarding and parasailing had an overachieving baby, it would be snowkiting. Challenging, fun, and absolutely glorious to watch, participants in this sport are guided along the snow by the sails of a kite. Schools abound in this part of the world.

10. Bullfighting in California

If you love the grace but hate the violence, we recommend the Dennis C. Borba method of learning. Although you’ll get your Hemingway moment in the ring, the technique here is billed as “bloodless.” Just remember that’s the school’s name – not the bulls!

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 11, 2012, on page 13.

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