We all know about Europe’s mainstream sporting events: the Euros this year, the Champion’s League, the Six Nations, Roland Garros etc… But we love the lesser known here at Euroventure, so we’ve been looking into some of Europe’s under the radar, and in some cases pretty odd, crazy sport events that you should definitely build into your interrail trip to visit this year.
When? August 16th
Sienna is perhaps one of Italy’s most beautiful and yet relatively touristic free cities (well, in comparison to Florence, Vienna and Rome, that is…) Situated in the heart of Tuscany, it’s as typically Italian as you can get. And that’s a very good thing. Twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th the city comes to a standstill and everybody gathers in the central “Piaza del Campo” for one of the world’s most thrilling horse races, Il Palio di Siena.
The Pailo is steeped in tradition and history. Originally organised to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses, it was first run on August 16th 1656. This historical tradition is connected with the origin of the Contradas of Sienna – the various districts into which the town is divided.
The race circles the Piazza, the crowd standing on the inside while the jockeys ride bareback around them on a thick layer of sand and dirt – don’t be late as the thrilling race normally lasts no longer than 90 seconds! It’s no quiet ride, and more often than not jockeys are thrown off due to the sharp turns. With a true carnival atmosphere lasting four days each time, this is definitely one that should be on your bucket list.
When? October 17th
Yep, that’s right. I don’t envy these competitors – personally I haven’t ever had to wear stilettos, or run in them for that matter, but it doesn’t strike me as the easiest option. The rules are quite straightforward, run 350m down Amsterdam’s high street, P.C Hooft St, in heels with a minimum height of 9cm, as a bunch of daring ladies (and gentlemen) sprint for victory and €10 000 in cash…
Now if you think you’d like to make a bit of cash and have a fair bit of experience chasing that last bus in your heels, kebab in hand, this may be the one for you. Better get training though – with around 150 entrants, you’ll be up against the crème de la crème of stiletto-sprinting. As if that wasn’t enough, to get to the final stage you must qualify in one of the preliminary heats in cities across the country. Be prepared for a dirty battle – it looks a bit like rugby on heels.
This is one for everyone to get involved in. Mixing up football with gymnastics and volleyball this Spanish beach game is played on a weird huge trampoline… (a bouncy castle without the walls?) with a volleyball net down the middle. You can hit the ball with any part of your body as long as it goes over the net before your team has touched it more than 6 times. First team to 25 points win. Maybe not one to do after a heavy night on the sauce though.
Where? Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Finland
This probably doesn’t make for much of a spectator sport as most of the action takes place underwater. Wearing a wet suit, with upside-down goals attached to the ice below the surface, two teams of nutters use the underwater surface to battle over the puck to score for their teams. Sounds pretty nuts? Yes. Even more so, they don’t use any breathing aides – when short of breath they come up for air and then back below the ice to carry on… Mental. Totally. Mental. Euroventure strongly recommends against partaking in this activity…
Where? Bern, Solothurn & Aargau – Switzerland
This pro sport takes place across the year. On a pitch 350m wide and at least half a kilometer long, two teams of 18 players a side ping the Nous – a rubber projectile (kind of like a flying puck) towards the other team. The team facing the Nous use shields and must stop it from touching the ground, if it does make it to the ground the other team win a point.
It looks a bit like a cross between golf and baseball! Two turns are played for each side, normally lasting about 3 hours. A Swiss tradition, it’s a popular betting game, with the winning team being the ones who successfully deflect the Nous from their pitch the most times. It’s pretty aggressive and you definitely wouldn’t want to be hit by the Nous – fittingly the game was originally played to settle disputes between villages in the 16th century!
So there you have it, you can check out these weird and brilliant sports across the continent on several of our various interrail packages! You’ll definitely come back with a story to tell!
Euroventure are the interrail experts. We plan independent and group tours for travellers of all kinds. Check out Ultimate Guide to Travelling Europe here for all the advice you need! We’ve got guides on planning train travel, picking your destinations and choosing the best accommodation for you too. Once you’re ready to get planning, use our custom route builder tool to map out your route and work out how much your trip will cost.