Introducing Zorbing or Sphereing – The Human Hamster Ball

When I first saw Rover from The Prisoner, I thought it was terrifying and I had nightmares throughout my childhood of being chased by a giant white ball. It wasn’t until Jackie Chan rolled in a giant hamster ball down a hill at the start of Operation Condor, that I began to forget my fear and learn to love what would soon be named Zorbing / Sphereing. This guest post from travel expert Kwesi Greenidge gives the run down on just what Zorbing is and where you can get to experience it.

Zorbing / Sphereing

Have you ever stared down at a hamster in its exercise ball and thought I’d love to do that? Well now you need wonder no more. There are an ever increasing loyal number of extreme sport fanatics who are paying for the privilege of being pushed down a hill in a huge plastic ball. This is Zorbing – a recreational activity that emerged in the early 21st century.

What is Zorbing / Sphereing?

Dwayne van der Sluis and Andrew Akers conceived the idea for this type of sphere in the mid-nineties in Auckland, New Zealand, calling their invention the Zorb. Originally designed to to come up with a solution to walking on water Zorbing has grown rapidly and is now practiced all over the world. Zorbing sites can be found in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Sweden, Estonia, Australia’s Gold Coast, the Czech Republic, Japan, Thailand and Slovenia.

The Zorb or Sphere is made from light weight flexible plastic and comprises of a sphere which houses the rider inside another larger sphere which stands 3 meters tall. The two spheres are connected by thousands of nylon ropes which give the structure its light yet cushioning properties. Riders are strapped in to an almost seated position in preparation for this thrill ride. Those with no fear, there are variations of rides where passengers can ride Zorbs without being strapped in!

zorbing

Hydro-Zorbing

If the thought of being strapped in a ball that is hurtling down a hill at 30 mph isn’t extreme enough for you then you may want to give Hydro-Zorbing a try. Hydro-Zorbing takes you from being a hamster to being… well laundry in a very strange washing machine! Hydro-Zorbing puts you on the spin cycle with the added element of water splashing around in the rider chamber! If you’re feeling a little nervy about the descent from the top to the bottom of the slope, fear not because you and a friend can share the Zorbing experience together. The Zorb is capable of carrying up to three riders quite comfortably and this option is perfect for reminding your mates about the petrified expression you had staring back at you!

Where Can I Go Zorbing?

The price of a single Zorb ride starts from around £35, with a double Zorb ride with a friend varying between £50 and £60, depending on the type of Zorbing experience you want.

Zorbing venues are located up and down the country with more and more sites popping up all the time. Here are some of the establish venues:

  • • Bockhampton, Dorset
  • • Brighton, West Sussex
  • • Chepstow, Gloucestershire
  • • Leeds, Yorkshire
  • • Macclesfield, Cheshire
  • • Newcastle, Northumberland
  • • Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
  • • Oxford, Oxfordshire
  • • Perth, Scotland
  • • Stevenage, Hertfordshire

For more information about UK Zorbing and how to get involved, check out Zorb South and Orb 360.

Getting to the Champions League Final in Moscow

This is what is all comes down to. The Champions League Final is being hosted at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, and for the first time in history, the two participating teams are both English. Manchester United and Chelsea will duke it out for the ultimate European accolade on May 21st 2008. With it being such a historic landmark for English football, it’s an event any football fan will be desperate to attend. So exactly what will you need to get sorted before jetting off?

Champions League Final

Champions League Final Tickets

It’s highly recommended to only get final tickets through official channels. Unofficial sites, eBay listings and touts could result in you paying excessively. However you end up getting a ticket, just make sure it’s real! The last thing you want is paying huge amounts of money for a fake ticket, worse than not being able to see the match – you won’t be able to use it as a visa!

They’ll be a fans’ park with a screen close to the stadium in Moscow showing the match for anyone who didn’t manage to get in. Though it’s strongly advised not to travel if you don’t have a ticket since you’ll end up paying loads for virtually nothing. And let’s face it, if you’re going to watch it on a screen, it’s better to do it here with all the other fans that didn’t manage to go.

Russian Visa

Providing you have a match ticket, it will act as your visa. This will be valid from 17th to 25th of May 2008. Yet you still need a few other things to get into the country.

  • Your Passport (Needs to be valid for a minimum of six months. after you intend the Russian visa to expire. And it must have at least two blank pages).
  • Champions League Final Ticket (Which you need to keep hold of so that you can leave!).
  • Completed Russian Migration Card (These can be obtained from your club).

If you’re visiting without a ticket, then you’ll need to go through the standard procedure to gain a Russian tourist visa. The Russian National Tourist Office has all the information you need for obtaining one.

You have to apply before travelling, as a Russian visa cannot be obtained on arrival. When applying, you will need to post your original passport to them, so in order to give it time to arrive and be returned to you with the visa, your must get this done quickly. A run down of what you will need:

  • Your Passport (Needs to be valid for a minimum of six months. after you intend the Russian visa to expire. And it must have at least two blank pages).
  • Russian Visa booking form (Print out and fill in from the site).
  • A passport-sized photograph (Glued to the appropriate place on the booking form.
  • Completed consulate questionnaire (Must be done online, you can do that here.)
  • Application fee (Only accepted via credit/debit card or Postal Order).

Moscow Hotels

Hotels are being booked up quickly as around 70,000 fans are about to invade the city. Your best bet is to get a hotel as close to Moscow centre and to Luzhniki Stadium as possible, to save you having to travel before and after the match.

Search for Moscow hotel sites and check availability, you’ll find lots of them are full but some still have a few places and there’s always the option of staying a little bit further out. Call travel agents too, to get the most up to date information on availability. It can get expensive and some fans are considering just doing a round trip and starting the journey home after the game finishes, rather than staying the night.

Flights to Moscow

Chartered flights for each club are expected to split fans between Moscow’s two closest airports, so that the teams are separated. However, many fans are looking for alternate routes into Moscow to cut down on costs. Rather than a direct flight into Russia, fans are booking cheap airlines to nearby countries and then getting trains over the border.

Be aware that going to these measures means increasing your travelling time significantly. And you’re also much more likely to find delays and risk being late to the match. Be sure to leave plenty of time however you travel and make sure you plan your route properly.

Where is Luzhniki Stadium?

City Life

The Luzhniki Stadium is on the red line (line 1) of the MosMetro and you can get off at Sportivnaya or Vorobyevy Gory to reach the stadium. This is considered the best way to reach the final upon arrival in Moscow as taxi fares are likely to seriously escalate on the day.

There’s due to be a festival-like atmosphere around the stadium on the day, as many outdoor food and craft stores open up their doors to the thousands of incoming fans. Police are going to have a large presence, as you’d expect, so have your passport and ticket on you at all times – ready for any possible inspection.

Red Square is the main tourist area and is a great way to spend the day – it’ll have plenty of going on. Bars won’t be difficult to find at all and will all come alive during the day. Your best bet is to arrive as early as possible and spend a bit of time wandering around and learning the area. Pick up a Moscow travel guide from your local book shop to get a better idea.

Useful Links

Official Manchester United Site
Official Chelsea Site
Russian National Tourist Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice
Russian Embassy (London)
UEFA