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James Bond-worthy adrenaline sports in exotic locales

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    A swim across the Bosporus from Asia to Europe only takes a formal assessment of your swimming ability, a modest entry fee and a healthy amount of chutzpah.iStock

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    Hang glide at Monte Grappa soars with its favorable conditions, excellent thermals and easy landing zones.iStock

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    Rafting through the Tara River Canyon northeast of Montenegro is Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon.Rafting Co.

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    With sheer drop-offs measuring up to 600 meters lining the 40-mile route, there is little margin for error on La Paz in Bolivia.Reuters

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    Wushu is an umbrella term that encompasses all traditional Chinese martial arts, including the likes of kung fu and wing chun.AFP

James Bond is a man of few, usually pithy words. On-screen, with the lighting just right and a whole scene devoted to the set-up, his one-liners ooze cool. Unfortunately, the average Joe who tries to replicate the spy’s nonchalant quips in regular conversation usually comes across as an idiot, or, at the very least, a poor conversationalist.

Similarly, and more obviously, if you try to travel the world, stealing vehicles, exploding buildings, killing people and sleeping with strange women, you will likely find yourself in solitary for the rest of your life with only a series of venereal diseases for company.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little taste of what it’s like to be the world’s most famous spy. This could be in the form of drinking the perfect martini or swaggering into a fancy casino dressed to the nines. Or, in true Bond fashion, it could come from a massive adrenaline rush.

Here are 10 adrenaline-pumping activities in exotic locales (all of which Bond has recently visited) that will give you an adrenaline fix.

Istanbul - Swim from Asia to Europe

James Bond swings by the continental border in Istanbul in the upcoming “Skyfall.” No doubt he engages in some explosion-filled shenanigans and possibly a chase or two in the former City of the Emperors. We can guarantee, however, that he won’t swim across the Bosporus from Asia to Europe.

But you can. Normally a swim between two continents takes years of planning, a pilot boat, sponsors and a certain lack of common sense. Here, all it takes is a formal assessment of your swimming ability, a modest entry fee and a healthy amount of chutzpah. A couple of miles later, you will be the proud owner of some pretty authoritative bragging rights. Parties begin and end with the phrase “I swam between two continents.” Your friends will be jealous, and other men will yield to your obvious physical superiority.

Bond’s acts of daring-do may provide him with a rush; swimming across one of the world’s most historic and busiest waterways can provide you with yours.

Venice - Hang Gliding

Just outside of Venice is an internationally renowned hang-gliding haunt, Monte Grappa. With favorable conditions for much of the year, excellent thermals and easy landing zones, it is a favorite of European hang gliders. On clear days, you get an aerial view of the Venetian Lagoon, 30 miles away, soaring along in tandem on a powerless wing.

Grappa is so famous among fliers that it hosts an annual competition and exposition, the Troffeo Montegrappa. If you’re too chicken to take to the air, you might be just as stimulated by the mind-boggling maneuvers the professional hang gliders and paragliders are pulling above you.

But Bond doesn’t sit around and watch, does he?

Montenegro - Raft the Tara River Canyon

Montenegro played host to the titular gambling venue in Casino Royale. It’s where the famous spy wins a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em after a poisoned martini sends him into cardiac arrest.

Get your own heart-stopping thrills by rafting through the Tara River Canyon, northeast of the capital. The canyon is Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon, and it is arguably more impressive in some ways, as you pass through a UNESCO World Heritage Site, massive bridges and historic Roman ruins. And through plenty of whitewater, naturally.

The gorge is home to massive waterfalls and cliffs, caves, and beaches, so when you’re out of the boat, there’s plenty to keep your heart racing.

La Paz - Cycle the Death Road

Some 300 people die every year driving on Bolivia’s most infamous stretch of tarmac (or gravel, or dirt -- whatever). Your chances of survival are slightly better if you take a mountain bike; only about 20 cyclists have died biking the route since 1998. Whichever you choose, you are guaranteed an exciting time, to put it mildly.

With sheer drop-offs measuring up to 600 meters lining the 40-mile route, there is little margin for error. Often, the road is a single lane wide. Gigantic transport trucks scythe a path through oncoming traffic when there is more than one lane. Fog, rain and dust reduce visibility. To boot, the traffic effectively switches to the opposite side of the road from the rest of Bolivia because vehicles traveling downhill must always yield to oncoming traffic by moving to the outermost part of the road, toward the crumbling cliffs. Oh, yeah -- there are no guardrails, of course.

It’s a long, almost entirely continuous downhill ride, so your energy is not spent on propulsion. It’s spent on keeping you focused enough to prevent an unintended BASE jump sans parachute. Even 007 would hesitate before biking Death Road. 

Shanghai - Learn Wushu

Wushu is an umbrella term that encompasses all traditional Chinese martial arts, including the likes of kung fu and wing chun. There are few better places in the world to learn the fighting arts than in China, and Shanghai is home to some of the best schools in the country.

Bond is never one to back down from a fight, and one wonders if it’s not because of the endorphin rush fighters get when the body goes into attack mode. When you train at a martial art, a similar thing happens: The body responds to pain and aggression by releasing adrenaline and endorphins. And you will feel pain -- the only way to get better at a martial art is by getting your ass handed to you by a superior opponent.

Bond wins virtually every fight -- eventually -- just by virtue of plot arcs, but you need more help than that. Learning Shaolin or modern wushu at a Shanghai training center will help you on your way.

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