A few days after the Copenhagen Camp I ended up in Porto, Portugal. I wondered what I would do when I got to Porto. From the start of my trip I knew my family was coming to Portugal. I had to decide what to do before I met them in Porto. My options were I would either walk another Camino from Porto to Santiago, hang out in Porto for a week, or…. wait for it. Go to a surf school.
Porto will be an unforgettable chapter in my trip. I learned to surf and met other beginners from all parts of the world. I trained Jiu Jitsu in the afternoon and nights after surfing. I drank and hung out with cool people whose couches I could use in the future. I was reunited with my family and I had old fashion family vacation.
I booked the camp when I was in Vienna after talking to Tina, from Leipzig post, who described her love for surfing. I thought that I should try it out. One should push themselves outside of their comfort zones. How else can you grow as a person? I found Surfivor on Google. A great place with very comfortable accommodations. Bruno and Albert are very good surf instructors. It seems they still have a lot of enthusiasm for it after many years. There were plenty of beginner students just trying it out. Most nights the students ate dinner together and drank together. This experience has made me really enjoy surfing. I will continue to surf in the future.
I get my recommendations where to train from the BJJ Globetrotter Facebook Group. I simply remember or search where people go to train on the forum. So far every place I’ve trained at has not disappointed me. I account that this is also a very open community that loves the sport and showing people their love for Jiu Jitsu.
Focus Jiu Jitsu in Porto, Portugal was one of the best places I’ve trained. Manuel Neto, the head instructor, was very friendly and welcoming. Focus has Jiu Jitsu three times a day Monday through Friday with one class on Saturday. The location of the gym is located inside a bigger gym/crossfit/MMA place about three blocks from the beach. I rented a bike and it took about 15 minutes from my hostel. A large amount of higher belts, one them just came back from Worlds and was awarded Black Belt. The facilities are clean, showers and a large mat space. The majority of population of Porto could speak English and the gym was no exception. I will definitely return to this place in the future.
My family visiting Porto before they attend a wedding in Lisbon was my favorite part. I love Jiu Jitsu and surfing, but I enjoy spending time with my family. It’s a good recharge from the months of travel I’ve been through. There were many times on my journey where I get homesick. I would call my sister and see how things are doing back home. I did this more on this 4 months of travel than my 7 years in the Navy. I took them to the restaurants that Tiago, the surf camp owner, recommended to me. They enjoyed the Francesinha, Restaurante Ababia do Porto and eating at the grilled fish street. We spent roughly two days in Porto together but I instilled them the love for Porto that I felt.
My plan is to come back for a month to Porto maybe next summer. The surfing, Jiu Jitsu, and the amazing Portuguese food are a few reasons why I will return. I’m already planning my return to Portugal. I want to continue surfing when I return to California so I will be better when I come back. The lifestyle is very similar to something I imagine myself I would be when I grow older.
My first BJJ Globetrotter Camp. When I first decided to travel around the world this was the first thing I booked, it was also one of the cheapest camps. All I had to do was travel to Copenhagen, lodging not included in price. I didn’t know what to expect for my first Jiu Jitsu camp. I kept my mind open and trained as much as my mind and body let me. At the end of the camp I gained many friends and invitations to different gyms all over Europe.
Some of my favorite tips from the Copenhagen Camp Information Guide by Daniel Bertina. Pace yourself, take notes and be social. Six days of 8-9 hours of Jiu Jitsu is a lot for anyone. I didn’t want to burn myself out so I went to open mat at least once a day and I attended an average of 2.5 classes. I would have liked to have attended more classes but it will just be a goal for next time. I took notes for the classes that I did attend. A tip that I will do next time is record myself doing the moves again in sequence with a partner to accompany the written notes. I should have been more social during the camp. This is one aspect that I did not take advantage until the end of the camp which was too late. Next time I will attend the welcome meeting/ Jiu Jitsu speed dating, dinners and a few drink afterwards. The trick is to have a right balance of socializing and rest for the next days training sessions/classes. As you can tell I’m already convinced that I will attend another camp. The next important question is which one?
A rolled with the original BJJ Globetrotter on the last day, Christian Graugart. Many years ago he went on a trip around the world to train Jiu Jitsu in as many different gyms as possible. It spawned into the friendly travel community we now know. He is not the first to make Jiu Jitsu camps but his BJJ Globetrotter brand has the most amount with 10 camps in different locales around the world. I felt honored to roll with him. He rolls like a black belt, relaxed and very composed against a lower belt, like myself. Although very playful and fun. A very approachable guy, it was interesting to pick his brain about the camps and his travels.
I trained everyday during the camp. I didn’t go to every class even though I wanted to. I socialized more on the last few nights. I should have went out more in the beginning especially for the Jiu Jitsu speed dating session to meet people. I should have recorded myself summarizing the techniques I just learned. A Gopro is good but my iTouch with a tripod would have been fine. I met people from all over the world and received many invitations from gyms and gave out just as many. I wonder when and where my next BJJ Globetrotter camp will be?
What was Prague like? It was beautiful and very picturesque. I had long term travel fatigue episode, I had coped with it. I tried out my first couch surfing experience. I’m glad I’m an older solo traveler, I can’t keep up with these young people. Meeting local people is my favorite part about traveling. I met up with a old friend from when I was in the Navy. Took a train out of Prague to Dresden. I will definitely love to come back and visit the city.
I came to Prague with over 100 days on the road. It is very tiring being a tourist. Some days you just want to go back home. Yes, even for the people living their dream there are bad days. After I had this thought of long term travel fatigue, I looked and there was already a blog post about it, here. I read this post after I recovered. What did I do to recover. I kept going, I pushed through. There are interesting places everywhere, you just have to keep looking. I went to the National Technical Museum in Prague, practically no tourists there. It was an inspiring to see different types of technology evolve with time. There is a photography exhibit, medical technology, film, architecture, appliances, printing presses and many more. Then I went to see the National Gallery. I enjoy looking at painting and modern art because I studied a little bit when I was in art school. It was really exciting to some famous artists that I admired. The title picture is a close up of a Alphonse Mucha. I love his decorative style and color palette. What got me out of the slump was to keep doing what I’m doing, keep working, keep searching, and keep exploring. Eventually it will pass. That’s advice if you need it. Please see the link above, that post is also good advice for any plateau.
You know when your friend would send you a postcard from Europe, Prague is a perfect card. Prague is located in central Europe as the capital city of the Czech Republic. It’s the fifth most visited city Europe. To say there were a lot of tourist is an understatement. When Richard Simcott, the polyglot superstar, studied here in the 90’s he described the Charles bridge as walking through a living radio when you turn the dial fast. So many people and so many languages you can hear maybe five or six walking through it. I didn’t have that exact experience, but I did hear a lot of English. Prague is beautiful but the amount of people detract from it. There are cool things to do you just have to look closer than the average tourist.
I managed to get some training amidst my slump. In fact, Jiu Jitsu is a really good way to get back into it. Exercise is good to way to move forward with a situation. I have now taken classes in Spanish, German, Czech and English. I wonder how many more languages I can learn Jiu Jitsu in. Honza Stach told me about Richard Andres at Penta BJJ. It’s great to meet people and that other people recommend. Richard spoke English very well and took time to show me certain details in English. He trained on and off in Minnesota. He is as technical as Honza said he was. I really enjoy that the network of Jiu Jitsu is just an interconnected network of people.
I met Jan through a mutual acquaintance. I was in Chile on a bike wine tour. A fellow, Matej from Slovakia, told me to check Czech Republic out and if I was going to Prague he might know someone to put me up. I didn’t think anything of it. I gave him my email address, usually nothing comes from these situations. Maybe because I’m American and people are flaky in America. I’m used to it. After a few weeks he emailed me some advice on Slovakia and Czech Republic. He gave me a contact for Prague. That is how I ended up on the Jan’s couch. It’s so great to hear the perspective of a local about their city. It’s honestly a priceless experience. I don’t think many tourists experience traveling this way. I learned a lot about the history and attitude of Czech People through Jan. He is one of the reason I want to return and really experience Czech Republic.
I extended my stay in Prague an extra day to see and old Navy buddy, Robbie. I was his LPO(Leading Petty Officer) in the department of ICU. He is now stationed in Japan.He has been traveling around Europe for about a week now. He showed me his itinerary and I managed move some things around and spend a day catching up. We went to pub crawl, urgh I thought. A bunch of other English speaking tourists. Not really my scene but nonetheless I had fun. I met some new people, I got lost, I found my friends and I had a great time. Normally I would shy away from stuff like that. The further I go along in Europe I will probably go on more drunken nights with big groups of strangers.
Overall a good time in Prague. Sometimes you feel down even in the most beautiful locations. Just keep going and learn from the experience. Keep your hobbies close so that you can feel normal even in a foreign country. It’s great to meet new friends and old friends all in the same city. Czech Republic left as space in my heart I will try to fill it some day.