Greetings From Barcelona and Madrid Spain!
I left Paris for Barcelona, and after a debacle of trying to find where my flight was leaving from it was a quick and smooth trip to my Barcelona hostel. The Paris airport has zero signs to where the different flight companies are and has two different terminals for departures. Luckily I had shown up very early so after walking around terminal 1 for over half an hour and not finding any sign of the airline I was flying with I asked the information desk. It turned out that the airline was in terminal 2, across the airport from where I was in terminal 1. I had to the shuttle across the parking lot, which was a surprisingly long time before making it to terminal 2, I’m pretty sure the shuttle was going in the opposite direction I needed to go and really I was only one stop away. Once I was at the right terminal it was all smooth sailing, or flying.
For going to Madrid it was an easy bus trip, the only thing was I was really doped up in the morning so catching the city bus to make it to the bus to Madrid I was seriously scared I was going to fall asleep and miss my ride. After an awesome day out in the sun and sleeping in a cool night breeze I woke up sick beyond belief. Cool nights always mess with my respiratory system with hot days but this was worse than I’ve got from too much sun and a cold night ever. After going to a pharmacy and being told only to take 1 a day and before bed because it makes you sleepy I consulted my friends on Facebook to find out exactly what it was I bought I decided since I was really sick I’d take 2 before bed. The thing is I had to get up pretty early to get ready for my morning bus to Madrid. I had not slept the medication off yet. It did however make for an interesting trek to the bus station and a very sound sleep during the bus ride to Madrid. I wish I could say I woke up feeling great and ready to train, and for the most part I was better, but my respiratory system was still wrecked and I couldn’t roll during Madrid, but I get manage to get out and train, until another hiccup got my held up with issues to deal with.
I spent a day running around seeing the sights in both Barcelona and Madrid each. In fact in Barcelona I spent a walked around a few days just to get the views in, Barcelona is a beautiful city to walk around and downtown is big enough that it’ll take you a while to but not too big that you’d need to actually take the tour bus to see the sights or jump around from stop to stop on the subway.
In the evening one night I went down and watched the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. It’s pretty cool, watching the light show with the changing water fountain patterns all to music. It’s quite popular as the place was packed, I stayed back and watched and took photos from a distance, not wanting to get into a packed crowd at night, prime place pick pocketers (They’re bad in Barcelona, long story short a pair tried to make me a mark on the subway down to the fountain, my Spidey senses kicked in and I noticed them before anything could happen, I stared them down until they left.)
Madrid is the same thing, you can walk around and see a lot of the sights in the city without hoping around taking the transit, I didn’t do as much sight seeing for Madrid as I was recovering form the cold and then dealing with credit card fraud as it seems my card got swiped in Barcelona.
Dealing with Credit Card Fraud
I watch my expenses quite closely, I have for some time now, years even. There are several reasons for this, like making sure my bills are paid, that I know how much I have free to spend and keep track of my budget, and that I don’t get screwed over with fraudulent charges. Credit card fraud is something I figured would happen on this journey, one of the several travel fears that are bound to happen eventually that no one wants to deal with. This happened on one of the last days I was in Barcelona , I caught it mid way through my stay in Madrid, and by the end of my stay in Porto it was resolved, so I was lucky to catch it early and get things settled and it really wasn’t so bad looking bad, but during the whole event it was a bit stressful. When I first found out I wanted to get to bottom of it instantly it and skipped on training one day. I saw extra charges from Air BnB and Expedia. I went to both those sites and punched in the reference numbers for the charges, for both sites they came up as not from my account so I couldn’t cancel them but I did change my password for the accounts.
The next thing to do was call my credit card and flag the charges to get them reversed. The problem is I didn’t have the ability to make long distance calls on my phone and you can only make international calls on certain phones in Spain. After asking the hostel and going to the Police station I found out that these international phones are only at post offices and chat cafes. I wasn’t about to go to place and get charged per minute to call an international long distance call that’s supposed to be toll free. The charges would be way too much for that. So I started looking for other ways to contact the credit card company. I saw that I could put flags on the charges and online, and get that, but wanted to speak to the person and see what my full options were and how I could resolve this easiest.
After speaking to friends on Facebook and getting some ideas to try out I found out that I can call toll free numbers using Skype and it would just use data. So while using the hostel wifi I made the call and talked to a representative. By this time I was in Porto and it took a few calls, and talking to people online and sort everything out but eventually I had it all planned out. Unfortunately I would have to get the current card cancelled but a new card would be soon on it way to me and the fraudulent charges would be investigated and reversed as soon as possible. In the end the card never made it’s way to me, that’s a completely different story for another time, but the charges were all reversed within a week and I was back to normal on my way, just with no back up credit card now.
When I first started planning out my visit to Spain and Portugal Shannon’s name came up on the BJJ Globetrotters Facebook group and the gym he trains at, Templum BCN as a place to visit. I contacted him to get the information for the gym and we planned to meet up, unfortunately our meet up never worked out but I did get to make it out to the gym. Templum is in an MMA gym and the Jiu-Jitsu club had a fair sized mat space, next to the cage where kickboxing was going on. There were some weights in the front and from what I could see there was a yoga or aerobic room in the back a level above that overlooked the front of the gym.
It was a nice place to train at and there were some monsters on the mats, as would expected with Yan Cabral training everyone. Yan was there that night too, he was teaching a kids class when I showed up but then went off to do his own training and then run a MMA class. I would have loved to be a class with him or at least get a photo with him but I also didn’t want to bother him and he seemed pretty busy. A brown belt, who’s name I forget but he was a super nice guy and a spider monkey when we rolled, took over class and taught us some cool attack from the opponent being turtled up, some of which I’ve added to my game and have been working on ever since. The class was cool to train with, everyone gave me a lot of help if I needed it and we made all the techniques shown work. Sometimes I take a few extra minutes to get the technique working for me, I drill it a slowly a few times to figure out all the body movements, sometimes I need to look at the positions I end up in and need to change some things so I don’t end up putting myself in a bad position. Long story short I like to troubleshoot new techniques when I’m learning them. I had no problem doing that and got all the help I needed when drilling with this class. When it came to rolling time they weren’t so nice, maybe it was me still not used to the heat, or just not being as athletic as these guys, but I got steamed rolled by everyone there except the brown belt who just toyed with me and floated on me the whole time. It was a good night and I definitely earned those new moves after those rolls. Thanks guys!
I originally didn’t know about Robin Gracie being in Barcelona, I somehow missed that place when looking. When I put another post on the Globetrotters group listing all my stops in Spain and Portugal several people told me to check out Robin Gracie’s, so I look them up and went. At this point Paul from Paris was also visiting Barcelona and decided to meet up with me and check out the Gracie Academy Barcelona with me. It was a little hard to find the place, there was no sign out front, and with construction on the road it was really hard to look for the address. Luckily as I was walking down the street looking around another student saw my Jiu-Jitsu bag and offered to show me where it was. I would have never the guessed from the outside it was a Jiu-Jitsu gym inside, it looked like another apartment building like the rest on the street. Once I made it in and changed I made sure to contact Paul and wait out at the front door to wave him down on the street. Apparently he passed the place a few times having no clue it the gym was inside. That being said it’s a nice gym, nice size clean mat space with showers in the change rooms, and not sharing space with loud cross-fitters, it was a good hidden place for Jiu-Jitsu.
Robin Gracie himself was away doing a seminar somewhere so the class was more a study group with us going over some different areas to work on that people were wanting to train. It was a fun class, really chill with everyone seemed to really be into learning and working on different things. I showed Paul a technique I learned the other night that I figured he would really like and he showed the guys there a cool technique that worked with what we were covering. Rolling with everyone was another fun experience, some seemed to roll a bit harder with me, Paul and I made the joke later that it’s the curse of being a big guy, people just want to take it to the big guy, but seriously it was a fun time, too Robin Gracie wasn’t in town for us to meet though, maybe next time!
After class Paul and I hung out at a cafe, where was ate some cheesy covered hotdog that we were way too happy to try after a good Jiu-jitsu class, they were not near as good as the pictured showed, but still good enough to devour, although again that could of been the post Jiu-Jitsu class appetite, hahah. We hung out and chatted for a long time, a few hours anyways, it was a great time, I would have loved to film it as a video for the blog but I didn’t having my camera on me at the time and going to get it would have been a bit out of the way. Anyways, we must have talked about everything possible for traveling, training at visiting gyms, and Jiu-Jitsu in general. It was a great afternoon after a good class but I think I caught too much sun and got sick, a heavy price to pay for good conversation, but still a great time hanging out with Paul, until we meet again buddy!
Ricardo Oliveira Jiu-Jitsu
Now I was at Madrid, fighting off the cold but not yet dealing with credit card fraud. I had been referred to Ricardo and we had been talking a short while online. He was a really nice guy from our messages and I was looking forward to meeting him and his school. I only managed to make it out once, dealing with everything else held me back from training much, but it was a great time. The Jiu-Jitsu club, Ricardo Oliveira Jiu-Jitsu (ROJJ), is in a gym Athlos Training Center. The gym is pretty small, I would say half the space or more is mat space for Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts classes with a small area for working out in the front. The whole place seemed very new, like it had just opened recently, if not they’ve kept it very well and clean.
The class was small and everyone there was very happy to have a visitor, I got asked quite a few questions about traveling and visiting clubs. Ricardo himself was a very nice guy and made me very comfortable to be visiting his club. Class was relaxed, drilling on things at our own pace and working on getting the mechanics of the technique. This is good for me because I was still dealing with my respiratory system, my sinuses and throat felt like they had been burned out so it was hard to breath while doing anything too active. I couldn’t roll that night because of this but sat back and watched, they were a very technical group of people so it was very interesting watching them. It’s too bad my trip to Madrid was plagued with problems but I very much enjoyed meeting and training with Ricardo’s club, thanks guys!
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
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