Guide for going to the IBJJF European Championships

If you’ve never been to Lisbon this guide will help you prepare for your trip. If you’re a regular Euros goer check if you’ve missed anything cool and let me know if I have!

Flights and Accommodation

IBJJF European Championships always take place in January, which is far from the high season in Lisbon. Unless you’re travelling from another continent the trip is very affordable. Booking your flights one month in advance will get you return tickets at around £100 from London Heathrow or up to 50% less than that from smaller London airports.

Airbnb is usually the best accommodation option in Lisbon. It’s much cheaper than hotels, you get access to the kitchen, which can lower food costs and is crucial when watching weight. Lots of places can be found all over the city.

There is just one thing you have to remember when booking an Airbnb in Lisbon for the IBJJF European Championship – heating. Make sure the place has it and when the owner lets you in make sure that it works too. Many buildings in Lisbon don’t have central heating and while the Portuguese winter is mild, 10 degrees inside the flat is far from pleasant.

Pricewise, in Jan 2020 a private double room in a fully equipped flat near Roma metro station cost £155 for 6 days. This is a decent price, but you can find even better bargains.

ibjjf european championship

Where to Stay for the IBJJF European Championship

Lisbon has a very good tube system. Generally, staying near one of the stations will allow you to get everywhere you need to go, which is useful if you want to minimise costs as much as possible. A single ticket is only € 1.50 regardless of your destination. You will also need to buy a rechargeable card for € 0.50 on which the tickets are stored.

If you want to stay in an area, which will let you enjoy Lisbon the most and guarantee easy access to the venue check out the map below. Bairro Alto is the most popular and touristy one. It’s close to many attractions and full of cool bars, restaurants and shops, but you need to be prepared to walk up and down numerous stairs. A bit further North there is the Roma area, which I stayed in this year. It’s halfway between the venue and the centre. It’s quieter than Bairro Alto, but there are still plenty of great food places and services available.

The Euros venue is now in the same hall in Odivelas every year. If you’re only flying out for a day or two to compete yourself you may want to stay next to the venue. If you’re staying any longer than that, choose somewhere closer to the centre as there is absolutely nothing else in Odivelas.

Fifty shades of tiles

Travelling to the Venue and Getting Around

If you’re a commuting Londoner at the IBJJF European Championship, you likely already have Citymapper on your phone. For those who don’t use it, it is a public transport app that’s more accurate that Google maps (it shows you which end of the train to get on, which side of the street to walk on and has a much more responsive gyroscope). It is great for figuring out your route and it’s very precise with public transport times. It works very well in London, Lisbon, Stockholm and it saved me in LA!

The easiest way of getting to the venue by public transport is to go to Senhor Roubado station and then walk for about 10 min. You might be tempted to take a bus from the metro tube station, but bear in mind that they don’t run very often.

Uber is a good option too. Depending on demand it costs around € 10 to get there from most areas close to the city centre.

Things to Do

I won’t go into the details of the biggest attractions, because this post describes all of them better than I ever could. A true no-bullshit guide to Lisbon’s landmarks.

I will say though, that if you end up having a free day it’s worth it taking the tram 15E from the centre to Belém (the first area described in the blog post above).

Belém is where the most famous custard tart place, Pasteis de Belem, is located. The first time I went to Lisbon, I was very skeptical of travelling somewhere to stand in a famously long line just to eat the original egg tart. This time around I gave it a try and definitely didn’t regret it.

When you get off in Belém do start your exploring by trying the original pastel de nata. But! There is nothing special about the cafe itself, so feel free to join the takeaway line, which moves very quickly and you’ll be supplied with your pastries, cinammon and sugar to have them with in under 7 min. We decided to enjoy them in one of the stunning parks nearby, which is what I’d recommend. Once you’re done with your pastries, the Monument of Discoveries and the Belém Tower are just a short walk away.

With the Belém Tower in the background

What to Eat

There are lots of amazing food places in Lisbon, so instead of trying to list any specific ones let me tell you about the types of local food worth seeking out!

  • Pastel de Nata – they can be bought all over Lisbon, but make sure to get them from a bakery for the full experience of the soft crunchiness that melts in your mouth. The cold ones are lovely too, but it’s not quite the same.
  • Churrascaria – aka the Portuguese barbecue, where the waiters walk from table to table carrying around freshly grilled pieces of various meats, which they carve straight onto your plate. They are all-you-can eat places, so be prepared for a big meal and prebook your table to avoid waiting.
  • Grilled octopus with potatoes – if you like seafood, this is to die for.
  • Pastel de Bacalhau – these are cod cakes filled with warm goats cheese. You can also find similarly shaped cakes filled with meat and cheese, which are even better.
The food pictures aren’t mine. I always get started on the food before I remember to take them…

Other Useful Tips

Locals don’t do anything in a rush, so make sure that you have enough time for everything.

There are many luggage lockers in the city, which are handy if you can’t leave your luggage at the Airbnb after checkout. These ones are particularly well-priced, but avoid making my mistake of not bringing coins.

Coffee sizes in Lisbon are 1/3 of what you’d expect in the UK. If you can’t live without normal sized cups (I like to enjoy my coffee for longer than just 2 min) check out places like Dear Breakfast or if desperate, seek out a Starbucks.

What is your favourite thing to do/eat in Lisbon?


Infini Jiu-Jitsu (Strasbourg, France)

Strasbourg, France —Next Stop: Strasbourg and its most popular and possibly the oldest Christmas market in Europe! Also, it was my first city in France on my journey, and I could not have been more excited. Although my weekend trip to Strasbourg was rather short, I had an opportunity to drop by Infini Jiu-Jitsu’s open mat to sneak a training session in.

Please don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for recent updates: @jwwseo

Located along the Rhine River in France and across from Kehl, Germany, the city simultaneously walks a fine line between a medieval past and a progressive future. France and Germany argued over custody of the region for centuries, but every aspect of Strasbourg including food, languages, and culture is neither German nor French: It is truly Alsatian. A blend of German and French influences in the city is what makes Strasbourg so unique among other European cities. From Strasbourg Cathedral to Petite France, the city truly looks straight out of a fairy tale.

Infini Jiu-Jitsu is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club offering grappling and yoga classes in Strasbourg. The academy is led by Salah Mezhoud who is a black belt under David Giorsetti since October 2016. Professor Mezhoud started Jiu-Jitsu in 2009 at the age of 31. Despite being a late starter, he frequently traveled to Brazil to dedicate himself to the art at well-known academies including the Carlson Gracie Academy and honed his skills among the best. Being a trainer by profession, he was able to easily translate his grappling skills to the students and created the academy that is now known as Infini Jiu-Jitsu.

Infini Jiu-Jitsu’s name was derived from the constant evolution and limitless nature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the academy promotes a sharing culture by proudly stating, “We gladly welcome any newcomers and visitors on our mats!” on the website. Living up to the expectation, my Facebook message for the visit was responded to promptly with a welcoming message: “It’s free, you’re invited 😉.”

Unfortunately, my schedule only allowed me to attend the open mat, and I joined about 15 students on the mat on a Saturday afternoon. I awkwardly walked onto the spacious open mat within the sports complex in Strasbourg. Luckily, people in gis came up to me first and invited me. From talking about our backgrounds to which restaurants I should try that evening, the atmosphere at the gym was vibrant and welcoming. Although I was not able to join a class at Infini Jiu-Jitsu, judging from the skills of the students who were on the mat that day, I can only imagine classes are well-instructed and organized.

If you are in Strasbourg, I encourage you to reach out to them and join them for evening training sessions. I am sure you will be welcomed into the Strasbourg BJJ community with open arms. Thank you, everyone, at Infini Jiu-Jitsu for great rolls and food recommendations. I hope to see you all soon!

Location & Facility
Infini Jiu-Jitsu’s facility was located approximately 20-minutes away via public transportation from Strasbourg’s city center. It was located within a mega-sports complex and had a spacious mat space for grappling. (Google Map: Link)

Infini Jiu-Jitsu offers classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays followed by yoga classes. The academy’s most recent schedule is posted below:

Visitor Pass
Infini Jiu-Jitsu is a BJJ Globetrotters affiliated gym. However, it is always courteous to reach out to the gym before your visit.

Miscellaneous — Infini Jiu Jitsu’s Website

Things to do

  • Cathédrale Notre Dame — The Gothic cathedral is the highest medieval building in Europe built in 1842 featuring an impressive astronomical clock. This impressive monument of Alsace’s heritage is an outstanding masterpiece surrounded by many local legends. It is hard to miss the cathedral when you are walking around Strasbourg.
  • Christkindelsmärik —  The annual Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the most popular Christmas markets throughout Europe, which draws approximately 2 million visitors every year. Opened from the last week of November to the end of December, the Christkindelsmärik with over 300 stalls across the entire city of Strasbourg is currently one of the largest in the world. Don’t forget to pick out a few Christmas gifts from the market!
  • Flammkuchen — Although this traditional dish might have different names depending on the region, flammkuchen in German, tarte flambée in French or flammekuechle in Alsatian all translate to “pie baked in the flames.” It is a specialty of Alsace and Baden-Württemberg regions on the German-French border, and this delicious pie is composed of bread dough covered with crème fraiche, sliced onions, and bacon.