Greetings From Berlin Germany! (5-10 July 2017)
After a fun and eventful time in Hamburg it was time for my last stop in Germany, a city on my list of top cites I’d like to visit, Berlin! The train ride in was pretty quick and easy as was finding the gym, Hilti BJJ as Frank, who I had been talking to about visiting and training, gave me directions to find my way. I’ll speak more on my time there later but now I’d like to cover a different adventure that was going on at this time. The adventures of the care package my Mom sent me.
So back in May I was supposed to have a friend meet up with me in Morocco, those plans fell through at the very last minute, but not before already setting up having my Mom send a package to them to bring over to me. Once the package then made it’s way back to my parents place it was a while before figuring out when, or where, she could finally send it to me. Since I had my stops in Germany set up well in advance I figured I would have her send it to me when I was visiting Hilti BJJ so that there would be enough time to send the parcel from Canada. It was all planned out and set, I would be finally getting a parcel, that had some important items, I’d been waiting months to get. Of course there was problems as nothing ever works out perfectly and I wouldn’t be writing about it if it did.
As it ends up the parcel was held for an extra day or two in customs, and then there was a government holiday, so by the time it was released and dropped off to the gym I was already gone. Missed me by one day. In fact as I was flying to my next stop Frank sent me a photo of the parcel now in his possession to which I could only laugh and reply “go figure”. I would have to wait a bit longer to pick up this package now but at least it was in Europe. I would be going back to Germany in about 6 weeks for the BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp and having just been there I now had some new friends to help me out. After some messaging back and forth I had Ruadhan’s (the Globetrotter I met and who helped me set up my visit to Heidelberg) mailing address sent to Frank so he could send the parcel along and Ruadhan would have it ready for me once I got in for the camp. This time the plan actually worked and I finally received the care package, a package that was originally sent to me in May, and that traveled through Canada and USA probably most of Europe, that I finally got at the end of August. The care package probably almost did as much traveling as I did before getting to me.
So at this point there was a lot of waiting and back and forth with my Mom to figure if and when the parcel was showing up. I started and ended everyday off with checking out the online tracking and asking the guys at the security office if any parcel had been delivered. It didn’t interfere with my visiting too much but it did weigh on my mind most the time as I traveled around the city seeing the many sights.
Seeing The Historical Sights of Berlin
There’s lots to see in Berlin, the whole city is full of historical sights from WWII, some that are memorials and others that are old buildings now modified for modern use or kept as museum now, as well as newer buildings like the TV Tower, or Fernsehturm, or the Mall of Berlin. I took photos of as much as I could but clearly needed another week or more to really explore this city.
Parts of the Berlin Wall has been turned into an art gallery, called the East Side Gallery sections of the wall are graffiti’d and periodically they re-paint them all white and have local artist do all new murals again.
There’s also still parts of the wall kept to see and read about the history of the Nazi era around a museum called the Topography of Terror.
Checkpoint Charlie, the (in)famous security point between West Berlin and the Soviet occupied East Berlin. It’s now a famous tourist sight complete with people dressed up as guards to take pictures with and all sorts of souvenir shops and ‘checkpoint’ theme restaurants, such as ‘Checkpoint Curry’.
I have more photos of my travels an adventures over on my Flickr account, head over there if you want to see more and maybe show some love by liking or commenting on few of them, thanks!
Hilti BJJ & Frank
When I was first looking at places to train at in Germany Hilti BJJ Berlin and Frank Burczynski’s name came up to the top, along with Ana and Nexus Fighter Academy, who I had just visited in Hamburg. I contacted him through e-mail and he responded back pretty quickly letting me know I was welcome to stay at his gym and train with the club. Frank is a well known and respected black belt in the Germany BJJ scene and I would have loved to do an interview with him but he was busy with a million things and actually was off at a tournament coaching his team and refereeing for most the time I spent at Hilti BJJ. Frank also had a seminar set up before the weekend with Nicolas Gregoriades of Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood, which I covered in my ‘Camps & Seminars’ article.
Hilti BJJ is part of IMAG JKD Berlin, sharing a big space with two different mat areas and a big kickboxing area with pads and heavy bags and mirrors and thick crash mats off in the corner for throws. There’s also big change rooms, where I stored my bags, with showers. With the exception of a kitchen I had everything I needed, I slept on a crash mat in a dark corner of the gym and it was probably one of the most comfortable sleeps I had in Europe. More gyms should get crash mats.
The club was full of different people and skill levels, everyone was generally friendly and I got along with everyone during my stay there. I had some great rolls and everyone was really helpful telling which clubs are good to check out on what nights or where’s good to eat around the gym. I didn’t get to train with everyone too much, I strained my groin after the seminar with Nic Gregoriades so I wasn’t able to train there or the other clubs I was looking to visit like BJJ Akademie, Ringside Gym, or Ralf Warneking Jiu-Jitsu, who I had been talking to about visiting for a while. I was bummed out for not being able to train much while at such a great city for training but it did give me chance to get out and see much of the sights there. I will say this, from what I saw of the Berling Jiu-Jitsu scene it is amazing, friendly and definitely worth checking out. Thank you Frank for everything, I hope we cross paths again in the future and get to spend more than a few classes hanging out!
This was my last stop in Germany and with that the end of my 3 months I was allowed to stay in the European Zone. If you don’t know most non-European countries are only allowed 90 days out of 180 in the European Zone, or Schengen Area. I had come to the end of that time and I didn’t want to risk going over and being kicked out if caught while crossing a border down the line. I have yet to return to Europe as I’ve headed East toward South East Asia, I’m looking to return early next year (2018).
The first stop heading East after Germany was one of the first spots I planned out before leaving Canada, and I had been waiting excitedly for this, St. Petersburg Russia: Home of Sambo!
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
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