Greetings from Friedrichshafen Germany!
It was a smooth bus ride into Friedrichshafen, my first stop for my month tour through Germany. This visit I would be staying with Ben, a fellow BJJ Globetrotter who had a Matsurfing ad. I messaged Ben and we talked briefly, he was more than happy to have me at his place and show me around his home town. Ben met me at the bus station, drove me back to his place while giving me a quick history of the town, and set me up his spare room and let me settle in. Ben had a lot of plans for training and showing around Friedrichshafen and the surrounding area during my visit, we set out bike around town and meet up with some old friends of his soon after dropping my gear off. There was no wasted time during this visit.
Home of The Zepplin!
Friedrichshafen is the quintessential small German country town. It’s set among beautiful orchids of mostly pears and hops, which the area is quite known for along with the wines and beers made from them. The area itself is also known for the The Three Points as the three countries of Switzerland, Austria and Germany come together and meet at Lake Constance, which Friedrichshafen is placed right in the middle of. The Friedrichshafen area is where the Zeppelin was invented and they’re still very proud of the invention. There’s a museum on the history of it’s creation and statues throughout the area and even a several daily Zeppelin rides to tour the area and see The Three Points from above. During the day when Ben was working I borrowed his bike to spin around town and take pics of the scenery, here’s some of the my best photos from the visit.
One evening we took the ferry over to Konstanz to eat and show me around their neighboring city, which has some awesome old buildings and is actually where Ferdinand von Zeppelin (creator of the Zeppelin) lived.
Staying with Ben
Ben was a great host, he has a nice place with a fully furnished spare room and huge living room with more than enough space for me to put out my yoga mat and foam roller and stretch out. It was very comfortable staying at his place. Friedrichshafen is a small town so it only took 10-15 minutes on bike to get anywhere so during the stay I most just biked around using one of Ben’s bicycles. During our adventures out Ben would fill me in on the history of the area, both before and after the war, as most of the area was blown up during WWII and re-built afterwards. Most of our bike rides were broken up with Ben stopped to say hi to people he knew, which seemed to be most of the town. You quickly got the impression of a safe and friendly small town and I had no problem getting around during day without Ben. Thank you for inviting me into your home and showing me around your beautiful town Ben, you’re a great host! I highly recommend people go visit Ben and the club if you’re doing a visit of Germany!
Training in Austria
One evening Ben brought me out to an open mat session in Dornbirn Austria, which is about an hour away. It was a fun ride through the winding roads and mountain tunnels to this small Austrian town where we met with a few members of the Dornbirn BJJ Carlson Gracie Austria club. The club is in a community center on the top floor in with a Kung Fu club. The club is divided into two sections with a cage wall down the middle of the long room, one side a work out area with weights and machines, and the other a matted floor for martial arts training. The guys were all happy to have us drop by for a few rolls and although my hand was still hurting, I taped it up to try and minimize the problem and roll with some of this beasts. They were all game and very talented, I probably spent more time trying to survive than anything but it was all in good fun, no one going too hard anyone although they did roll with a good amount of speed aggression. By the end of the time we were all beaten, sweaty and tired. Happy to have a good session and hungry to go get some food!
After the session Ben and I and a few from the club went out for kebap. We walked around the city center, showing me some of the downtown beauty of the Dornbirn. We talked about all sorts of things as we hung out, Jiu-Jitsu philosophy, my trip of course and club social events like grabbing food after training or going to the bar together. During our many conversations came up the fact that you can make friends instantly in pretty much any setting by asking “Anyone want to grab some kebap?” as everyone seems to love kebap, even vegetarians will go for falalfel. That brought up the importance of knowing what kebap was, and what it’s called in other languages. I know it as it’s widely called in North America and the middle east, Shawarma, although in my experience in Europe it’s mostly called Kebap or Donner. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but knowing this fact will give you the ability to find food and make friends pretty much anywhere and at anytime as kebap places are usually the latest stores open, if they close at all. So we hung out eating and having a great time socializing after a good session on the mats, making friends and memories all in one night. This is one of the many many awesome experiences on this Odyssey that I set out for, thanks for having me guys!
Rolling with Patrick
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend any training sessions with Ben’s club, bad timing, but I was able to meet up and train with Patrick, purple belt and coach of the club. One day he picked me up and brought me to where the club trains, at the local gym in a gymnastics room that has the entire floor covered in puzzle mats that are designed to look like a wood floor. Patrick is a very gifted, technical and knowledgeable student and while we rolled he was very calculated, picking part my game and mostly toying with me. We would dissect what I got caught on and drill it a bit before continuing rolling some more until I got caught again with something else. We went on like that for an hour or so and if I was in better shape we could have easily spent another hour rolling, drilling and philosophizing. It was a fun session and a great opportunity to learn my weaknesses and get a different perspective on rolling. I was told Patrick drills and trains a lot and has a pretty nice set up at his home too. I would have liked training with Patrick more and attending a class with the club, to see how he runs training, but sadly this was the only time we would train together. I will have to return some day to train with everyone more and get to meet the full club. Thanks for the great one on one session Patrick!
After a fun and educational visit to Ben’s place in Friedrichshafen my first stop in Germany was over, setting the bar high for what to expect for the rest of the trip. I would not be disappointed. Ben dropped me off to catch my train to the next stop: Heidelberg!
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
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