Greetings From Hamburg Germany! (25 June – 1 July, and 3-5 July)
Actually, I’m in Australia, on a train from Melbourne on my way to Sydney as I write this. It’s been a busy past month, my last article I managed to write during my layovers flying to Perth Australia from San Diego USA. It seems during these long travel days is the only time I’m finding I’m able to write this blog now. It’s getting hard to find time to sit and write when you spend all day meeting cool people, training at new clubs and seeing amazing cities. Of course that just means I have more adventures to tell you all about, once I’m able to write them.
So I last left off in Dusseldorf Germany, walking to the train station as a Bavarian marching band played a few songs for the hostel, for reasons beyond me. I found my train and got on, only to realize that my ticket had no seat number on it. As the train left I found an empty seat, only to be told I’m in another passenger’s seat when they boarded the next stop. I moved to another seat only to have to move again, and again and again. Finally I gave up, this was a busy route and I was on standby for a seat, so in the interest of convenience and not having to move over and over I did the rational thing, I sat in the hallway between train cars by the door.
Once I got in to Hamburg main station I switched to use the local trains and make my way to Nexus Fighter Academy, where I’d be staying during this visit. I had been speaking to Ana Yagues, the head black belt and owner of the club, on Facebook, we met through the BJJ Globetrotter community and she had invited me over. It was an easy trip to the academy but I had three different people ask if I required help, basically every time I looked at the the map on my phone there happened to be a local around noticing and willing to help. I partly suspected they were just as happy to show a visitor they knew English as much as they were happy to help someone new get around their city. In any case I’ve yet to be offered so much help in any of the cities I’ve been to so far. It was a great first impression for Hamburg and actually made me feel bad for not actually being lost so they could help me more than just confirm I was indeed on the right track.
During my time in Hamburg I took off for the weekend, flying back to London England for 2 days for the Kieth Owen seminar and my friend Ellie’s birthday party. I’ve written about that crazy 48 hr adventure before on the ‘Seminars and Camps’ post, if you want to read about it again. One thing I didn’t cover during that piece was the heightened security all over the down town core and especially the Hamburg airport. There were teams of 3 patrolling all over the place, I got asked for my passport twice while walking to check into to my flight and something like 4 times before ever leaving the airport when I returned from London. I was wondering why so much security and then when I got onto Facebook it all became clear. The G20 meeting was happening in Hamburg that week. The G20 meetings are infamous for the amount of protests and riots they bring to the city. I could see now why they kept checking me, an up-to-no-good looking, black hoodie wearing tourist. Luckily I wasn’t confused for someone else and detained for an absurd amount of time, although that would have made a good story.
Sights of The City
While staying with Ana and her club I did manage to get out a bit and see some of Hamburg, although it was rainy half the time so I didn’t go out exploring too much. I would have liked to get out during the night time and really experience the entertainment district of Reeperbahn but I couldn’t draw myself to make the effort and go out to the night clubs on my own. Given that it’s also the red light district it’s perhaps better I didn’t venture into the streets lined with bars and strip clubs on my own after all. I did however make my way down to the center of town to see the Rathaus and other old buildings around the area.
If you like checking out my photos head off to my Flicker account and give some love to your favourite shots, thanks!
Nexus Fighter Academy
Nexus Fighter Academy is just around the corner from the train station, on the top floor of a industrial building that had different businesses on each floor, the club has a lot of mat space with a big main space and a smaller room for the kids classes. When I first got to the club I meet Lilo, a black belt who and trains with Ana and teaches at the club, she showed a quick tour of the club, told me of the schedule and of the stores around the area and showed me the couch in the back room I’d be sleeping on during my visit. Being Globetrotters themselves they’ve hosted a few travelers so this was nothing new. There was a class about to start that Lilo was running, and she ran the morning classes during the week as well, but I was quite sore and instead just watched and stretched out, using my foam roller on my aching and knotted back.
I wasn’t able to stretch or foam roll in Dusseldorf as there was no room for it at the hostel and now that I was able to use it I realized how badly in need of stretching out I was. That’s actually one of the many cool things I noticed with Nexus Fighter is they are very good at stretching both before and after class, doing group warm ups and cool downs. I’ve picked up a few usual stretches from them, particularly a set of stretches they do after class using their belt to really open the hips and groin so they don’t become tight afterwards. As the week went on I noticed Lilo’s moves are so graceful and slick, there’s a few times she was teaching where I got lost on how fluid and seamless she made it look, not just techniques but her cool functional movement warm ups as well. This was something I told my friends in Heidelberg during the BJJ Globetrotter Fall Camp just before her class she taught there, they were blown and away watching her as well and even have since had her back for a seminar. And Lilo isn’t the only one there, the whole team of instructors at Nexus Fighter were great at showing some new chain or body movement that blew me away.
I finally met Ana the day after arriving and handed her the chocolate I had bought for her in Switzerland, which I had somehow been able to avoid eating all this time. It was a key component to staying at the club, my rent so to speak. Ana is very nice and friendly, she was happy to have me come and not just visit but be a part of the club. It’s easy to see Ana doesn’t just run a club, she makes feel like a Jiu-Jitsu home. Any time she was at the club we would find time to chat about traveling and visiting different people or all the thing she had going on running everything. She had a genuine interest in my visiting and also having others a part of helping out the club.
There is a camaraderie with Nexus Fighter that made me feel at home training and staying with them. Prime of example of this was one night after class there was a going away birthday party for their wrestling coach, a fellow Canadian from Montreal, David Mendelsohn. I jumped in a car with a bunch from the club after class as we all met up at a restaurant for his party, once everyone had shown up they all finally took off their jackets or sweaters they were still wearing, which I found was weird in the first place, to show they had all got special shirts made up for the occasion. It was a great night full of conversation and laughs, I believe we were one of the last groups out of the restaurant, only to continue conversing on the streets until it started to rain.
During my time training with everyone I made a few new friends, learned a few new techniques and even ran into a fellow Globetrotter I had met in London, my first stop outside of Canada, but most importantly I got to train with a great club. I highly recommend visiting Ana and Nexus Fighter Academy if you travel to Hamburg Germany!
One day after class Ana and I did an interview together. Being a mother of 2, by the way I should warn you that if you visit you might end up being kidnapped by them and made to play games, as well as a gym owner, instructor and a top level competitor. Ana’s ability to juggle it all is very impressive and inspires everyone around her. I had to get her story to share for you all and show what is possible when you just set your mind to it. Head over to the Panda’s Odyssey YouTube Channel to check this incredible interview. While you’re there show the channel some love, like, comment, share and subscribe please!
Hamburg was amazing experience and my time there came to an end all too soon. I was sad to leave but also looked forward to seeing the next city on my stop, the last stop in Germany: Berlin!
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
WAYS TO SUPPORT PANDA’S ODYSSEY!
Sign up to the Panda’s Odyssey Patreon Account.
Buy Panda’s Odyssey Patches at The Gi Hive.
Buy a shirt at Panda’s Jiu-Jitsu Store.
Follow me and other traveling Jiu-Jitsueros at the BJJ Globetrotters blog section.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Check out my full photo albums for each article at my Flickr account.
Add me and follow along on most social media @pandasodyssey