I like books.
When I travel to a new city, I always wind up popping into random bookstores I see along the road and look around. Even if the books are in another language and I can’t read a thing. It doesn’t matter. I still look through them.
I also take note of interesting books and add them to my Amazon Wishlist. To come back and read some day. The number of books on that list just keeps growing. And growing.
I will never read all of them. Lots of interesting books.
I don’t really carry physical copies of books around with me anymore. Its a lot easier to just carry a Kindle. 50 books in my pocket.
One of those books is ‘The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter’ by Christian Graugart. It had been on my Wishlist ever since Masa first told me about Christian and his trip well over a year and half ago. Before I even knew much about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).
But, I never bought it. I thought I had. I looked through my Kindle, but it wasn’t there.
I had read a few travel memoirs before and the idea of traveling and training at various Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms was interesting to me.
In fact, I even started doing it myself. I started training BJJ in September 2013 when I was in Taiwan. Since then I’ve trained in 10 different gyms in 7 different countries.
I joined Graugart’s BJJ Globetrotters team when I first heard about it, and I’ve even used it to find places to train at while I travel.
But, I still hadn’t read his book. It just sat there on my Wishlist: one of those things “I really should read one of these days” along with the many other books on that list. They pile up like documentaries in a Netflix queue.
Flight ticket frustrations and change of plans
Last month, after a couple of weeks of surviving solely on espresso shots and Pastels de Nata, and in between blowing up eggs in the hostel’s microwave (true story), I got paid for a project and decided to sit down and figure out my travel plans. I could buy my flight tickets and finally get back to Texas for the holidays, after two and a half years of not stepping foot in my home state.
My original plan was to go from Portugal to Ireland, spend about a month in Dublin working and training BJJ and then fly back to Austin. The reason I had this plan was because I thought the flights from Dublin to Austin were fairly inexpensive.
All the prices that were being shown were lies. Completely untrue. No matter the flight aggregate site: Momondo, Skyscanner, Kayak. They were all lying to me about the price of this ticket. It looked fairly inexpensive, but every time I went to buy it, it jumped up 250 Euro (about $300) from the advertised price. I eventually figured out why. The airline was pushing half the price of a roundtrip ticket to these aggregate sites, rather than the true price of a one-way. So, the prices that were being shown were prices that didn’t actually exist. I’m not paying this much. I refuse.
I start looking for cheaper alternatives. I still wanted to get to Texas for the holidays, but now I didn’t know how. It took almost a whole day of searching and playing around with alternative routes, but then I stumbled on fairly cheap flights being offered by Norwegian Airlines.
Extended layovers: one of my favorite travel tricks
Whenever I find a certain airline offering a good price on a route I usually look into doing an extended layover in the country they are based in, just so I can see another place. This is how I visited Seoul (Korean airline flight from Shanghai to Singapore), Dubai (Air Emirates flight from Singapore to London), and even Dublin the first time in 2012 (cheapest route from UK to Boston).
So, now I’m looking at Air Norwegian flights. Do I want to spend a few days in Norway? In December?
It sounds cold. And dark. Only a couple of hours of daylight. I don’t even have a good winter coat. I had one when I lived in Boston, but I left it in the US when I bought that one way ticket for Singapore. No winter coats are needed by the equator.
Then, another thought occurred to me: all of Scandinavia is pretty much the same, maybe the flights would also be cheap if I did a layover in Sweden, Finland, or Denmark, instead of Norway?
Yep, they were.
I’ve gotten a lot better with world geography over the past few years as I’ve traveled, but I still knew nothing about Scandinavia. After a quick brush up familiarizing myself with the major cities there, I was reminded that Oslo is in Norway, Helsinki is in Finland, Stockholm is in Sweden, and Copenhagen is in Denmark.
Copenhagen? Oh, that’s where the BJJ Globetrotters guy has his gym.
Now, I had an idea. No. Now I had a plan.
I booked the flights and emailed Christian. He told me I picked good dates and invited me to his Christmas party. Traditional Danish Christmas food on deck.
I should probably read his book before I get there.
It’s been on my reading list for awhile. So, I bought it and read it while I was traveling around Ireland (and training BJJ at academies around Ireland).
The book inspired me
It inspired me to keep training. It inspired to me to keep traveling.
But, mostly, it inspired me to start writing again (Hence, the blog is back)
I knew about the hospitality of BJJ guys around the world, having experienced a bit of it myself while traveling. But, its always interesting to see someone else’s take on his own travel experiences. It was really interesting to see Christian reflect on his trip and how it shaped his life thinking even after returning home.
Overall, I just like to hear other people’s stories and experiences, and this book had plenty of that.
It’s a book that should inspire you. Whether you train BJJ or not. You can still take on the world. And win.
Mentioned in the post:
‘The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter: The true story about a frantic, 140 day long, around-the-world trip to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ‘ by Christian Graugart.