As soon as we heard that Iceland was accepting international visitors we got rather excited about attending the BJJ Globetrotters Iceland Camp. Despite challenges with UK travel requirements and tricky flight booking (our flights changed 3 times) we knew we had to find a way to get there! A full of week of BJJ rolling, instructions and fun without covid restrictions sounded exactly like the perfect trip to get back to BJJ adventures!
I’ve previously blogged about the BJJ Globetrotters camp that was held in Belgium in 2018 where I had a wonderful time. So I knew roughly what to expect in terms of the camp and the general vibe. The Iceland camp is held in Reykjavik at the word famous Mjolnir MMA academy which is located a short-ish walk / or an even shorter scooter from the centre of town. The gym it’s self has a main training room for BJJ as well as a slightly smaller mat space that’s is used for MMA as well as grappling. Plus a smaller black matted room which hosted talks and the ladies classes. There is also a beautiful CrossFit gym space, alongside changing rooms, sauna and hot tub.
The schedule for the camp was packed as usual with five days of training including seminars and open mats. Due to the venue unsurprisingly there was a lot of No-Gi content but there was still enough gi classes to keep both myself and my hubby very busy. I am not going to write a break down of the technical seminars but I typically did 2-3 of the technical sessions a day plus a bit of open mat most days. Except one day where everything I wanted to do seem to land resulting in 5 hours on training which was a bit much even for me!
Luckily to help with retention a lot of the classes were filmed and have been published for free via Globetrotters in Action and all of the classes were good but highlights included Single Leg X with Gunnar Nelson, Amazing defensive BJJ with Priit Mihkelson, Matrix magic with Daði Steinn and special mention to Charles Harriot for is high energy coaching style and tips! As you can see it was an International and eclectic bunch of coaches from this snippet alone!
Off the mats the team organise a range of activities, we tended to do our own thing most of the time but did sign up to spend the day with nearly 100 grappler enjoying the sights of the Icelandic Golden Circle. Additionally there are loads of things to do as a tourist in Iceland; we spent our time enjoying Reykjavik but also took the time to go whale watching which I would highly recommend as well as some relaxation at the Sky Lagoon (which Globetrotter did secure a discount for).
The main off mat activity which I couldn’t miss was the first World Premier of the “Gentle Art of Travel” Documentary. I will probably blog about this more when the film is live on YouTube later in the year. So I wont say much as I don’t want to spoil it – other than it is excellent! The BJJ Globetrotters book (which is well worth a read and recommended in an earlier blog!) outlines how everything started. This film picks up the story both in terms of Christian’s personal motivations and thoughts as well as the chaos, creative and coolness of the 2019 camp programme.
Getting around – Taxi’s are very expensive in Iceland but really reliable. We used them to get to and from the airport rather than the FlyBus thanks to a special offer linked to our accommodation. But beyond that most places in the city are walkable distances, plus there are electric scooters for hire all around the city using apps (I used Hopp). I also figured out the bus services in the last few days of camp (to get to the lagoon) and using the app was really easy to buy tickets and workout routes etc.
Food and Things – I had heard a lot of horror stories about Iceland being very expensive for food and drink. I’ll be honest I think it depended what you want to eat and where you are. In tourist hot spots (like cafe’s on the golden circle) things were very expensive. But for the majority of time it was what I would refer to as “London” prices aka similar to our capital city in costs. We typically paid between £10-15 for a main course in a café / small restaurant depending on what we were eating. Alcohol is very expensive at £8-10 a pint but going to the various “Happy Hours” in the city does reduce the cost to around £5 per pint. The gym also offered a meal prep service at around £10 per meal which we used one night after a later finish to training (it was delicious) and we took advantage of the snacks and coffee available pretty much daily!
We had also gone with an Airbnb which meant we could cater for ourselves so ended up eating a lot of delicious Skyr for breakfast and ensuring we tried as much Icelandic chocolate as we could (Tip – Bonus Supermarkets are the cheapest). Also Icelandic drinking water is totally safe and delicious so there wasn’t any need to buy bottle water which saved some cash compared to other trips.
Kit / Laundry – Our Airbnb had a washer in it and that was a key reason we picked it. There are no laundromats in the city so your accommodation choice is key. You can get away with two gi’s for the trip (one for wearing whilst one is drying) especially if taking the day off for the golden circle and due to the amount of NoGi training. But you will need laundry at least once. but worst case scenario the gym does offer a gi wash service.
Overall I had a fabulous week away and I could spend ages boring you all about it! Simply put whether your travelling as a couple (like I was) or individually I would totally recommend trying out one of the many BJJ Globetrotter Camps held around the globe. We’re already considering if we can get to the Arizona camp later this year (travel restrictions allowing)!