Kelsey Andries

Muay Thai World Champion

Filtering by Tag: Szczecin

World Championship 2016 - From Poland to Sweden

We headed from Szczecin, Poland to Ystad Sweden on May 16th, and then along to Jonkoping on the morning of the 17th. That gave us all day on the 17th to manage our weight and start cutting in preparation for weigh-ins on the morning of the 18th. The trip was a bit of a blur as we moved from city to city in a sleep deprived, food deprived state but it made for a pretty giggle filled journey.

We arrived in the afternoon of the 17th, got settled into our Euro-riffic hotel, Scandic. The rooms are straight up IKEA. They are space efficient and well designed and oh so cute, but I am missing the bathtub, mini fridge and in house coffee maker. It is making this trip more inconvenient than it needs to be. Why might you ask? Well here it is...

No Bathtub - This is necessary for weight cutting for me. This is how I cut weight for fights so I have timing down and know what to expect. When I found out there was no tub I went in search of a hot tub instead. I paid 65 Swedish Krona to get entrance the a MASSIVE rec center that has pools, weight rooms, a wave pool, "hot tubs" and saunas. I found the tub, jumped in and found it to be baby safe warm. In fact I started shivering if I let my shoulders out of the water. Major bust. It was the evening of the 17th and I had to weigh in between 7-10am the morning of the 18th. I had more weight to cut that I had planned so I had to start the night before. The baby bath had me off to a terrible start. So after walking around and shivering I asked the staff. I guess hot tubs are not really a thing here. So they gave me entrance to a nice sauna and I started in there, cutting 1/2 of what I needed to the night before, and then the rest in the morning.

Less than helpful staff - I stepped on the scale at 9:30am on May 18th at a glorious 66.56kg and then it was time to re-hydrate and eat. All of our meals are supposed to be included in our accommodation pricing, which was INSANELY expensive by the way. So I have just finished weighing in, I boogie back to the hotel at 9:45am to get breakfast, only to find it all being packed up (and it is supposed to be open until 10am).  I run to the back and a woman wraps up yogurt and museli and ask if I can just have a small bowl.

Her response - "NO - breakfast is over"

My response - "Ummmmm, I just weighed in and I haven't eaten anything or had water in like 30 hours. Can I just have a bowl of muesli?"

Her response - "NO" and then a long hard Swedish stare.

Ohhhhhhhh, snap woman. I won't forget this. Strike ONE Hotel Scandic. So Art, Hilary, Melissa and I get in the rental car (which we have for another hour) and zip into town to grab some snacks to last us for a few days. You know, bananas, greek yogurt, nuts, heavy cream for my coffee's etc etc. Nothing crazy, but stuff that requires a fridge. We get back to the hotel to find that we have no fridges. So I ask reception for ice (as there are no ice machines) and we make plastic bag mini fridges. Cool - I can make this work as long as replenish the ice.

Fast forward 2 days. ICE LOCK DOWN.

Excuses given by the hotel. 1) We don't have any (LIE)  2) The ice machine is broken (LIE as they serve ice in the drinks in the bar) 3) We aren't allowed to give out ice (LIE - you just did). STRIKE TWO Hotel Scandic.

No Coffee Maker - If you know me, you know that coffee is an essential food group. When I travel I bring beans, a grinder, Aeropress and Aerolatte so I can make fatty coffee, good coffee, team coffee and coach coffee. I enjoy the meditative practice of grinding the beans. I like patiently waiting for the water to make its way through the drip. I love the smell. The taste. And I love making one for someone else and seeing them smile. Well - no coffee maker in the room means no room coffee for Kelsey. Hmmmmmmm this is going to be a problem. WAIT! There is pretty decent coffee at breakfast so Ill just fill up my thermos and make magic happen in my room.

But no - you are not allowed to take coffee from breakfast in a thermos and drink it later. BAD CANADA. You have to drink it in the restaurant only during breakfast but you can have unlimited cups. Acca-scue me? If you want to take coffee away you have to pay for it. $20 Kroner for 350mL. STRIKE THREEEEEEE!

I have tried not to lose my marbles over how we are being treated but it is difficult. We have had to stop eating the food that is being provided for us because the quality is so poor and there are no options for Gluten Free, Halal, Dairy Free etc. A ton of athletes got sick. I spoke with our team manager and there were so many complaints from the athletes, coaches and officials that they switched caterers. I'm hoping that food quality picks up and there are options for me, otherwise I will have to buy all my own food from here on out.

...I don't mean to sound like an entitled North American either (which I may). So I am going to follow all the "feedback" with something positive. I think I learned this technique in coaching 101. The hotel does a few things really well. Their sauna is great and I have dialed in weight cutting there. The cleaning staff are awesome and have helped us out a ton finding places to do laundry, extra towels etc. And they do a decent breakfast. There, I can still find a few nice things to say : )

Enough about that...time for a short history of Jonkoping Sweden! (thanks Wikipedia!)

Jonkoping received city status in 1284 which means its old as fu*k. The first part for the name "Jon" is derived from a creek found on the west side of the city and the second part "Koping" is an old word for trading center or market place. It its situated on Sweden 2nd largest lake, lake Vattern.

Because of its geographical position, Jonkoping was vulnerable to attack along the river routes that lead south. It was predominantly attacked by the Danes. The city was plundered and burned several times until the got smart and fortified the city during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Strange facts about Jonkoping:
- It was the matchstick industry between 1845-1970 which is FUNNY because we went looking for matches and they were impossible to find
-They house the central warehouses for you guessed it…IKEA. And also Husqvarna and Electrolux.
- People have electronic lawn mowing machines that look like Roomba's but your lawn. Watch the video at the bottom of the blog and it will all make sense. You can pick one up for $8,999 Swedish Krona…so $1419 according to Google Currency Convertor
- It is at 57 degree North which is somewhere between Grand Prairie and the North Alberta Boarder

Famous Jonkopians!

Lillian Gertrude Asplund, Titanic Survivor. 706 people survived the sinking of the Titanic in total and Lillian was one of the last three living survivors as she was only 5 when it happened. According to the all knowing Wikipedia, Lillian is actually American! She was born in Massachusetts to a Swedish Immigrant family came from the region around Jonkoping. They returned to Sweden in 1907 to support their family here and then decided to return to America in 1912 via the Titanic with their four sons and Lillian. Lillian, her mother and her brother Felix survived, but her father and 3 other brothers perished.


ABBA member Agnetha Ase Faltskog. Born in Jonkopin April 5th, 1950. Turns out she was famous in Sweden before joining ABBA, which launched her into international stardom. ABBA sold over 380 million albums and singles world wide, making them one of the best selling music artists in history.

Ok enough education for today. Check out the video below for the moving picture/video version of this blog. It has nice music, us being dorks and it took me a long time to make so enjoooooy :)

World Championships 2016 - From Calgary to Poland

Its been a whirlwind first week of travel and training so please forgive the late first blog post.

And it begins...

After what has seemed like the longest training camp in recorded history, I am in Sweden. FINALLY.  The last 2 months have been intense. We increased our training frequency to make more time for one on one work, running, hitting pads etc. It was really nice because I felt like a professional athlete for the first time in my life. Muay Thai has very much been my job for the last 8 weeks and I loved it. Don't get me wrong. It was hard as fu*k, but it was awesome. 

My typical day looked like this:

  • 6am Wake up to the yells of my hungry cats
  • 6:30am Drink ALL THE COFFEE
  • 7-10am Working with my awesome clients at Vita Fitness (shout out!!)
  • 10:30-11:30am Meditate
  • 11:30 Light Lunch
  • 12-1pm Glorious pre-training nap to save my ass
  • 2:30-4pm Run to the gym, small group training, run everywhere else like a crazy runner person
  • 4:30 Eat, rest, email, random cat based activities such as throwing string, belly rubs
  • 6:30-9:30 Run back to the gym, skip, shadow box, bag work, pads, sparring, clinching and getting hit with the discipline stick should I take too long to do any of the aforementioned
  • 10:00pm Late dinner of ridiculously healthy foods
  • 11:00 Hit the HAY 

Our Calgary based Team Canada athletes, consisting of me, Hilary Herman, Jessica Glasdstone and Melissa Reaume,..along with Kru Artur Nowacki, left for Europe on May 11th. The actual IFMA World Championship Tournament does not officially start until well, yesterday, but we wanted to head over early to shake off the jet lag, finish training AND….meet Art's mom Maria. 

We flew from Calgary to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Berlin. From Berlin we called "some Polish guy" that Art's sister set us up with and he drove us to Szczecin, Poland. As soon as we got into Szczecin the history lessons from Art began which I loved.

This city is very interesting, especially if you like old things (which I do) and cool architecture (which I do). I wish I had more time so I could take more pictures.

Essentially it is a mixture of pre-war buildings that are beautiful but took a shit kicking during the war and were never repaired, plain jane concrete communist era buildings, reclaimed buildings that are painted crazy colours and ultra modern buildings. Beautiful insanity. 

We checked in our hotel, the Park Hotel, which I would highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Poland.

THE. BEST. COFFEE. IN. MY. LIFE.

Like no joke. I drank so much coffee that the severs thought I was actually nuts. The breakfast there was also to die for. Its a shame that I had to monitor my food intake so much with the upcoming weigh ins because I would have CRUSHED that breakfast buffet if I could. 

We had a great few days in Szczecin training at Linke Gold Team Pozan. Art knew the guy that owns the gym. They train JiuJitsu and MMA, so there was lots of mat space as well as a heavy bag for us.  We trained two times a day for the 3 days were were there. Lighter sessions in the morning and then longer harder sessions in the afternoon. We were all battling jet lag so in some sessions we would have energy and others we would all feel like a bag of smashed a$$holes. But we all got better and stronger after each training session so despite what we felt like, Art was happy with our performances.  

Despite the jet lag, we did try and get out to see some of what Szczecin has to offer. Hilary, Mel and I took a cab down to the Central Cemetery. It was established in 1901 and is the largest cemetery in Poland and the 3rd largest in Europe, spanning 167.8 hectares. It has over 300,000 graves and is still growing and is a legally protected national monument.

It was beautiful. It is a mixture of a natural park, monuments, architecturally gorgeous chapels, winding roads and of course many many graves. I have never really spent much time in a cemetery but what stuck out for me was how well taken care of the ENTIRE place was. While we were there, we saw so many people bringing flowers and candles to their loved ones. People sitting in silence. And many people cleaning the graves. Washing the headstones, raking up the leaves and even planting and maintaining flowers and greenery around the sites of their loved one.

It was also really sad. Art told us (as we couldn't read any of the signs that were set up throughout the cemetery) that during the war, 1 in 5 Polish people were killed. 20% of the population.  We walked through the military section and saw all the unmarked graves. The cemetery also had special sections for people who died at sea, unborn children and concentration camp victims.

The last night we were in Szczecin was really special. We took an adventurous little road trip to Art's home town to have dinner with his family. We got another history lesson about the area which was hilarious, crazy, cool and at times slightly terrifying. He told us stories about "treasure" hunting with his friends in abandoned bunkers and tunnels that were built by the Germans in the war.

And then we made it to his house where we had THE BEST MEAL since landing in Europe. His mom made Polish Pancakes, cabbage/tomato/cucumber salad, stewed chicken, rice and potatoes.

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I tried one pancake and it was delicious. I asked Maria if she would share the recipe with me so I can make then at home (and gluten free!) and she said YES. I am super stoked to have this recipe in my collection.

 

It was so nice to have a home cooked meal before heading to Sweden. We got lots of hugs, well wishes, clean laundry and I scored a bag of walnuts from the tree in the backyard. Oh and lots of laughs too. So many laughs. And then we were on our way...

I am attempting to make a few video of our adventures so here is the first one. I hope you enjoy Episode 1.

 

Kelsey Andries © 2016