Anyone that has stayed with us at the Itaca knows that we’re a relatively small hostel. Within a day you’ll have met most of the people that work here (and some of their friends) and hopefully traded some stories about your own experiences. It’s one of the things I love the most about this place and it has inspired this (and maybe future) posts. When Cris & Nuria founded the hostel they aimed to give it the same spirit of adventure that they had seen on their travels. To provide a tranquil haven in the city center that people could really feel at home in. In that spirit I would like to draw attention to one particularly inspiring character that I had the pleasure of meeting, who I believe embodies what believe to be the ethos of the Itaca.
Amir Milan came to stay with us entirely by chance in mid-January and made an impression quite quickly his heavily laden bicycle. One rapid-fire round of questioning later and I found out that he’d intentionally arrived in Barcelona with no plan (though a tent just in case) and was directed towards the hostel by people on the street. This was the first of many happy revelations that built a picture of Amir’s character. The most impressive of these revelations was the fact that he had spent the past 5 months cycling all the way from Tehran, Iran and that Barcelona was by no means his final stop. “I want to go around the world” he told me, and I have to say, I believe him!
Like any hopeful adventurer I wanted to dig deeper into what makes him tick in the hope that there would be some secret reservoir I could draw on to start my own cycling expedition. The answers I got were both encouraging and to be expected. Sit down, make a plan (his took two years) and set off. The rest relies on you finding your strength and fortitude. Amir proudly told me that “with every mile he becomes stronger” and after 5000 miles it seems like he’s confidently settled into the lifestyle. However, there was some advice that he imparted to any aspiring cross country cyclists reading this:
- This type of travelling with friends is ok, but it’s easier to travel by yourself
- If you’re living on budget cook for yourself as much as possible and avoid fast food
- It’s best to cycle between 5-15oC (you’ll sweat less which helps your water weight and makes it easier to go further)
- Be cautious but don’t be afraid to accept the kindness of strangers (especially fellow cyclists!)
It was an absolute pleasure to have crossed paths with Amir and we at the Itaca wish him the best of luck on the rest of his journey. When asked where he was headed next he offered a simple “West”, with plans at some point to work his way across the Atlantic and I hope that he makes it!
I’ve learnt a lot from the encounter and this man whose faith, resilience and positive attitude has taken him across Europe. Though he loves his native Iran, he’d dreamed of travelling the world and is making that dream a reality. When I asked him about his favourite places so far he gave me a wonderful sentiment that I’ll take with me as I plan my own expedition.
“Every flower has a different smile”
If you’d like to follow Amir on his trip, please check out the links below to his facebook and instagram and show him some love!