Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Brendan’s love of travel, like Tim’s, began at an early age. He was very fortunate to have travelled as a child on many occasions. From a large family, he spent many of his childhood summers either in the Gaeltacht in the West of Ireland or visiting family in the USA, England and Greece. He spent time in Ciudad Real in Spain in 2008 as part of a cultural exchange and also lived in Santiago, Chile in 2010, returning to Dublin many times in between. However, it was in the Spanish city of Córdoba that the seeds for their epic journey took root.
Why is Córdoba special?
Having studied Spanish and Geography at university, Brendan combined his love of both subjects when he took up a teaching post at a school in the Andalusian city of Cordoba in 2014. It was also here that he discovered flamenco, although most of the Flamencos Extranjeros will admit that they have not yet quite mastered the art of the dance! Who are the Flamencos Extranjeros? Check them out here. There are so many things that make Cordoba special, from the beautiful mosque and patios to famous Cordoban dishes such as “Flamenquín” and “Salmorejo” (the latter pictured above). Córdoba is the city where old traditions such as bullfighting thrive and flourish and is where great Spanish, Roman and Arab cultures become one. If all roads lead from Rome, all roads lead to Córdoba!
Córdoba is also the city where many great friends from all over the world were made. Spain itself was not new this time around, as he had lived there before and studied the language and this helped him integrate into life in this historic city. It is thanks to Córdoba that he has developed a greater appreciation, knowledge and love of geography and history and although he made the decision to return to Dublin after three wonderful years, it was not an easy choice.
As the time to leave Córdoba approached, he realised how much he would miss the stability of his life there. Leaving good weather and a stable income behind was a slow and difficult process. Enormous rents in Dublin city coupled with uncertainty about securing a new job were enough to catch him off balance and he found himself looking for something definite to plan for. Tim had been planning a trip to Rotterdam since early in the year and from here they hatched a plan for an exciting new adventure. They shared ideas on the route and cycled to Málaga, Morón de la Frontera amongst other places to get some training under their belt. Having completed several stages of the Camino de Santiago in the north of the country, cycling offered them both a different challenge and Brendan decided to use this trip to help raise funds for number of important organisations.
An alternative route.
Having discovered the work of SB Overseas whilst living in Córdoba, Brendan also spent much time researching the European refugee crisis and communicating with those working with SB in Belgium and Lebanon. One of these was of course his sister! He met Soutien Belge CEO Louma Albik and project manager Michael Mc Govern in Brussels and they shared much about the rewards and challenges in working for the organisation.
As preparations for this trip began in late January 2017, planning this journey was to become the beginning of something new. Both Tim and Brendan envisaged the cycle as a “time out” to figure out what might come next.
So have those 96 days on the road provided all the answers?
What this trip has provided us with more than anything, though, is perspective.
To see us cross the English-Irish border, click here! Now that we are home, we are still uncertain as to what the future may hold… We owe a great deal of gratitude to all our colleagues and friends and those in Córdoba who have supported us along the way.
Long bike trips are on hold for a little while!
Here’s one for the road:
Onto the saddle
There she goes
Into the wilderness
Where? Who knows.
The road is wide
The horizon is far
But it’s quite close
from where we are
It’s a brand new day
We’ll start again
to find our way.
“Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin”