‘I make my money by talking’

Brian Spoorendonk’s life story is like a movie. He grew up in IJsselmonde, had a good job at Erasmus MC and a nice house on Noordereiland. Nevertheless, he decided to change course and he moved to Poland. Now he organizes cycling tours for tourists in Krakow. Together with his girlfriend, whom he met during such a tour.

Brian was born into what he calls a ‘not so prosperous family’ in the south of Rotterdam. He went to work with ICT for a better future. “I started at Erasmus MC when I was nineteen and my first salary was more than we would normally have to live on with the whole family.” In this way he was able to support his family financially and he soon bought his own apartment on Noordereiland.

Read more under the picture >

Brian on the Delightful Beer Tour in Krakow.

Earn money by talking

The work behind the computer just didn’t suit him. “It didn’t make me happy, but the people around me did. I actually chatted all day.” Because he liked the conviviality the most, he started organizing things besides his work, such as group outings and beer tastings. “That way I could make money by talking.”

During this time, Brian also decides that he wants to see more of the world. “I’ve traveled around South Africa, Sri Lanka, Peru and along the American West Coast.” These distant destinations made him realize that Europe is quite special. “When I got to Prague, I thought, ‘This is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen.’ It’s like walking through a living Disneyland.”

Read more under the picture >

Dennis Levi, Nikki van Winkel and Brian Spoorendonk with their bikes.

Guide on the bike

He liked Prague so much that he moved there. For two years he gave bicycle tours for tourists through the historic city. There was a very nice lady on one of his trips. Nikki van Winkel from Lierop fell in love with Prague and not much later with Brian. She also started as a tour guide for the same company, and soon they were living together. Brian had only just made a deal to start a bike tour company in Krakow.

“From Prague you have cheap trains back to Krakow. If I wanted a change of scenery, I would like to go there. I loved Prague, but felt even more at home in Krakow. I like the atmosphere and life here much more. And the city is just as beautiful with many historic buildings.” His girlfriend was just not immediately satisfied with Poland as a new homeland. “Fortunately, she quickly discovered that Polish people are very friendly and helpful.”

learn Polish history

What do you need to give tours through Krakow like two Dutchmen? Cycling and knowledge of Polish history. They bought thirty bikes and went to college together like crazy. “We have read many books, watched documentaries and films. Every day we delved into Poland’s history”, says Brian. “Poland has lost many wars, yet it is a proud people. It feels like a Feyenoord player: not winning very often, but being proud. I think that’s interesting!”

But like every entrepreneurial story in the last two years, the pandemic threw a wrench in the works. Two weeks before Brian and Nikki were to start, the country went into lockdown. “I sold my apartment on Noordereiland because cycling is my passion and my baby. I love life here so much, I won’t give it up. Due to the current housing market, I have made enough profit. With this buffer, we can survive in Krakow.”

Read more under the picture >

Brian and Nikki with their Tripadviser Award

The world’s best bike ride

Fortunately, there were also periods with less corona and therefore more tourists in Poland. “During these busy times, we both gave several tours a day, seven days a week. That way we could build something. A few months ago we hired two more guides. Only then did the war start, so now we live off the money from my apartment again.” Although his business has had a difficult start, the first recognition has already been received: “We have been named ‘World’s Best Bike Tour 2022’ by TripAdvisor. I am proud of this rating!”

Krakow vs. Rotterdam

When Brian talks about Krakow, he likes to make comparisons with Rotterdam. “The city has a bit of the atmosphere from historic Delfshaven. All the buildings are old, but it is very relaxed. The former Jewish quarter looks a bit like Katendrecht. There are all kinds of cozy restaurants and bars with the atmosphere of Fenix ​​​​Food Factory or THOMS. The former Jewish ghetto is now forthcoming. Here you will find several hip bars and a lot of new construction, just like Kop van Zuid.”

In any case, it will cost you much less to stay in all these great catering establishments than in Rotterdam. “It’s insanely cheap,” says Brian. “You spend about eleven euros for a dinner including a drink. A cup of coffee comes closer to Dutch prices, so it’s better to drink beer or vodka here!” Another reason why Rotterdammers love Krakow is the two football clubs. “It especially appeals to Feyenoord fans. The teams here have a rivalry like Ajax and Feyenoord and the stadiums are right across from each other.”

Read more under the picture >

Brian and Nikki at the Great Market Square in Krakow.

Future

Although his company My Krakau Tours has had a rough start, Brian is excited about the future. “I wan’t one happy ending. It is sad now because there is a lot of fear about the war in Ukraine. There are even fewer tourists than right after corona, while you don’t notice the war here.” Still, his passion and courage help to remain positive. “In principle, I have the entire Dutch market, and in normal times around 100,000 come Dutch to Krakow a year. We should be very busy with that!”

With 55 bikes now, Brian, Nikki and their team are ready to organize around four rides a day, seven days a week. Mainly by bike, because ‘everything is flat and paved’. At least it won’t be due to his enthusiasm. To earn my money by speaking: that is where my interest lies!”

We are looking for more cool stories from Rotterdammers abroad. Are you or do you know someone who has emigrated and is living a dream in a new home country? Send us an email and we will contact you.

Leave a Comment