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How Ilker Moved to Athens…by Bike!

Last update: 26 January, 2024  ◦  11 January, 2024 by
Ilker  ◦  6 minutes reading time
Ilker's journey to Athens

Follow Ilker's story as he ends up moving to Athens in the process of taking a journey to self by bike! 🚲

It all started on a rainy summer day in Gent, Belgium. It had been a few weeks since I had quit my old job working in a wine shop. Feeling bored and useless I started looking for a way out of my comfort zone and ended up falling down a rabbit hole watching videos on the internet of people who were travelling long distances with only their bike. So I thought to myself; this is something I can do too! After a few weeks of preparing and gathering everything, I was finally ready. 🌍


It was an impulsive decision, and not without risk; but I did leave my home that day, with my bike packed to the brim with stuff. I wanted to get out of Belgium as quickly as possible, so I took a train to Arlon, and then it was all on me and my legs! 🚴🏻‍♂️

Ilker's bike

My first day was really awful as I had completely exhausted myself trying to get over the hills of Ardennes (yeah, I had underestimated them). I did manage to bike through Luxemburg and I was near a forest in Northern France at this point. Being an inexperienced camper and all, my first night was not the greatest. But things got way better after that and I found a rhythm as well as managed to improve my camping skills. I also felt like I was making progress physically, since going uphill wasn’t ruining my mood anymore. 


I biked until I reached Strasbourg, from there I biked a bit through Germany and eventually decided to head down to Spain. To spare myself some energy, I decided to take a train to Barcelona, where I had no plan at all… So in another impulsive frenzy, I bought a one-way plane ticket to the Canary Islands. A couple of months had passed since I started my trip. 🏝


Spending time on the Islands was amazing and magical, but after a month, I felt like it was time for something new. I felt the urge to work again. So I grabbed my laptop, went to a café near the surfer’s beach in El Médano, and started looking for a job. 💻

After sending my resumé out to dozens of places, I got a call back from Yobbers. After letting them know my intentions and my situation (at this point I was living the nomad’s life on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean), they got to work. They were really friendly, helpful and very interested in my story, which I did appreciate a lot, and trusted them in the process. Some phone calls, emails and cups of coffee later, they had found a couple of job openings for me. I could start within two weeks! 🤩


I was given two choices. I could go to Portugal, or Greece. I chose the latter, since the project was something that really spiked my interest. Two weeks after sending my resumé to Yobbers, I was boarding an airplane to take an eight hour flight to Athens. The cab driver at the airport (George!) who was waiting for me was extremely friendly and helpful. On the way to the hotel he told me many things about Greece, what to do, what mobile provider to use and of course, where you can eat the best souvlaki.


After arriving in Athens, I still had a week before I started the training at my new job, so I took the time to explore the city. You can pretty much walk in any direction for an hour, and you’ll still be in the centre of the city. So that’s what I did. I walked in every and any direction, stopped to grab a coffee or a souvlaki at random places I thought were looking cool, bought some clothes at the busy market streets, and talked to as many locals as possible. Athens, in my opinion, is a mix of great food, lots of cats, amazing graffiti, crazy traffic and very open people. 🐈

Ilker with his new friends

What’s the worst that could happen? Life’s short, so take risks! The best parts of life are always out of your comfort zone!

One week felt like a day, and I was preparing myself mentally for my new job. I was nervous and unsure, because I didn’t have a lot of experience in customer service. As the days in training had passed, I realised this was something I loved to do. We had an amazing trainer, she often referred to us as her children, and she’d definitely go the extra mile for her ‘kids’. If you didn’t feel well, or missed home, she was always there to talk to you, or help you out if needed. The training felt more like a month back at school than anything, which was really fun. I met a bunch of amazing people there from all over the place (Dutch, Belgian Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Norwegian…) 🌎


Compared to my older job I had in Belgium, I had no problem getting out of bed, I was really excited every day to head to work. The atmosphere was good, the company was huge and the people I met were amazing, making every day interesting. It felt less like work and more like a project I was really excited about. They also didn’t force us into weird dress codes, and everyone was allowed to be themselves, which made it easy to adapt to the new working environment. The company’s small restaurant had amazing (and cheap!) food, so life was really budget friendly. 

Ilker exploring Athens

At this point in time, mid-training, I was really worried about finding an apartment, because my days in the hotel provided by the company were coming to an end, and at first I kind of struggled with it; but giving up wasn’t an option. After being amazingly guided by the recruiters at Yobbers, I found myself a place! Hoping that my roommates were cool people, I moved into the new place, and to my delight, made friends with my roommates instantly! 


Having made new friends made it much easier to have a good time in Athens. We’d occasionally hike up the mountain, visit a gaming centre, take Greek classes, argue about which restaurant has the best souvlaki, take every metro available to every corner of Athens,  feed a bunch of street cats or pigeons, walk through the bazaar to buy useless stuff (like seven different sunglasses for every day of the week) or just visit each other’s apartment and play uno! There’s a lot to do in a big city like this, and everyone eventually finds something that they love to do. 🛍

It’s now my third week of working here, and I can tell you, I’m looking forward to work every day. If I could give a tip to anyone who’s hesitating to take the step to work abroad but isn’t sure, I’d say: What’s the worst that could happen? Life’s short, so take risks! The best parts of life are always out of your comfort zone! I would have never thought when I left my house in Belgium with my bike, that I would end up in Athens working for an amazing company four months later! 🤩


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