Imagine if you spent every day of your job outside, meeting new people and showing them the insanely beautiful part of the world you live in. Tomasz Koliński, a hiking and cycling tour guide and part-time amateur adventurer, doesn’t need to imagine – he gets to live it every day.
Based in Spain’s criminally goodlooking San Sebastian, in the Basque Country, Tomasz (originally from Poland) has been running his day tours with Urban Adventures for close to five years. He also finds time to run marathons, triathlons and has even collected a few medals along the way.
For Tomasz, adventure isn’t something reserved for the weekend. It’s something he embraces every single day.
Tomasz! How did you wind up working in such an adventurous job? Had you worked in a similar area before?
I used to work for Intrepid Travel, which is linked to Urban Adventures. After a couple of years working as a leader, I decided to write to Urban Adventures and tell them about my hiking and cycling project in San Sebastian, and they agreed for me to join the team.
What does your job entail on a daily basis?
This season is a moment of change for me – I’m trying to combine a more administrative role with the guiding part. The tours we offer are not just walking tours but they reflect my adventurous personality, even if the level of what "adventurous" means may change from person to person.
For example, I have hiked our St. James Way Adventure hundreds of times, and it may seem to me that the trail is no longer an adventure, but, in fact, each tour is an adventure because I get to do it with new people every time. Once I had a person that was so quick I almost had to run after him, and another time I had a person with health problems with no medication for three days. So I had to find a solution to both extreme situations and ensure the tour remained fun.
What do you think is so special about San Sebastian as an adventure destination?
When I came to San Sebastian, I was amazed with the amount of people practicing sport. I found out later on that about 70% of the population practices sport regularly.
On top of that, the traveller coming here will realise that both the mountain and the sea are together. One day you can surf, swim or kayak in the ocean, and the next day you can go to a hike, bike ride or run in the mountain paths. Everything is close to the city and surrounded by this beautiful environment.
What's your favourite thing about your job?
The best thing is seeing people sharing the same values as I do. So when I go running, hiking or cycling with a traveller I see that my job gives them joy and happiness, no matter what our background is. Adventure helps bring us together.
Do you get up to much in the way of adventure in your spare time?
My background is in running - I used to train half professionally when I lived in Poland, even getting some medals, which I am very proud of. So in my spare time I focus mainly on running.
Recently I discovered long distance running and I have fallen in love with training in the mountains and the Behobia. It’s a San Sebastian race, where about 30.000 people run every year.
I also love triathlons – I’ve already attempted one. I definitely enjoyed it more than a marathon…at least I could still feel my legs at the end of it!
What, in your mind, is the definition of adventure? Is it possible to have adventures in everyday life?
Adventure in everyday life is that you do at least one thing a day that you are afraid of. I guess it's possible to have it, but probably not in all periods of one's life. For me adventure is not jumping everyday on bungee, but fighting with our fears and facing them.
Outside of work, what's the best adventure you've ever embarked on?
At the moment, my biggest adventure is my first daughter, who will be born in August. I feel as if I’m riding a bike without using my hands.
Do you have any advice for those who might want to get into more adventurous jobs themselves?
People should believe in what they are up to, believe in themselves and in what they believe. Fear may block us, but we can turn those blocking factors in stimulus for a change.
Explore San Sebastian with Tomasz on an Urban Adventure.