Tour Take Two

crapbot and east cackalacky in manchester england

Saying goodbye to Number 1, Oldham

Back on the road!

Yeah, yeah, okay, you already guessed…was it the slew of photos and happy smiling faces that greeted your Facebook feed???

C’mon kids! Take a seat at the kitchen table and grab yourself a cup of coffee; we’d like to share our strategy with you.

Mom and Dad have a plan. We want to take advantage of the hard work we did in England and we want to return to the States in style. We want to end our stay in Europe with more busking, and we need to finish all the writing, videos and music for the Kickstarter. This can only mean one thing: tour take two.

So we’ve picked ourself a finish line to cross. Are you ready for this? Our finish line is Copenhagen, July 30th, 2014.

Kids, we’re growing up a little. Y’know, it had to happen. We reigned in our ambitions and tour length to a reasonable amount. To help prevent us from killing each other, and to prevent us from attacking the gypsy on the corner who just took our mother-fucking busking spot again….

Eurostar from England to France

Trains will make us lean, meaning killing machines!

Two months of gallivanting around Europe seems just about perfect, and we know you’ll agree. It gives us enough pressure to get our bums moving, but won’t kill us. Right, did I mention, we’ve planned this whole trip to avoid any death?

This all means we must be sleek jaguar machines. No more hitchhiking around back country France like snails.

A big difference from last year. And I know you’ll miss all the stories of ‘how-we-got-stuck-in-the-middle-of-po-dunk-France,’ and we’ll miss the dash of unknown that comes with getting stuck in the middle of po-dunk France. But we won’t miss getting stuck………………..

Look, there’s still plenty of room for the unknown on this trip, so don’t worry your little hearts.

We’re still only planning a couple of days in advance. And we’re headed to Eastern Europe and Turkey, the lesser travelled, not as wealthy Europe where we could crash and become homeless all over again!

teh wild musician stalks its play

Mobile music setup for better recording.

In the middle we’d like to hit these European hotspots: Gdansk, Kaunus, Krakow, Budapest, Istanbul, Sofia, Romania, the Balkins, Northern Greece, Croatia, Prague, Austria and maybe another pass through Munich.

It’s still quite an adventure. Two months rushing through Europe. We’re feeling pretty damn excited about this one!

And, more importantly, we’ve planned it so there’s extra time for music. Last year that was one thing we missed out on – despite busking long hours, we didn’t really have any time to write or record we were so busy surviving.

One last thing – make no mistake. Our plans for world domination fester on!

That’s it, that’ all we have to say. Get back to work! I know you’re busy.

And watch out for The Cack.

 

 

crapbot in Oxford

Must sow the seeds of robotism around the world.

 

 

 

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England vs America

little shops on a quaint london streetPeople are always asking me, “What’s the difference between herein England and America?”

So I realized I needed to form some stereotypes in order to better represent myself at the bar. And defend England. In a way.

Next time an Englishman asks his English question: “Why would you come here from America? I’d rather be in California! ” I will be able to respond , “Well, yes, but at least you don’t have to show your IDs to cops and it’s acceptable to hang out in the pub all day!.”

Here ya go: An 100% accurate sociological descriptions of life in Northern England as observed by an American gal working in a local pub and shopping at Tesco four times a week. Ta!

England vs America

real ale in a british pub

mmmmm. real ale.

In England, alcoholism doesn’t really exist.

I mean, there’s plenty of people who drink. But are you really going to call your hardworking uncle Steve an alcoholic just because he’s spending every evening from 5 – 7 at the pub? How could you when you’re always there to greet him – that’s just after tea revelry. Still think there’s a problem? Then bring the family down on Sundays, little Lucy and Dave can have juice and crisps and try their luck at the slot machines while uncle Steve and uncle Joe yell at Steve Moyes.

When greeted with the question ‘How are you,’ Americans will over-exaggerate their accomplishments, while the English can be downers.

The Northern greeting: “Hiya, are you okay?” or sometimes just, “you OK?” serves as a rhetorical question to engage friends, family and acquaintances, but you don’t really want to hear the answer. The acceptable answer is something like: “just getting by,” or, “I’m still alive,” and sometimes even, “Having a shit week.” Your friends will nod and understand and buy you a round of drinks.

Don’t say ‘happy,’ ‘excellent,’ or ‘great,’ the Northern Brits will look at you like you’ve just ingested too many cheap drugs from Amsterdam. Or they’ll just think you’re “slow.”

As we all know, this differs from American culture. If your friend says, ‘just getting by,’ you steer clear of that depressed loser.

and who knows what happens when a Northerner greats a Southerner

In America, the customer is always right. In England, the customer is a nob-head who needs to be put in his place.

Want to send back your food? Are you SURE there’s a problem. That looks fine to me, you fucking trouble-making wanker.

Want to return an item? Are you SURE you didn’t use it? That looks like a scratch to me, you careless scam artist.

Sometimes I miss –>walmart<–

police close road to hunt down a cut off penis

English cops and English journalism at their finest

English cops are friendly.

Lost your way? No problem, the cop is the civil servant of your dreams, eager to point you in the right direction lest you accidentally create crime by walking the wrong way. English cops also engage in the community with suicide prevention, taxi services for solo women, hitchhiker relocation, amputated penis hunting, and humour therapy.

You can politely decline to show your ID and all the police can do is berate you: “You mean to tell me two American tourists with large backpacks don’t have their passports on them?” “No, sir. That would be dangerous. One doesn’t want to get robbed, does she?” “Right-o! Quite true. One must be safe.” “It’s ok, officer, let me just write down my full name and address…”

On the more dangerous side, they don’t carry guns.

Vests

All workers that come anywhere close to the road wear vests in England. So do bicyclists and bus drivers, construction workers, postal guys and kids on field trips. Not just vests, ugly, over-sized fluorescent colored vests that identify exactly who they are and what is there business. When I first arrived in England I feared all vested humans, assuming they were some kind of police, security or swat team. Now I understand that they’re just poor lost socialist souls stuck in a state-sponsored job.

Haha, you silly American. It’s safety! You’re too much of a gun-toting barbarian to understand all these safety precautions!

CCTV..

Don’t think it prevents anyone from thieving, but you can’t escape the watchful eye. You are being watched at the grocery store, you are being watched outside your home, you are being watched while you drive, you are being watched as you hit on that cute librarian girl, you are being watched in the porta potty…Big Brother is everywhere!

But then again, he wears a bright orange vest and doesn’t have a gun. So is he really something to fear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cobblestones, bricks and english picks

One Year

It’s been a year since we left the states.

hitchhiking out of reading englandLast year, around this time, we were recovering from the flu while balancing on our European land-legs.

We were equally confused about how to navigate English street signs as we were about how to properly use the fifteen-hundred different types of coins. The British still had a noticeable accent.

I remember what happened – we hadn’t planned how we were going to travel around, for better or worse, so made a quick decision to hitchhike out of London. On day 3 of our tour, we landed in Reading where at 6 pm the wind was so strong and cold that we curled up next to a tree stump to try and keep warm. We practiced a little, but our hands were unresponsively stiff. We hadn’t bought a saw yet.

Neither of us had a proper jacket because we hadn’t thought of that. Our feet were a little sore from walking long miles in converse and dress shoes.

Humps for miles English street signs

That night in Reading we slept behind the parks maintenance building next to 500 ml beer cans and disposed needles. We went to bed when the sun was out to try and stay warm, it must have been around 8 pm. We woke up early in the morning when it started drizzling but we were too tired to find shelter. We just covered ourselves with the sleeping bags and crossed our fingers and managed to sleep in until the dogs found us and started jumping all over our sleeping bags.

It rains a lot in England but, as we learned that night, it doesn’t really pour. Just drips and drizzles all through the morning. It’s cold, no it’s freezing, but you can sort of ignore it if you cover yourself, close your eyes and daydream about your next academy award.

It’s not pleasant – it’s like a migraine headache. You keep turning from side to side, hoping that if you arrange your body just right it’ll all go away.

robot in cambridge tunnelThat’s what England was like last April.

I couldn’t tell you what it’s doing now. Now I’m living in a house and so I can’t be bothered to wake up at 6 am just because it’s raining! We’ve come a long way…

Does that story sound crazy to you? It does to me … I’d almost forgot about it all, but out on a walk this evening I felt those frozen bites on my skin again and I remembered…

Bristol, where I finally had to abandon my down sleeping bag around 9 am because it was irreversibly wet.

Birmingham, where we woke up in a field next to the elementary school bus stop (and under rain, always under rain).

Glasgow where we fearlessly played under an overhang while small pools of water ran down the edges of our guitar case.

east cackalacky with crudbot in washington d.c.Yup, crazy! 

This year, we’ll start tour in May. Closer to dry.

We won’t be doing anymore sleeping outside without a tent. We won’t be expecting too much out of England. We’ll bring proper coats. We’ll start out with all our equipment.

We will be conquering all of Europe. We can’t promise more than that – we know it would be ridiculous. But we can conquer all of Europe. This tour is loosely plotted in a loop: through Paris, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Italy, and last but not least, the Netherlands.

 

We start tour again May 20th…watch out!!!!!!

Wintering in England

Q: What’s Wintering for Five Months in Manchester Like?

A: You’ve been in Manchester 5 months?

 

manchester uk sunset oldham

and that’s a bit what it looks like

Yup, mmhmm. Seems like freaking ages, right? I can’t tell if time just skipped a few songs or my memory of the past months is all white noise but a lot’s happened.

This is just a brief update.

we've got housemates in oldham

we’ve got housemates!

We went from sleeping in a tent to sleeping in a house

In only a few weeks, although we did sleep in our sleeping bags in an unfurnished room for months after that. But hey, when the rain’s coming down every freakin’ day you bet you’re gonna want a roof.

Warning : watch out for Northern English Time – as an American it’ll make you anxious. Nobody’s in a hurry to rent out a place, even if it means making money, and I had countless no-show landlords when searching for a place. YOU have to track them down and insist on an early date even if the place has been up for months!

 

cobblestones, bricks and english picksWe found some alternative ways to make money in the winter months

Busking Manchester was pretty decent in November and December because they have a Christmas Market which drew a lot of tourists and locals. The markets were pretty cool, and we could make our rent happen, but we wanted a little bit of extra.

Charmonix started working at a local pub. And Tom delved into the world of Elance to get his feet wet on programming. This was also to fulfill the stereotype insisted upon by countless people who observed us busking and asked, “Do you do this for a living or are you actually programmers?”

frydays fish and chips shop lees england

mmmm fish and chips can be tasty

We started eating battered fish 2 times a week

Tesco Cod beats Asda Halibut, Plaice is the best. Any questions?

We played some really rocking paid gigs

Only a couple – but it’s ego boosting to get offered a paid gig anywhere in the world. Based on my limited anecdotal evidence I would say England treats their musicians a tad better. Kudos to the Nelson Tavern in Stockport and the Bank Top Tavern in Oldham, if you’re ever in the Manchester area check these places out.

east cackalacky tricks

to the future!

We came to the decision that we absolutely need to finish this tour, all the way to Asia and then back to the states

You bet it’s gonna happen. But not until it’s actually warm anywhere because last April was a rainy hell. And not until we also become computer programmers so we can eat foie gras and stay in hostels every now and again.

Reflections on Busking Western Europe (part 3)

Let’s do a little more talking about this summer, shall we?

englishmoney

As you read in the first post, we learned a lot about what it means to travel poor in a foreign country including get used to eating bread and cheese and learn how to collect bottles. Right, that’s covered.

We also learned a lot about what it means to busk Europe. And that is…

…busking Europe is very similar to busking the United States.

waterfallzaragozaEurope does have certain advantages: the cities are closer together, so there are more viable busking options in a shorter distance. Going on tour is a quicker operation.

But the same challenges apply: cities where busking is illegal or frowned upon and euros stretched thin due to competition.

Tom Senkus in the London UndergroundChallenge 1: Where to play

We could easily make this a formula. Out of 12 pounts…

Start with location:  Three points for a coastal/port town.

One point if town has ‘traditional’ architecture and historic downtown.

Another point if it’s possible to busk on the historic downtown streets.

Add a point if busking is legal.

Add a point if city is between 70,000 and 400,000 people.

Subtract two points if you find more than one gypsy in downtown area.

Add two points if town has been recommended by other buskers and travelers.

Add a point if downtown has multiple pedestrian-only streets.

Add a point for double-decker tour bus.

Add a point if city is/is near to wealthy metropolitan area.

For example…

There’s a reasonrain, rain go away you're never going to stop anyway! San Sebastian, La Rochelle and Lubeck were all really great places to play. Coastal port towns, hassle-free busking, larger than 70,000 but smaller than 400,000. Mostly gypsy free. Recommended by other buskers. Filled with tourists on tour buses. Near to wealthy metropolitan areas. Historic downtowns in doll-house size that funnel visitors by the music.

Then there are places like Manchester (not coastal, not recommended, no tour buses, lots of gypsies) where you can work all day and do OK, but you wouldn’t seek it out to make your fortune.

And then there are places like Mataro. Don’t go, you’ll just get shut down anyway.

Even within a town it takes some trial and error to find the right place to play. Here’s one where other buskers are not always right: what works for them may not work for you!  We always avoided the most popular spots, i.e. Glasgow’s Buchannan street, Covent Gardens (London), Paris in general, Spitalarstrasse in Hamburg. In order to really thrive in these places you have to have to have good amplification. And some talent.

IMG_20131006_131911Challenge 2: A Creative Angle to Defeat the Competition

In Europe you’re not likely to find a classic rock playing guitarist on every corner, so my guess is that you could easily show up with your classic and indie rock repertoire and impress.

Possibly, maybe, we’ve heard. But then again, that’s not our angle.

On the other hand, there’s at least two accordionists per city block so best to just throw that instrument into the river.

Leave the Django at home. And if for some reason you were tempted to play Autumn Leaves only do it as a bad-ass punk cover: this has got to be the number one over-busked song in Europe.

Creative busking always wins. Costumes, novelty instruments, odd but palatable songs, children’s acts. Put on a good show and people will love you.

Or say fuck it all and become a “bubbler.” Minimal set-up, maximum crowd interaction, and all you have to do is wave your arms around. Who doesn’t love bubbles?!?!?!?!

downtown rostock buskers

Downtown Rostock

Challenge 3: Icky City Laws

Shockingly (and maddeningly) busking is not legal in all European towns! Legality is not always easy to learn ahead of time, either. You have to trust word-of-mouth busker warnings and outdated musician blogs so every time you approach a new place you could be taking a risk.

Luckily, it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, especially if you’re foreign. The risk is worth it on the chance that the cops won’t give a shit.

We never once were fined/jailed or had our instruments confiscated. We were warned, we were ID’d and we moved on, but it’s the same as in America, cops have bigger problems like drugs and crime and stupid tourists. We just follow the ‘always apologize humbly’ to a police officer motto. And if you can, add some bubbles to ease the tension.

campbazelFlourishing

Busking is a lifestyle as well as a career.

No, I don’t mean that we’re destined to live out or days digging through trash and jamming on three-stringed guitars.

We busk in order to travel and we travel in order to busk and underneath all of this is the gleeful feeling that we are actually making money off of playing music.

It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible!

It’s not easy. Before we left we had this misconception that it would be easier than America. Why? Who knows. You can’t ever get away from competition, mistrust, local government bans, bad weather, and that unmentionable busker flaw that prevents us from getting ahead.

So fuck easy, enjoy hardship. Stimulate your artist neurons. Force yourself to learn that song so well you end up re-harmonizing it because you got bored of playing the same chords every day for three months.

Many have gone on extravagant busking tours before, many will do again despite all the warnings that say: you’re going to run out of money and fail and get stuck or deported.

And that’s exactly what happened to us!

It was so worth it.

We got to fail spectacularly and plan to do so again. And again. And again. Until one day failing becomes the new success.

Reflections on Busking Western Europe (part 2)

This was Western Europe

IMG_20130726_171345Four countries, 56 cities, 4 months of traveling.

We walked out of Tarragona and found a pristine Mediterranean beach to sleep on in the middle of the night. We hitchhiked from Hamburg to Brussels in 12 hours. We were tipped everything from euros, to zlotys to American dollars to 11% Belgian beer to weed to heroin (didn’t accept it though) to gypsy flowers to guitar accouterments to songs to a-place-to-sleep. The gypsies in Montpellier loved us so much they tipped us their pennies; the gypsies in Munich hated us so much they threatened to call the cops on us for not having a permit.

We smoked hash with a group of homeless Moors in Berck-sur-Mer and attracted Polish immigrants practicing in a Nuremberg park. We played an impromptu Brasserie gig for a music-loving family in Gace. We walked 10 miles down a soggy English dual-carriageway because we missed an earlier on ramp. We sang football fight songs in the narrow streets of Nantes and ‘fume la pipa’ with college students in Montpellier. We ate mashed potato casserole with our busking alter-egos, the Ready for Buskers, in Chamonix, France. We ate fried eel on the Baltic Sea and lots and lots of cheap smoked salmon from the French Carrefour grocery store.

We attempted to speak German via Google translate while riding in the car with a Polish transplant. We got lost in the hilly residential neighborhood of Rouen and walked for hours in the rain, before sleeping in the bum camp next to the train station.

We got wasted on tips of 11% Belgian beer in Brussels, and had to sleep it off in a park because the international train station was closed all night long. We weathered out an overnight downpour behind a Lidl in Dieppe, then spent the entire morning drying out our gear over a cup of €1.50  espresso.

We made new friends. We were rescued from a missed train by a pretty college girl in Abbeville, who took us to her story-book French house and made us a full breakfast (which she didn’t eat because she’s French).  We were rewarded with 4 days of rest, rave and relaxation by a charming astrophysics student from Hamburg. We were treated to mint tea and cafe entertainment by an ex-busker from Bordeaux. We went skinny dipping in Munich’s English Garden with a German lesbian couple; we went skinny dipping in Schwerin with an older German couple who grew their own vegetables. We

We busked for an hour in Gloucester and made £4. We busked for 2 hours in Lubeck and made €120.We dumped our bag of change out in the Kebab shop and let the shop owners convert it to paper money, feeling too rich to care whether or not they skimmed some off the top. We picked pennies up off the ground.

We were shut down by the cops in Blackpool, Sitges, Vilanova, Barcelona, Mataro, Orange, Strasbourg, Rostock, Lubeck, Brussels. We got paid off to stop busking in Pamplona and Montepellier.

We found a 50 euro note on the Reaperban, just when we were starting to lose hope. We collected cans in Stuttgart for the bottle deposit just to make our lunches a little bit cheaper.

We spent a god-awful amount of time drinking Starbucks coffee.

We got to see Big Ben and that one arch in Barcelona and some really old crooked buildings in Rouen and Munich’s famous Glockenspiel and all of Lubeck, which looked like it belonged in a Disney movie. And probably some tourist crap we didn’t even know what we were looking at. But we did like the scenery. We did like waking up in the parks an walking the narrow cobblestone streets of Europe. And those beautiful, carefully stocked shelves of English mega-grocery stores bring tears to our eyes.

We saw a lot of grade A busking acts. We saw a lot of crap, too. Like the gypsy woman in Munich who played the chorus of Autumn Leaves on repeat all day long.

Yup. That about sums it out. In a guitar-nut shell.

But, damn. That’s a mouthful! All that and more, we made happen. All because we traveled poor. All accomplished because we were busking our way around, because we exposed ourselves on the streets and boldly walked along the freeway. We weren’t always monetarily successful but we did get foods, rides, shelter advice and a home-bum or two who offered eternal and undying friendship.

Because I think most people were impressed. We’re impressed with ourselves.

Reflections on Busking Western Europe Part I

Reflections on Busking Western Europe (Part 1 of 3)

crapbot and crapette

The summer’s newest addition: Crapette

I’ve been meaning to write a reflection of this summer’s busking adventure.

Meaning to, but I’ve had a hard time getting it done.

Do I talk about all the highlights? Is the daily grind important enough to reiterate? If I didn’t like a certain spot, can I confess this? How do I include the moments of pain without eliciting pity or disdain? How do I admit to not liking certain parts of the summer, without leading you to think I don’t like busking? Can one be jaded and naïve at the same time?

It’s easy to get stuck on the minutia of how we lived and that can be tedious.

Triple threat hitchhiking sign

lots of hitchhiking

But the adventure’s in the details. All those hours of planning, scheming, walking, traveling, hitchhiking, riding buses, busking 2-4 and 5-7 or sometimes less, or sometimes more, looking for a place to sleep, meeting new people, attempting to talk a foreign language, followed by more planning, scheming, walking, a little rehearsing, busking. In a nutshell, that was our trip.

Y’know, and some unmentionable pleasures.

Q: Did we want fame and fortune and everything that goes with it?

A: Are we the champions yet?

It’s a hard life that busking. If you want to earn your keep you work it like a job. And in Europe, where we didn’t know how to find resources if we were down and out, where we couldn’t work any side hustles (such as selling junk on Ebay), where we didn’t have our own van to crash in or hide in when we needed to get away from the public eye, it got to be pretty high stress.

But oh it can be a thrill to live that way! Maybe we’re disaster divas, but I feel giddy about what we did. 

tom with tom somewhere on the road

Big pack and Tom’s double

Our planned tour was insane ambitious, and only possible to continue if we made more cash. Unfortunately we set ourselves up to look amateurish, and hence were treated like amateurs, even if it was the royal treatment for amateurs. Let me just say, a sure way to sabotage busking success is hanging around town all day with big ass backpacker packs and eating bread and cheese on the sidewalk.

But oh it can be a thrill to live that way!

We certainly can’t pretend that we didn’t plan to sleep on the side of the freeway or dry off in a coffee shop after walking through the rain.

We can’t even say that we weren’t curious to see what would happen if our gear broke down or our laptop got stolen, because it breaks up the monotony of all that work.

But hey, I want to be candid about some of the downsides of this lifestyle. Because I need to apologize to you for not getting all the Kickstarter rewards out on time. We need to apologize to ourselves for not networking extensively in Europe or creating more online buzz for the tour we embarked on. It was supposed to be East Cack Busks the World, not East Cack Busks Western Europe and then gets stuck in England!

And all that I do regret.

I’ve been expecting some sort of backlash from it all, but nothing. So I’ll preempt. I’ll try to explain.

But what can I say to explain it that doesn’t sound like an excuse?

camping in leipzig

Camping in Leipzig

I can point out the video camera breaking on the way to Chamonix. But the truth is there was a whole couple months of tour before this happened.

Of course, I can blame the endless rain our first month of tour. But the truth is we should have been better prepared.

Sure, I could easily gripe about all the hours we spent hitchhiking. But truthfully, we didn’t have to travel that much.

I do wish we started with more resources. And it’s awful to have lost all the photos, videos and musings with our fancy laptop.

(Just so you know, we do plan to get music, writings and video out to you by summer. But I’ll leave that for another post…)

But the summer wasn’t all about loss and hardship.

We kept ourselves alive and thriving on a busking income! We made a complete loop around Western Europe! We got back into England with only 60£ in our pocket!

And we gained a hell of a lot of stories.

The best stories happen when you’re down and out and rise above.

Oh the stories we have!

(Stay tuned for part II)

 

Week 18 ::: England

And here’s the final tally:

east cackalacky busks the world

East Cack map

Six countries and 56 cities in four months of traveling.

Not bad, eh? But now we have to head back to England. And we’re not exactly sure what we’ll do for three months of Shengen-zone exile.

Last time England didn’t treat us so well. Is it time to look for some side-hustles so we can sustain ourselves?

crapbot lille france

Questionable bot

But we made up our minds. We dump Crudbot the (???), the saw, the bow, all East Cack paraphernalia, the excess beer we wanted to smuggle in. We cover all our bases.

And, yeah, we get through just fine. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling it’s to always be polite and pretend you’re a college student.

In London, we get a heroes welcome from our friends.

And on the 18th week, The Cack rests.

Week 17 in Review ::: UP UP UP and Down

Deutschland 013

Fun & sun and more hip parks in Germany

Monday August 5th

Ready for busking! ANOTHER BEST BUSKING SPOT OF EUROPE AWARD GOES TO ::: HAMBURG! Armed with new knowledge about this city from our weekend hanging with friends, we head down to the Sternschanze subway stop and give a kick ass show. It doesn’t hurt that the tunnel amplifies every pluck of the guitar and pling of the saw. Good times!

zigaretten dispenser Hamburg

Luxuries in Hamburg

Tuesday August 6th

Here’s another tip for busking Hamburg: Altona has a wee-little downtown with lots of traffic…of course, it’s not exactly legal to play music there, but, you know, you might have a chance before you deal with that whole legality thing…and the people in Altona are super friendly.

Wednesday August 7th

By the end of the day, we’ve got laptop money! We bounce from Sternschanze to Altona to Sternschanze to Altona. We’re selling CDs like diamonds and having a fun time. Plus, we finally figured out a good way to get rid of our backpacks: um, put them in the train station lockers. Yup, shoulda done that a long time ago.

russian keys and american laptop

New machine

Thursday August 8th

The last few weeks we’ve hit peak. But the end is in sight: do we risk overstaying our visa to keep on in this busker paradise, or do we be good int’l travelers and high tail it back to England to avoid any consequences?

Laptop in hand to help us research, we opt for the later. AND we buy tickets from France to London, because we can’t have the English thinking we’re broke! So our next goal is to get down to Lille, France…

autostop saw

Autostop saw

Friday August 9th

….which means a full day of hitchhiking! That’s autostop to you, Euro speakers. From Hamburg all the way down to Brussels in a quick tap of the tambourine. And Brussels: well as one Germany said, it’s like France but dirtier. But, oh heaven that Belgian beer. Brussel-ites know what a good thing they have and don’t hesitate to get us hopped up on 11% Trappist tastiness as we make our music on the crazy party streets.

duvel beer drinking backpackers in belgium

A party’s going on in Brussels

Saturday August 10th

A bit on busking Brussels: the main area is all permit-only, and since we’ve arrived on a Saturday there’s no hope of getting one and the cops do take notice. So we’re stuck on the loud main drags with (luckily) a mild amount of success. And at night…um, oops, don’t ever leave your baggage in the train station overnight. Apparently they shut down after midnight! We end up snoozing in a park until the tran station opens and we can grab our gear (once again, thank god for Belgian beer!)


Sunday August 11th

Lille street signs

Happy or sad with Lille?

Two days before our bus leaves: must get to Lille. Lille is: quiet. The most ghetto French Mcdo’s I’ve ever seen, and a bunch of gypsy competition. What do we think? Other than that, it’s an anything-goes kind of busking city, there don’t seem to be any laws and we don’t have trouble with the local businesses. But it’s also France, which means less tips than Germany. An English guy stops us to orate on the benefits of France vs. England, but he doesn’t tip. A sign of the future?

Week 16 in Review ::: And Finally, the Payoff

And finally, the Payoff …

hitchhiking to hamburg with snail

Hitchhiking to Hamburg

Monday July 29th

Holy crap, is it almost August? Where has the time gone ?!?!

In the almost 3 months we’ve been in Europe we’ve made it from the English channel to the Mediterranean Sea and today we hit a Northern point: The Baltic Sea. Congratulations, that’s a lotta hitchhiking!

Tuesday July 30th

Lubeck is THE SINGLE BEST PLACE FOR BUSKING WE HAVE EVER BEEN IN OUR LIVES! We make a
whopping 60 Euros in only a half hour of playing. WAHOOOOOOO!!!!!!
We barely have to work and we have 160 Euros by the end of the day. It’s Provincetown
take two – no, it’s easier than Provincetown because there’s a whole lot less
competition. This laptop thing is completely possible now! We’re SO CLOSE. Did I mention that Lubeck rocks ?!

tank speed Lubeck Germany

Observe tank speed

Wednesday July

More of that ol’ busking, we coast on easy all day, playing half hour sets at a time
and really enjoying the hell out of this entertainment stuff. The best busking is
always the one where you’re making money because money is a physical vote. When you hear that coin drop in your box you feel appreciated enough to want to continue.
And you try harder too! You banter with the audience, you smile more, you take a few
creative risks, you jump around, you get them involved. And that’s a good show!

Thursday August 1

Lubeck can’t last forever, and we seem to have worn out our welcome. One set
and we’re shut down for ‘harassing’ cafe customers. It’s perfectly legal to busk, the cops inform us, for a half-hour at a time before you have to move. Well, it’s a tiny town and we figure, maybe we should just keep moving on. Hamburg’s only a quick ride away, after all.

mmm sex shop in Hamburg

Daytime in the Reeperban

We arrive in Hamburg and head straight to the Reeperbahn to bask in it’s debauchery. Well, it seems pretty tame during the day. At night it’s a different story, prostitutes mix in with the late-night revelers. But it’s completely unbuskable. One of the loudest places ever. We try, but defeated we get drunk in a park and pass out in a cemetery.

Friday Aug 2

In the morning we wake up in the graveyard when the groundskeepers come to do upkeep.
Crankily we head towards downtown, depressed at our failure on the Reeperbahn.
But the tides turn: as we’re debating our options on the steps of an urban theater, a young German kid
turns around and offers us a solution. “You’re looking for a McDonalds and there’s one
right across from my house. You come over and you can take a shower and then if you
still want to use the internet you can go to McDonalds.” How can we say no? Lennart’s
offer is a welcome relief and one day turns into four…

hanging in Hamburg with friends

after-rave breakfast with Lennart and co

Saturday Aug 3

As in Friday turns into Saturday as we head off to an overnight rave, and get to explore the very watery canals of Hamburg. Cool scene: outdoor party along the canal, small intimate and people are really having a good time. It’s dancing time for the Cackalackies!

Sunday August 4th

Oh Hamburg, what was it we were here to do? Oh, right. Busk. But I don’t think we’re ready yet. Just one more night of fun in the Sternshanze…