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?

The BumbleBeast in Hollbrook New Mexico Astro van at rest

L.I.A.V. Tip #42 – Craigslist Rideshare

There’s a new generation of kids who are being inspired by Craigslist to go traveling with strangers using Craigslist rideshare (for those of you who don’t know, that’s in the community section of Craigslist…). You can use and abuse them to help pay your gas as you travel around in your van.

Here’s 3 great reasons to use rideshare:

*half your gas expenses

*break up the monotony of driving

*gain new fans

It’s good to follow a few ground rules or you’ll end up with some rides from hell. We’ve been pretty lucky by using these guidelines:

Don’t pick up people traveling with dogs.

Don’t pick up people who say “I’m willing to pay for all the gas if we can leave immediately”.

Don’t pick up people who ask you to go to a “remote town, it’s probably not on a map”. Or do, but do it at your own risk.

Stop for gas immediately after picking up rideshare so they have to pay up front.

Assume everyone is a criminal. Guilty until proven innocent. Hide your money.

Rideshare dude/chick rides up front in the passenger seat.

Offer to pick up and drop off rideshare so that they feel more comfortable.

Have weird iPod mix of songs including Manson and Necro to entertain rideshare, but also let them know who’s coolest.

Google/Facebook search your potential rideshares.

Abuse your rideshare by taking photos and/or videos.

Drink lots of water and coffee before picking up rideshare so that you are ready to talk for 5 hours straight.

Study psychotherapy. Be ready to analyze your passenger. Ask difficult questions like, did your mom abuse you? Be ready to work through the truth. This can kill about 2 hours of time if you run out of things to talk about.

Here’s a video of our rideshare friend Martin (twitter @eagles10361) who’s headed to Denver. We’ll let him explain!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Saws

When I was in Detroit, Aileen & I got the brilliant idea to go down to the hardware store & play a saw duet.

We settled on a song that was easily recognizable so the hardware store dudes could understand we were making music!

Frentz & Sons Hardware (in Royal Oak) were fantastic! Go visit them sometime. Support local business who support local saw players:

the 2012 Thirty Days Busking Challenge Busking Stats GO!

cross country street performer busking earnings profits for pro busker in midwest indiana ohio detroit tigers michigan football virginia

These dates mark the kick-off of our Kickstarter, and the farewell to our lovely money-well of Alexandria as we started our modern day pioneer trip West. Complete with (freezing-to) death, hunting, river crossings, tire explosions, swindlers, modern day outposts of haven and a lot of nothing, it’s pretty close to amazing that we even made it.

A few admissions.

First, this trip was NOT completed based on busking alone. I wish I could say it was, but that would have been near impossible. No, as luck would have it, we managed to do some re-selling of thrift store items that brought us in an extra $350.

Also, we started the whole adventure with approx $200.

Without this extra money, we would not have made it. That’s a warning would-be-buskers.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t. Perhaps you can. But I would recommend taking a more direct route.


The cold makes people kind of ornery, and it makes the buskers pissy. All of this combined results in non-happy and very-wet days.

I would also recommend you check your tires before leaving. We lost 2. If we had pre-obtained used tires (difference of $100 or so), life would have been a wee bit easier. But some things you just can’t predict.

Or at least you can predict this. If you’re going to busk Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, the Texas Pandhandle then be prepared for long hours, long stretches, lack of people and sometimes hostility.

But happily a few moments of grace.

So yeah, by *ahem* popular demand: the busking stats for October 13th-November 12th:

girl with camera in mirror and glasses shaved head cute bohemian chick

NEW LIVING IN A VAN EPISODE!!!!! EP 8 – Southwest Rest Stop Tour

You can get your thrills RIGHT HERE:

If you’re ever in Amarillo, you should check out this store: B&J’s Guitar and Amps . Dude Korte is the man.

You can study Navajo here: http://www.alphadictionary.com/directory/Languages/North_American_Languages/Navajo/

And if you figure out what Erikay (sp?) is saying, please report back to me. I’ve got more tape to translate.

Living in a Van Tip # 50 – If You Stay in a House, Keep it Clean

As in, leave your friends houses cleaner than you entered if they are generous to give you a night off the road or ask you to house sit.

Even if in the interim time you bring all your stuff in the house and get comfy.

living in a van tip 50 keep your homestay houses clean

A good thing to do is leave little presents for your friends. Oragami, cooked food, maybe a few caricature drawings of their pets. Be creative and make someone smile.

Living in a Van Tip #7 – Put Hot Sauce in Your Beer

Tobasco mixes well. I like chipotle, but if you don’t want a strong flavor the green sauce or the original will do. You can also use sriracha, valentina, packaged hot sauce left over from buying Cincinnati Chilli years ago. We have yet to try Cackalacky hot sauce, but if the manufacturer of Cackalacky sauce would like to send us a sample, we’d be happy to do a promotional video for them!

Living in a Van Tip # 47 – Organize Small Things

Get a box!

It only costs $5 to find this ‘small things’ storage container at a hardware store and, honey, I’m telling you it will save you hours of frustrating search-for-that-one-thing-you-really-need time. It might seem like the glove box or cup holders are a good place for storage, but where are you gonna put your coffee? And it’s too easy to knock change out of those cup containers when you start searching for what’s underneath it; or to crumple up your parking tickets so much you mistake them for trash and throw them away.

With a box like this you will always be able to see where your kazoo/unicorn necklace/finger pick/$2 Canadian coin/naughty dice/piece of duct tape is.

living in a van tip 47 - organize the small things so you don't loose your naughty dice