After 5 weeks on the road the busking tour has finally come to an end. It’s been great fun, if a little trying at times, but I’m definitely glad we did it!
We spent our last few days in Amsterdam, where we experienced some terrible weather (extremely wet and windy), but we were able to meet up with our friends Bob and Becky (hi guys!). We had one sunny day there, which happened to be a Friday, which led to some fairly profitable busking, and made up (a little bit) for being cold and wet for the last couple of days. Then on Saturday we made the trek to the unpronouncable port of IJmuiden to board the boat for our ferry crossing. Which turned out to be a mini cruise. Not the best 17 hours of my life, all things considered, but we were on the way back to England, and the prospect of not having to carry such a ridiculous amount of stuff around any more. Yay!
So now that we’re just about recovered we’re in a fit state to look back over the last 5 weeks.
Total nights: 37
Nights spent couch surfing: 26
Total of couch surfing hosts: 12
Nights we paid for accomodation: 11 (including the overnight ferry…blergh)
Countries visited: 4
Towns visited: 14
Towns busked: 13 (missed Ghent due to inclement weather)
Trains taken: +/- 25
And now a round-up of some of the things we have either learned or proved through busking:
- The hardest thing about busking is finding a good pitch (place to play).
- The second hardest thing about busking is hauling your gear around whilst looking for a good pitch.
- Smaller, more out of the way places (typically thought of as “boring” towns) make for the best busking.
- Busking in tourist trap towns is generally not much fun and not as lucrative as one might imagine, unless you are doing something cliched.
- Speaking of cliched, the smelliest (and least imaginative) living statues I have ever seen were in Amsterdam. I don’t think they were doing very well.
- Many people, especially tourists, feel the need to photograph and/or film buskers. Ok, it’s a sign of appreciation (although money is better), but what do they do with them?!
- Most tourists don’t tip. Even if they take your photograph.
- Some tourists don’t even look at you while they’re taking your photograph. That’s pretty dumb.
- This one’s perhaps obvious, but people are more generous, and will listen for longer on sunny days than overcast ones.
- Busking in the late afternoon (around happy hour) is usually more productive than around noon.
- It’s usually not worth asking if it’s ok to play, especially in a competitive busking town. People will say no, but if you just play, they might be glad to have a good busker outside.
- As long as you sound good, you don’t need a permit to play, even if you are supposed to have one. In Belgium, at least. (Don’t try this on the London Underground or Paris Metro!)
- The biggest tips (and most paper money) come from locals.
- There are gypsies (with or without accordions) everywhere. Except Bruges.
- Inhibitions are socially learned: All young children can dance! And when they do, they look a lot cuter than we do, so we get a bigger crowd.