The Gadabouts

Two Street Artists travel blog

Month: December 2015

[:en]4500km South West – Portugal (part 2) and the Ferry[:]

[:en]19.11.2015

When we were in Lisbon we’ve sent a lot of Couch requests to Evora, Albufeira, Faro and some other places, to yet again let the fate decide where to go, as long as it was in the direction of South. ^^ Merita, a girl from Evora, was the one who had a pleasure of hosting us. How lucky she was, wasn’t she? ;) We arrived there in the evening and in the first few minutes of talking, we felt like we’ve known each other for ages. It wasn’t the only great thing – we basically dropped our jaws when we saw where she lived. It was a XIV century house located right in the city centre. Literally, when you opened the door to the patio you found yourself right in front of the city cathedral. Like, wow. XD

Not only that, the whole house, even though inhabited, maintained this unique old-place-vibe. The floors were squeaky, there were no doorknobs, only small levers and the heating system simply non-existent. Of course we felt immediately at home there, with a lot of space, cushions and… replaceable propane container which was to help providing both fire to the stove and warm water. Unfortunately, whereas it did it job splendidly with fire, it failed miserably with water – for few days we’ve spent there we were able to shower properly only once. ^^

Our stay with Merita can be easily described as one of the best CS experiences ever. Both her and her flat mates, especially Anna, were lovely, mad as a hatter, thoughtful and just so much fun to be with them. The other one was a badass guy, who we were instructed not to get scared of and who brought with him marinated olives from his family town (Nick loved them, I’d say… ewwww). However, I enjoyed a tangerine tree right outside the house very, very much! We’ve never tasted this fruit freshly picked before. It changes everything.

What is more, they have a cat. It is a very important positive factor of being a good host. ;D

The town of Evora is truly beautiful. It has completely untouched city walls, charming streets and a very pleasing architecture. Moreover, the place was drowning in golden and orange leaves, it was a real autumn we both haven’t seen in a while! Unfortunately there wasn’t too many people around, so we couldn’t perform there. We were wondering how to make money and that’s where Merita came in- she told us when people from Erasmus are meeting up and said we can do a Fire Show there. :) She also informed her friends about the event, so all in all – we had a really great and enthusiastic crowd! We had so much fun. ^^

Afterwards we went for a beer (me) and some white port wine (Nick). And that’s what happened with a table… I’m not the only one seeing it, am I?

The next day we decided to go to a place, which actually made us choose Evora as a town to go to in the first place. It was the Capela dos Ossos, or in English – the Chapel of Bones. Its entire walls are covered in skulls and bones of around 5000 bodies. It was built in XVI century and above the entrance the sentence warns you: Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos (“We bones that here are, for yours await”). It gives you the creeps, but definitely worth seeing.

Later on we had a nice dinner that Merita and Anna cooked. It was really great- so many of us, from different countries, with different cultures, sitting at the table, chatting and laughing. The world should just stay this way. Then I proceeded to bake brownie and… for the first time in my life – I burnt it. ;D The oven-thing appeared to be broken, so top of it was not baked and the bottom was burnt. But you know what? It was still tasty! ;D

Eventually we said our goodbyes. It really was a shame, we could’ve stayed there forever! Well, maybe not forever, but longer.

  But we had a ferry to catch. Our Couch request has lead us to Albufeira, which was flooded recently. We had two hosts in this area, the first one was okay and the second one was very interesting.
Her name was Marie, she was an independent, middle-aged single woman with strong opinions. Conversations with her were always witty and had us on top of our thinking. She was also very hospitable and giving – we were really low on money, she did most of the shopping and didn’t want anything in return. Well, maybe just a recipe for banoffee pie, om nom nom. ^^ Her house was really cozy – in warm colors, with a fireplace, books and one really nasty cat (still lovely, you know, the sort that wants you to stroke them and when you do, you might lose your hand).

It was already quite cold outside, so working was out of question. It was nice to stay in, we even prolonged our stay, of course only thanks to courtesy of Marie. She didn’t mind our company, we had a lot to talk about, plus Nick was skillfully doing his magic in the kitchen. ^^ Imagine Nick’s astonishment, when the cat climbed on his knees (he was the closest one to the warm fireplace) and lied down. Touching her was of course impossible, but she seemed to be comfy.

And there it is! 28.11.2015, the day of our departure from Huelva (Spain) to Tenerife. We got up around 6.00 that day, as we had 120km to go and in Portugal the time zone has one hour difference.
What’s really interesting, the weather was warm and nice… only until Spanish border. When we crossed the river which apparently divides Spain and Portugal we found ourselves in cloudy, really cold place and driving was really a nightmare. For quite some kilometers we felt like back in Germany. ^^ But eventually, we made it.

Finally, the stress could go away. All we do now is wait and hope that the Titanic story is not going to repeat itself. ; ) And of course, this moment when everything worked out, we made it to the ferry after 8 weeks of our adventure… I got a cold sore. I love my immune system, seriously. ==’’
During the time we were waiting to board our ferry we met this Finnish guy on a motorcycle. He was only half shaved – half of a mustache (and was planning on the other half on the beard soon). It looked hilarious. XD He said he got bored of normal conventions, hence the “haircut”. He was surely after his 50th birthday, but he decided to drop whatever he was doing on a continent and go to Gran Canaria to be a karaoke DJ. What a spirit!

The trip on a ferry lasted 40 hours.

It was quite tiring, you know, crying children, loud adults and uncomfortable seats. But there was a swimming pool with different light settings. ;D Sorry for the blurr, we still only operated with our smartphone…

Another person whom we met on the ferry was this Polish guy, Igor. He was so impressed by our lifestyle that he decided to buy us breakfast. XD As Polish people do, we of course had a whole bag of food, but we were slowly running out of it, so we gladly accepted. And, of course, never say no to free meal.  Unfortunately eventually we missed each other – we were supposed to meet up at 8.30am, but we had the Portuguese time and he had the continental time. So all in all he bought us lunch. It was really nice of him, but it was the worst food we’ve ever tasted in our entire lives! Even the potatoes were screwed up – how’s that possible?! They smelled and tasted of raw fish and they were really chewy… Ew. Potato-fish flavored chewing gum.
With a small delay we landed on Tenerife. It was around 3am, we had a Couch in La Orotava for this particular night. We fell asleep immediately after putting our heads on a pillow. We got up with our host at 8 (-ish) and left to our flat.

And that was it. We were finally home. HOME.
Niki (and Niki’s little helper)[:]

[:en]4500km South West – Portugal (Part 1)[:]

[:en]6.11.2015

Portugal, Portugal… Wow. This was really something. Actually, so much happened in this country that it took us a while to motivate ourselves and create the post. The road to Porto was incredible. Porto was incredible. Everything was incredible! Amazing views, exciting curves and (finally) the warmth were making this trip really pleasurable.

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We even crossed the dam as the natural border between Spain and Portugal is the river Douro. It was really spectacular! : D

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Unfortunately we couldn’t find a host in Porto and our requests were mostly declined or ignored so we decided to stay in a hostel for some time. The first one we stayed at was quite creepy. Rooms were really dark and a shower was right next to our bed. Internet connection – tricky. As we arrived in Porto in the late evening, we felt a little bit lost and confused. We tried to find lamp oil, but with no luck. It meant no Fire shows; however we also met this guy who told us about good places to perform! And that there are no regulations concerning street art. With light hearts and hope for tomorrow we just bought something to eat and went back to the hostel.
The next day we tried doing some bubbles by the river at Praça da Ribeira, just for a warm up. It went just okay, but it was good to see it’s really possible there. ^^ We were melting though, as it was around midday and the sun was very strong. It was definitely a nice touch after the weeks of coldness, but as we were not used to it, we left early to a different hostel. This one was really nice, although it smelled funny. And it wasn’t really a hostel, more a guest house of some sort. We got comfy and then started to get ready to work.

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We finally managed to find fuel for our shows (in Leroy Merlin, quite far away!).
Also, FINALLY the tide has changed with our work. The Fire Shows were better than anywhere in Spain or France and the people in Porto appreciative. After a nice set of fun we decided that Porto is really cool – very beautiful and calm, even though swarming with tourists during the day. Also, there are a lot of artists on the street, so if you don’t get there early, you might miss your spot. We had to keep that in mind.
While shopping for dinner (pizza!) we came across this little thing.

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Is that some sort of wine for children? They should really attach a straw there somewhere, haha. XD
Anyway, after two nights in Porto we decided to go Braga, because our friend Pat invited us over a while ago. He lives in a nice house there with fellow students and a very cute and naughty dog Beck.

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As we didn’t have much to do there (Braga is a small town and there was no people on the streets), we could finally get some positive energy, so needed for the rest of the journey. Nick took upon him a task to train Beck and he would probably succeed, if we stayed there longer. The dog really missed people’s attention and, basically, their company, so we were taking him for a walk every time we could. ^^

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Pat told us about a really beautiful place – it was a church with a great viewpoint. He said that there are 600 stairs leading to the top (oh yeah, some people pay to be taken up there by this little train…). We were very eager to go up…!

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No, really… ^^

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We were counting the stairs of course. 600? We’ll see…

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Finally we made it to the top. ^^ 584 steps.

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It was definitely worth it, we could see the whole Braga from there! Sun was shining, Beck was happy and we felt completely satisfied with the World at this point. : D

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Also, we decided if gods’ house is a church then most probably this was their summer house. That’s how beautiful place it was.

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Eventually we said our goodbyes and came back to Porto. This time we stayed on CouchSurfing with Carol, a girl from Mexico. She was there on the Erasmus exchange. Her house had a great potential; even though it was dark, it had nice, big staircase and if only it was taken care of, you know, cleaned and fixed, it could be a nice place to live. For now it was okay, but we only stayed there for 2 nights, returning to a guest house again. We didn’t want to leave Porto just yet and we wanted to have still some fun here and to explore it a bit.

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Fire shows were cool, so we happily went to try some port wine. We sat down out in the terrace, watching the river and enjoying ourselves. Besides wine, we also ordered a Portuguese traditional pie-thing. It was good to have something to snack on with this beverage, as we only had one glass each, but it was enough to make us more than tipsy. ; D

Nick: I haven’t even finished the glass yet, and I can already feel it… It’s really strong!
Waitress: First time?
Nick: Um… yeah.
Waitress: Yes, it’s normal. Been there, done that.

We asked a guy sitting next to us to take a photo. Then we started talking to him and it appeared we have a lot in common, especially the way of travelling. The guy was American, we’ve already forgotten the name, but he also doesn’t like the typical, touristic places. He likes to explore and discover; he told us a lot of funny stories from his travels. Eventually the waitress joined in the conversation. It was so nice. ^^ We talked for about three hours, laughing and drinking one glass of port wine each, again feeling happy, fulfilled and in unity with the world. Again. This gave us time to sober up (we had to go back by a motorcycle).

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What is more, while performing in Porto we met this Polish guy (who lives in Germany) with not bad photography skills. He took some photos of our Fire show and sent it to us after some time. Yay! ^^

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It was high time to go South. We found a host in Lisbon, at least we thought we did; a day before coming to his place he said he’s sorry, but something important came up on his end, so it’s no longer an option. We got really upset, as it meant we had to spend another evening/free time on looking for hosts on CS. Plus not too many people take guests on such a short notice. Meh. We booked a hostel.
You know how everything happens for a reason? So did that. This hostel was one of the nicest places we stayed during our travel. The first thing you see when you enter is a lounge with big pillows, blankets and comfy chairs, everything in an atmosphere of dimmed lights and with nice music in the background. People from the staff were excellent – so nice and helpful. Breakfast included. Showers, ah… I could spend hours there (oops, I hope I didn’t). And all of that for only 8 euro per person.

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Seems wonderful, doesn’t it? Oh if it only stayed this nice… Lisbon could be a great part of our trip, however street art was… regulated, yeah. If we wanted to do something, we had to either apply for a permit or simply avoid the police. All in all, we didn’t earn that much; people weren’t keen to pay or watch for that matter. There also weren’t too many of them. Well, there were a lot of homeless junkies, drug dealers and generally unpleasant folk trying to sell us drugs (hell yeah, ‘cause whe a person has dreadlocks it automatically means one is a heavy drug user O_o).
After arriving to the hostel we went for a walk, just to look around. It was funny to come across these old type trams, which only go up and down from a steep hill.

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Next day was very productive, as we went to look for places to perform in Lisbon. We’ve seen a lot, walked for hours and came back with nothing, only this amazing photo. For your information, they weren’t real dogs, they were only printed on paper. : P

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However we did meet other bubble makers. From Poland. How come. Unfortunately, even though they were trying to be helpful they didn’t tell us anything we haven’t already known.
Oh wait, we also made a documentation on this pink street, apparently very full at night, you know, full of pleasure houses and all that jazz. ^^

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It was very clear to us that we won’t make too much money here, even more highlighted by the encounter of bubblers, so we decided to visit a nearby town, called Cascais. Results were pretty similar, we managed to earn something, however it wasn’t enough to have savings. We were forced to spend another evening sending Couch requests. And then hooray! We got an acceptance from a girl living in Evora, a city we really wanted to visit. : )
So the next day, before leaving Lisbon, we still wanted to use the fact that we’re in Portugal and do some sightseeing. Our host, Merita, wasn’t home until the evening anyway. We’ve decided to go and see Sintra. It is known for a beautiful palace, looking like from a fairy tale. However when we got there, there was this huge gate and a security guy, telling us we have to pay 6 euro per person if we wanted to go to the part surrounding it and 11,50 if we wanted to see the palace. So our excitement to see this:

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… had to be satisfied by this:

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A little bit disappointed, we came back to the hostel for our stuff and to have a look on Couchsurfing one last time. While sitting on the floor, we saw a guy and a girl trying to set up a very weird looking… chair? Torture contraption? Not knowing what it is, we were staring curiously. When they set it up, Nick said to them:

Nick: What is it?
Guy: It’s a massage chair.
Nick: Sorry, but it looks very kinky!
Girl: Oh, guys, they always think about one thing, don’t they? (looking at me, looking for confirmation)
Me: Well, to be honest my first thought was also kinky… XD

What to think of it if the chair looked like this:

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We talked with them for a while and now we’re friends, at least with Jimmy. ;) He’s from Australia and he’s a massage therapist. I actually was lucky enough to sit in the kinky chair and have a massage myself for a few minutes. ^^ It was really hard to leave, as they both appeared to share our sense of humor and it was a pleasure to chat with them. It’s a shame we met them when we were basically out the door!
And so we left Lisbon.

To be continued…

Niki (& Nick a tiny bit)[:]

[:en]4500km South West – Spain[:]

[:en]27.10.2015

Barcelona. As I mentioned in a previous post, we didn’t find a host there. However, we managed to find a very cheap hostel with a free breakfast, just around the corner from La Rambla. What hit us on a first day was traffic. Chaotic, fast and furious! Scooters were everywhere – when we stopped on the red light, by the time it was green there were 20 or more of these crazy bastards! Speeding like hell, overtaking you in very dangerous places, honking and shouting. It took Nick about 2 days to get used to that and try to keep up with this craziness.
During the first night we went for a walk to La Rambla. It was swarming with tourists, hookers and restaurants. Street art in this area was divided into sections (!). First we passed a part of painters. Then, like crossing an invisible line, a part with statues. And that’s it. In this beautiful, busy city with so much potential! But meh, we knew from the beginning that rules are quite strict there. It was just weird to see art… put in order.
The next day I was very unlucky to be unwell due to the every-month-women-stuff, so I stayed in a hostel, looking for hosts somewhere in Spain. Nick went to look for a spot to do some bubbles or fire shows. We were really desperate, we were running out of money. We had to find somewhere to stay pretty soon, as working in Spain is just a pain in the ass – people don’t pay, don’t appreciate. And the lovely, lovely police… Here’s what I missed and what Nick was kind enough to take photos of. ^^ <3

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Now that’s a big pin cushion, isn’t it? :D
Apparently Nick could also find more remote places in this crowded city. ^^

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Architecture of Barcelona is beautiful. It shows creativity and style, it’s a mixture of modern and old. The only thing we didn’t really like (and please don’t hate us for that) was Sagrada Familia. Yes, we know Gaudi was a great architect and he sacrificed many years for this project. We know it’s been built since 1882. And yeah, it’s huge and monumental, but… I don’t know, it looked like a giant child dropped a bag of marbles on it.
That day Nick made three fire shows, but earnings were so sad they’re not even worth mentioning… :(
Next day we went to Park Güell and that was a jackpot. People were very nice, children were playing and we finally managed to earn some decent money. What is more, if you climb up a bit, you could see entire Barcelona! That was really something. I love this place! And here’s what we saw on a way to work.

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We came back to a hostel to find out that we have to pay over 60 EU for next night, as it’s a weekend coming up. And just as we were about to fall in a misery, one of my CS requests… was accepted! In such a short notice! Yay! To Zaragoza we go! We packed up really quickly, as it was quite late, and drove straight there.

Our host’s name was Pablo and he was a puppeteer. Apparently he left everything few years ago to pursue this dream (he studied physics before). Now he lives with his lovely woman Anna and their son Yago, he works in a theatre for children, making spectacles with his own-made puppets! We were invited to see Pablo on stage and I have to tell you – he’s very talented. It’s so hard to gain children’s interest for about an hour, to make them focus for so long, and he has done it skillfully. ^^  Even though mine and Nick’s Spanish is not so great, we understood most of it and laughed our asses off! XD
After the show we helped Pablo clean up the stage.

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Ah, to be on stage again, I miss it so much!

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Pablo took us to see his workshop, backstage and basically all the theatre. It was great to watch him being so excited, so happy and proud to show us around. This man couldn’t be any happier. :)

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During the whole time in Zaragoza we worked once with bubbles and once with fire. It wasn’t really worth it, but hey, it’s always something to fill our tank. One evening Nick decided to make Polish pierogi for dinner, so Pablo and his family could try some of our cuisine. Yum!

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The next day our host surprised us with a will to cook – he made us a very delicious Spanish omelette. It was a really great experience to spend time with them. They are kind and welcoming people, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in a house. It was such a shame we soon had to say goodbye. But we just got another host in Madrid. :)

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We arrived in the capital of Spain in the late evening. Our host was Yerik, a guy who really hated his boring job, but who also earned his “pocket money” by playing double bass on the street with his band. He definitely understood our journey and our lifestyle, he was another street artist after all! His flat was really dark and small and we didn’t have much time to spend with each other, but it was still a very nice time. Yerik likes to read a lot, so we could finally chat about books with someone. ^^
As for work, we made some bubbles in the city centre, in a place called Sol. Unfortunately we were interrupted by the rain. It was raining cats and dogs almost all the time we were in Madrid! Well, it was only three days, but we didn’t manage to see much of this city. I guess we’re gonna have to come back there one day!

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Our last stop in Spain was Salamanca. Getting there was simply horrible – through mountains, in freezing cold and rain. We didn’t even find any nice place to stop for a cup of tea. Seriously, it was like riding a bike in a middle of nowhere. When we finally got to Salamanca, we were sad, cold and tired. Fortunately our new host, Stephi, gave us a really warm welcome.
We stayed in a student flat. Stephi is a really nice, absolutely 100% positive girl who is really hospitable and keen to learn, listen, talk, sing, dance, laugh and eat. :) We spent amazing few days in her place where we also met her amazing friends and had a lot of fun. She went with us for bubbles one day and she also accompanied us to fire shows. We only managed to do two of them before being stopped by the police. :P We made a third one a bit further from the centre. We didn’t earn much there (hello, Spain!), but it was still nice. One night we watched The Croods, one of our favourite movies. We laughed so hard! Oh, and we decided to learn one phrase in Esperanto – eble la forto estu kun vi! Which means “may the force be with you”. :D
Ah, and then, the time has come, our Promised Land… Portugal! Our first stop- Porto. Things were about to change there for good. :)

Niki

 

Note from Nick for fellow buskers and vagabonds:

Barcelona is a nice place to work in as long as you have patience to explore and search. In street arts conditions, the city is divided into two sections – “Ciutat Vella”  which is the Old Town and the rest. Ciutat Vella is strictly regulated and to perform there you need to obtain a permission from the city authorities issued once a year around January/February and which costs around 190€. No amplifiers, no Fire, no loud instruments, no dangerous objects, no loud dangerous objects, and so on allowed. And you have only one place where you can perform for the whole duration of the permit. Circle shows are a no-go, Fire shows even more. If you want to perform in the Old Town area you have two choices – either you obtain a permit and do it legally or play guerilla and run from the police. Las Ramblas is absolutely off limits, don’t even think about trying there, the Police won’t let you even put down your equipment, it’s swarming all over the place.
As for the rest of the city, it is legal to perform and do any kind of shows except stated above. ^^ However, if you manage to find a nice spot somewhere else in the city you shouldn’t be bothered and if yes, it is a wise idea to obtain a map and regulations from the Convent St Augusti. It is really neatly described here 
A nice place is Park Guell, however beware of huge competition – vendors, musicians, puppeteers everywhere, just be aware people have limited amount of money. :P

Zaragoza is generally a bad place to perform, people don’t want to pay, we have heard you need a permit there but we decided not to push our luck. Anyway even the Fire Show on Halloween Night (!!!) was around 17 euros so you can see how ridiculous it is.
Salamanca is a bit better but the problems with the police make it no fun at all. Still, if you manage to make a show on Plaza Mayor (or something like that), in the late afternoon/evening you can gather a decent crowd that will pay you a bit.

Madrid is the only place where it turned out busking is legal and there are officially no problems there. The authorities decided to lift the ban on street performing so the city can flourish with street entertainment, however we didn’t have enough time to explore and check how much of it was true.[:]

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