Winter is the time of hard work for us. But also general laziness. We had some tough times during December and now we’re resting from street shows and focusing on training, hence the delay in our posts. Also, not much is happening; but it was. So, after days and days of trying to motivate ourselves into updating the info – here we are. Happy belated New Year, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! :)
The first important thing to do when we got to Poland was… Shaving. Nick had this weird resolution not to shave during whole Asia trip and well, he kept it. So, when he got his hands on shaving foam and razors the outcome was… Well. See for yourselves.
We had been in Poland for exactly 48 hours, just to grab our equipment, get ready, take the car and leave. We got back to Berlin to start working on Christmas Markets there. Also, Niki’s Mum asked us to do some catsitting so we thought we were pretty nicely covered for the weekend. All we had to do was some shows. Oh well.
The first day in Berlin we had spent all together, eating, baking and drinking German beer. It was nice but our bodies, unused to cold temperatures, refused to leave the apartment. :) It took us quite some motivation to dress up and go.
It was hard enough to move to Alexanderplatz to start entertaining people. Yet, full of hopes and positive thinking, we went to the place and made some shows. It started terribly as the place we picked was really bad. The next show was much more promising – we gathered huge crowd which had fun, cheered, laughed and… disappeared into thin air right after we took our hats out and said we wanted people to pay us. Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas.
We tried to work in Berlin for two days with no luck. It turned out people were willing to spend money on Christmas Markets to buy Gluehwein, food and gifts but they were not interested in paying the artists. At all. The only positive accent during our stay in Berlin was this drummer which played on the street. The guy was using buckets, pots and mostly everything you could find in a hardware store. But even him, despite really impressive skills, earned copper.
With our spirits down, we spent rest of the weekend in Berlin and moved on to Leipzig telling ourselves that the capitol of Germany had never been a good place to work anyway. So we visited our friends, Hennie, Manu and their small munchkin – Carolina, hoping for the best.
Leipzig and motivation fluctuations
And so, we arrived in Leipzig just for a few days before our move to the South of Germany and Switzerland. We stayed at our good friends’ place where we always feel so welcome. Manu and Hennie are our friends originally from BeWelcome.org, a similar site to CouchSurfing, but over the years I wouldn’t call our relations strictly hosts-guests any more. Anyway, knowing that Winter is coming, we gave it a shot in Leipzig.
It wasn’t nearly as good as in summertime but it was definitely better than in Berlin! We worked hard and Manu, a photography enthusiast, took some pictures of us performing for the people. It was nice, however it also was really cold so Niki wasn’t really happy to go outside.
With our outfits modified as well as our routine we managed to keep the Show short (less than 10 minutes!), yet entertaining. Wearing several layers made us feel a bit warmer but it limited our moves and executing some figures was quite a challenge.
It wasn’t definitely what we expected Christmas time to be like, though. People weren’t that much into giving and sharing, they were more into receiving and scuttling. Oh well. We hoped Konstanz and Zurich will give us the proper income and audiences, so very soon we packed our car again and we left to Winterthur to also visit our other friend.
When we arrived to Winterthur we were welcomed to a nice, cozy and freezing household of our friend Anna and her housemates. The only source of heat was a paraffin oil heater and some electric ones in other rooms. Generally, as long as you stayed in the living room it was okay-ish but a trip to the toilet or bathroom could result in frostbites, hypothermia and depression. Niki for the most of the day looked something like this:
Although the house was extremely cold we felt very welcome there. People were nice, the place had a good vibe and the city is exactly in between Zurich and Konstanz.
A bit reserved, we planned to first work in Konstanz. When we got there, we saw the obvious Christmas Market. We tried to perform in vicinity but it turned out the city is so generous only in summertime – at the first place we started our show the staff threw us out and at the other… Better not to mention. In short we were very, very disappointed. fortunately we still had Zurich to work in, but to be honest, we were losing our enthusiasm very fast. It was cold, people were not willing to pay us (understandable – Christmas shopping), we were constantly in conflict with authorities or other buskers… The odds were against us.
As it was said, Zurich was next. I think it’s worth saying that the day was colder than the previous one… So cold in fact that during the show our fingers were too stiff to perform properly. Ouch. We set up on the side of a huge Christmas Market. You know, this way we could always say that we thought it wasn’t the private area any more… (we actually did hope it wasn’t). We’ve managed to do two shows before we were asked to leave. Nicely, but firmly. But you know what the funny thing was? Every time the person asking us was a cleaning guy. In Konstanz and here. They could call the police though, so we didn’t even discuss this fact with them.
We earned some cash, the audience was pretty ‘meh’, but it wasn’t too bad. On the bright side, Zurich looked beautiful. Lights, little Fire Balls to warm your hands up, a little ice-rink for kids to practice ice-skating. Even in this severe cold it was hard not to smile.
The only place we haven’t tried yet (or the only place that we haven’t been thrown out of yet) was the city we were staying in – Winterthur. And that’s when the Fun began! To perform there you need a permission. That alone is not so weird… But to get it, you had to go to the Police Station. Only on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and only at 12.30pm. You cannot perform any other day and you cannot do it after 7pm.
We appeared at the Station at 12.20. 10 minutes later we were one of 5 people waiting for the same purpose – the permission. But how are they going to solve it, if only 2 people can get it? Well, I’ll tell you how! A nice policeman takes 5 pieces of paper, stamps two of them, folds them, mixes them in a hat and lets you choose. Now isn’t that professional and respectful! It didn’t matter whether you’re good or not, it didn’t matter if you play music or juggle with chainsaws. No. It was all pure luck. We all stood in a circle, knowing that only two of us will be happy. Quite humiliating, no question about it.
We got it. Nick chose the lucky piece of paper. The second one was picked up be a guy playing on a big drum. All other artists left, sad and disappointed. It didn’t feel nice, if we weren’t in a need of money we would probably give it to someone. Weirded out and a bit disgusted, we went to receive our permission. And you know what? We had to pay for it. 20 franks. And our wallet contained 19 franks and 30 cents. Yeah… there was no way they could let it go, oh no. Nick ran to the ATM, the lowest note to take out was 50 franks. Arghgh. And the nice police officer, with his fake, patronising smile said that they don’t give change. So Nick went to the shop to break it.
And there it is, a lousy, scribbled-on, not-so-worth-it-at-all permission. Yay.
We got it together with a list of rules. Apparently we weren’t allowed to use amplifiers, we had to change the place every 30 minutes (200m at least) and yeah, finish before 7pm. Luckily, it was so cold that we finished only half an hour later, but normally we don’t even start before 9.00pm. Well, Winterthur is not going to be on our list ever again! We made three performances, occasionally passing by this guy with a drum, who rocked big time! He had so much positive energy and bells attached to his boots. He was also dressed in a traditionally Swiss way, which gave his performance a nice kick.
While it was getting late and we were packing, a guy with a guitar, a lot of cables and an amplifier started to set up. Surprised and knowing that he does not have a permit, we asked him if he knows, what he’s doing. He confirmed and said he doesn’t care, he just wants to try. We shrugged, looked at each other and gave him the permission we didn’t need any more. Even though it had our names on, there was a big chance no one was going to check if it matched the owner. The guy got really happy and gave us 10 franks for it. Nice!
We wandered around the Winterthur’s market for a while before going home. We knew that there was nothing waiting for us there, all the cities were out of question and it was just way too cold. We made our minds to make a jump back to Leipzig the next day. But for that moment we enjoyed the colours and the atmosphere around us.
Back in Lepzig
Thanks to our dear Manu and Hennie, who still weren’t sick of us, we had a place to stay for the last 5 days before Christmas. When we arrived in Leipzig on Sunday, we made it just on time for a family dinner, with their parents plus Hennie’s brother and their family. We felt like one of them, we ate and laughed, sharing stories and admiring their well behaved kids. ;) When the party was over, we helped Manu with the clean up. It ended up with us sitting at the kid’s table on really tiny chairs, having imaginary tea that tasted really groovy! ;D
Our shows in Leipzig were very average and they got even worse due to the Berlin Christmas Market incident, with this crazy terrorist driving a truck through a street full of people. We also felt a bit too sad to perform, especially that day. And the following day it was raining. So we just bought ourselves a portion of small pancakes with eggnog and went home.
While counting money we have realised that we were missing the paper money we earned. Niki was in charge of it, she had it in her pocket. It was only 15 euros, but still… It seemed she had lost it. They must have fallen out of her pocket. Poor thing was upset the whole evening.
The next day in the afternoon a neighbour popped by the flat. Manu called Niki over; it appeared that the guy had found the 15 euros on stairs the day before! Unbelievable! It was so heart-warming to know that there are still honest people like that in the world.
During our stay in Leipzig we also had a chance to play with Carolina’s toys. When this little munchkin was asleep, Hennie and us started the adult toys’ experiments. Everything started with the wooden cars and the question, what would they look like if they generated smoke?
Then it just got more interesting. We were wondering how much they can endure. Would the block of wood stop their rage?
The obstacles were getting more and more creative…
… and the accidents more and more GORE!
After that we turned into crazy scientists, conducting experiments with liquid smoke and trying to imprison a balloon.
Our fun was shortly interrupted by Manu’s appearance. We showed him outcome of our experiments and we managed to lure him to our side! He joined us happily, bearing darkness and lasers!
We’ve had a lot of fun, as always with these guys, but then it was time to go home and celebrate Christmas with our family. Holiday time!
All in all we saved enough to spend this winter calmly at home, focusing on training. Fingers crossed!
We spent Christmas Eve in Berlin with Niki’s Mum and her husband Martin. We had time to rest and warm up after the whole 3 weeks of working in the cold. On the 25th we drove to Poznań to have a Christmas dinner with Niki’s Dad and then her Grandparents. Even though we all agreed on simple and not too pricey presents, we got quite a lot of stuff. It was first Christmas we spent like that in years!
Ah, right, after dinner we also went to visit Niki’s godparents and her cousins. Fun!
On the 26th we had dinner at Nick’s Dad’s place.
We were wondering whether to work on New Year’s Eve, but it was so cold and we were still so worn off that we decided not to. We took a last minute invitation from Niki’s friends and we spent it with them, mixing Polish and Ukrainian cultures. :)
It was a perfect step in 2017! Stay tuned, a lot is about to happen!