August 2008

Some more resolved issues-

August 30, 2008 10:55

I wasn't able to post yesterday because I ran out of battery on my laptop. It seems as though there would be a simple fix for that right, (just plug it in) but here in Europe the power outlets are of a different wattage and have different jacks than those in the Americas. I knew this before I got on the plane, but what I did not know was that computers needed their own specific power converters. The normal ones that they sell at the supermarkets will fry your comp. So I had to spend time attempting to speak french and crisscrossing from one side of Paris to the other until I found a place that actually had one of these special power converters in stock. I'm sure that if I spoke French, this all could have been cut to 30 minutes, but unfortunately this became something of a wild goose chase.

The whole episode really affected my ability to go out and busk, though I did manage to play for a couple of hours. I found that the best pitch so far has been at the Notre Dame.

Entry for 8/31

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time climbing the Eiffel Tower, where I met two cute girls from Germany, then later the girls and I went out for drinks. They left this morning for the south of France. It's too bad. It would have been fun to hang out again.

I'm having difficulty balancing time spent doing tourist things, with time playing, just going to the tower took 1/2 the day, but oh well. I'm having a great time.

Today I went to the Basilique Sacré-Cœur and the surrounding area called Montmarte, where I played. I did quite well in this area of cafes next to the Sacré-Cœur and made 22 euro in 1 hour, but then tried to play on the steps outside of the Sacré-Cœur and had very little success at only 4 euro for 15 minuets. I'm going to go play beside Notre Dame tonight. We'll see how it goes.

Drinks are very expensive here. Across the street it's 6,50 euro per beer. If you give them 7, (that's 10$ US per pint) although you can drink on the streets at 2 euro for a tall boy (although that's pretty ghetto.) No open container tickets in France :- )

The food here is so good. Some things are cheaper here than in the states, like bread and cheese! My lunches consist of a variety of bries, baguette and grapes- all of which are super cheap and are better than anything that I've had in the states. So, not a very healthy lunch, but delicious!

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I made it!

August 29, 2008 06:13

Well, it looked sketchey for a while and I thought that I might not get through it, but I came out on top and am now sitting in my hostel. It was so stressful at the airport between the currency exchange and trying to figure out which train to take and how to get tickets, but once I was actually on the train, I realized that it's not that much different than New York.

The streets are so different here. I've only seen a few blocks of the city so far, but I've already seen 2 people busking. I don't think that either of them had permits, so I think that it looks hopeful.

I'm staying at the Auberge Internationale des Jeunes. I'll be bunking with 4 other guys, so hopefully I'll meet someone to do some traveling with. It's in an old building, with an even older basement. I wonder when it was built. They keep our luggage down there, locked away (I can't have my violin stolen from me.)

I'll be going out a little later after some dinner to see if I can't find my first pitch. Wish me luck.

Hmmm, I wonder what kind of grub you can dig up in this town...

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I'm leaving tomorrow for Europe!

August 27, 2008 21:12

Yup, it's that time!

I'm so excited. I'm going to have such a blast. I figure that I have enough cash saved that I don't really have to busk at all o cover the cost of hostels and food. That takes the pressure off, as I don't have any idea the kind of success (or lack thereof) that I will encounter.

In the past two weeks I did encounter some troubles here in NYC. I received a court summons for "blocking pedestrian flow" last week at Grand Central. Seems that my luck has been turning. The problem is that every time that you get kicked out, the next time you get hassled, you're more likely to get busted by a cop that's already shooed you away before. So my favorite pitch is basically kaput (though I have played there a few times after I got busted.)

I've made numerous attempts at finding new pitches, some of which have been successful:

-around the empire state building (though this pitch is very time sensitive)

-outside of Penn Station (I've been kicked out of this area numerous times already, though it can be quite profitable if there isn't too much road noise- i.e. jackhammers and large trucks.)

-behind the MET at lunch and at dusk- there are 2 tunnels there that get decent foot traffic and there is an entrance at 82nd street that is ok too. The tunnel directly behind the MET is my favorite pitch, both for the acoustics and the tips.

I'm sure that it will take some hunting to find decent areas in each of the cities that I travel to, but I'm quite sure that I'll be able to make it work. I can't wait to try the Louvre at dusk I suppose that I'll find out if they allow me to play when I get there.

I bought a camera today, so I should have some photos to post of Paris in a couple of days.

Stay tuned.

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Response to a comment about possibly encountering problems in Paris-

August 13, 2008 20:29

First, thanks to both of you for posting comments on my blog. I think that it will be helpful to have people interested in my journey. I want to hear both positive and negative feedback.

I fully expect to encounter the law on this trip, however from my 4 years experience busking, I can say that I've busked in many places where I know that I am not technically "allowed" to play. I play everyday at a pitch that is technically of limits at Grand Central Station. In my experience, if you are a decent musician, the cops will not give you much trouble. They will shoo you away, but they wont take your name, ID, or picture.

I have had some trouble though... It seems that outdoor malls are off limits-and patrolled by rentacops. LOL I used to have this great pitch in Salt Lake City at the "Gateway" outdoor mall. I averaged 40-50$ an hour there- but then sometimes the rentacops would come around. Once I had my picture taken by these rentacops-must have been 8 of them- swarming me on their bikes! They gave me a formal warning and told me to take off and that if I stepped foot on the property in the next 6 months they would have me arrested for trespassing.

Regarding that outdoor mall-

They did schedule acts to come on (which I used to sign up for) and play for tips, but you had to get a pass. I did have their "lifetime" pass, that I payed 75$ for, but then ownership changed hands and the "lifetime" pass was no longer valid. They wanted me to pay for my own insurance, which was something like 250$!

It's sad to see malls buying a large block of land, putting in the road and sidewalk and claiming that they own the sidewalk and can tell you that you can't play on it. Just another form of censorship.

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August 12, 2008 20:52


I decided to begin this blog today, the day that I bought my plane ticket to Paris. I will spend 6.5 weeks on the road with my violin, busking anywhere and everywhere, with the intention of at least breaking even, between my tips and trip expenses, ie. cost of hostel, food, DRINK, and entertainment. Perhaps I will offset the cost of the airfare and train too?

No job compares with busking. You make your own hours, you have no boss and it can be done anywhere so long as that there are people on the streets.

My plan:

Thu, Aug 28, 2008 Newark Liberty International Airport, (EWR) to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, (CDG)
Depart: 09:05 PM
Arrive: 10:00 AM

I got this ticket off of Travelocity (today August 12th) for $750, but I noticed that if I were find a ticket using the flexible dates button, that it would have cost me 300 more and I would have had to wait until Nov. 1st to go. That was not going to happen. You can't play in the cold. The other problem was that an offer that i would receive wouldn't last 5 minutes, then I would change the arrival city and the price would drop again. Sounds like a scam.

The upfront costs of this adventure are extreamly low. 750 (airfare) + 450 (France/Italy rail pass) + 200 ( Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg rail pass) = 1400

As a funny side note, given my recent unemployment status and the fact that I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, my parents do not know that I am going to Europe. It was on the advise of my brother, that I decided against telling them. They, as well as my Grandparents, will be coming to NYC to visit this week and I thought that it would make things a lot smother if they were unaware. I think that they will be most surprised when I tell them in a couple of weeks...

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