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
Now that’s a big pin cushion, isn’t it? :D
Apparently Nick could also find more remote places in this crowded city. ^^
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.
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.
Ah, to be on stage again, I miss it so much!
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. :)
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!
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. :)
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!
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. :)
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.