Monday, December 6, 2010

Cologne, Germany.

Travelled from Amsterdam and headed north through Groningen, NL then through Oldenburg, Germany. I then travelled south to Cologne and was planning to stay only a couple of days, but I ended up staying a week it was that good. I stayed at Berger Camping in Rodenkirchen, which is about 7 km out of Cologne centre. The site is located right next to the river Rhine, and is about a 20 minute bike ride into the city. The weather was getting better as I was heading south and it was warm most days with the late summer sunshine, excellent conditions for busking. There's loads to do and see in Cologne and it attracts lots of tourism, with the Gothic Cathedral, river Rhine cruises, and the bars and restaurants all along the riverside. This is the area where I first set up to busk. The weather was good, and loads of people were out strolling down the riverside board walks, so it looked promising, and it turned out well as I made 10 euros in the first hour. There were loads of buskers in Cologne from street artists, human Statues, a 4 piece band playing classical music, a Reggae musician, electric guitarist, steel guitarist and  2 one man bands. And they were all pretty good so I felt a bit out of my depth but I got on with it and tryed to set up well away from any other Buskers as I know some of the more serious and local Artists can get a bit competitive over pitches. The main places I tryed over the week were along the riverside, around the Cathedral, near the train station and the Alter Markt, all in all the best of the places I stayed on the trip, for both things to do, the nighlife and busking.     

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holland - Amsterdam

From Antwerp I headed north into Holland and stayed a night in Gouda. The weather was still tanking down so didn't get any busking done, so the next day I headed to Amsterdam. I stayed 2 days in Amsterdam, and like alot of the big cities there isn't that many camp sites or camperstops close to the city centre. However Amsterdam had one little gem of a site that was about 7km from the centre so this was ideal. It was Camping Zeeburg, a good site with modern facilities and at 15euro a night very reasonable considering the good location close to the city. Amsterdam was a city I was looking forward to busk in but was a bit nervous and apprehensive to start with as I had heard alot of the buskers were really good, and also for the reason that alot of folk were floating around on space cakes and other "herbs". But on the first day it all went well, on the morning I had a walk around to take in the sights and saw a few buskers down Damrak and on Dam Plaza, and one of the best buskers I saw on the trip near the red light district, a Bob Marley lookalike with a great voice playing loads of different songs. Had a look in his guitar case and there must have been over 100 euros in coins! This inspired me along with the lively atmosphere, so I nipped into the Grasshopper then the Bulldog bar for a couple of beers of Dutch courage and set up near the bulldog, on one of the small bridges. There was loads of people walking past and I managed about an hour and all in all got a good response, I then moved to Rembrant square later on and did 30 mins there. A good day in all about 25 euros made, and learnt that to get the best response from people is to look happy, smile and have fun, and to play up beat songs.   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I decided to stay on a camper stop/ camping platz in Antwerp, just on the edge of the city. Generally these camperstops are great, there's loads of them in europe, and most are free. Its better if there's a few other tourer's there as it gives you a extra sense of security and someone to chat to. Met alot of people, most were on holiday, quite a few backpackers, and loads retired tourers who tour europe for alot of the year.

Cycled into Antwerp to have a look around and to locate any good busking locations. The city is a mix of history, with the old city centre with its cathedral and plaza's, along with industry and a large maritime influence. The Port is not far from the actual city centre, so its makes for an interesting mix, and has a very busy and lively feel. I saw a few buskers around the centre. One saxophonist near the riverside. Also a couple of old boys in the shopping district, one singing and playing piano, and another backing him up with the Harmonica and vocals. I headed to the central train station and set up there, as infront there's a large plaza (Astrid square) and it looked promising. It was quite busy, but the weather took a turn for the worse, and started drizzling. I managed about 30 mins and not much in the means of takings, with the weather and location being a bit open so people could easily avoid you. Taught me a good lesson though on choosing locations and obviously choosing the right weather conditions. See you next time, Jim