The Story So Far

Just over a year ago I found myself at one of those metaphorical crossroads in life. I had just quit a job that wasn’t doing me any favours mentally or physically and for a wage that kept the treadmill running. For a while I had been thinking about traveling and writing songs.

A few years before I did a bit of traveling in Europe, busking to support myself. What I really want to do with my life is play a guitar and write songs. Wandering the earth and experiencing different cultures and views on life with no real roots also appeals to me.

 

I had been working for a few years in a couple of different jobs and had accumulated a few guitars, an electric organ, electric piano and a portastudio. Some good equipment for my musical interests. I was also quite fond of my record collection. Another of my interests is in philosophy. I enjoy looking at life in different perspectives as well as trying to figure out just what this thing life is all about (I’m sure there will be more on these thoughts in later posts). I’d also got quite into exploring the spiritual side of life.

So there I was sitting in my rented room in shared accommodation surrounded by my material accumulation pondering life in it’s immaterial splendour. In order to keep my possessions I’d have to find another job. The ones I’d had hadn’t really been much help in my chosen life path other than to pay for the material side of things. To go traveling I’d have to find a place to store my things or sell everything save a guitar. It all seemed to come down to a choice between living in uncomfortable security having my dreams as a hobby or taking a leap of faith and make my life the pursuit of my dreams.

If your reading this then you’ll know the name of my website and I guess the choice I made. Yeah, I sold everything or donated to charity shops save what clothes I could put in my backpack and my guitar, also took my tent and sleeping bag (figured they would be useful), and got on a bus for Paris.

It was quite a trip mentally and emotionally. I bought a copy of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari which made for interesting reading in between thoughts of ‘wow I did it’ and ‘ah what am I gonna do now’. I’ll take this moment to recommend Sapiens and thank Yuval Noah Harari for writing it. It was exactly the type of read I needed at that time.

My plan was to write songs and articles about life, society and its ills and spiritual life. Offer my thoughts and proposed solutions to the troubles of the world. Still is my idea, though, having unplugged (for want of a better phrase) from the media and YouTube and being a year down the road, my perspective has shifted. More on these things will follow in later posts.

So I got to Paris with no real plan other than to write. I spent a couple of weeks on a campsite and fell in love with Paris. It’s an amazing town. I was also enjoying a feeling of freedom, something that I thought I felt in the air anyway in Paris.

 

I discovered Voltaire and got a copy of his philosophical dictionary which I read through a few times. Spent a lot of time in a park close to the campsite with the guitar and notebook. Alas this couldn’t go on forever as I did need to start making some money, I only had what I’d made from selling all my things. I wasn’t sure about busking in Paris, I had read a couple of posts online about musicians having their instruments taken by the police. I really liked the Luxembourg area of Paris and remembered a guy back home telling me everybody smiled there, in Luxembourg itself, so I took a train.

Found a campsite just outside Luxembourg and checked in for a week and started busking. I had read it was a good town to busk and it was. I stayed 6 weeks until it started to get a bit colder. From there I moved down to Metz, back in France. Stayed a couple of weeks on the campsite. Feeling good about busking and still awestruck to a degree with Paris I went back there. With winter approaching I thought I could play in the subways and stay on the campsite, but, Paris didn’t work well for busking, at least not for me, plus it was getting to cold for my liking. I had gotten used to high 20’s and sunshine so I took a bus to Marseille.

 

Things changed here. My bank account was low and so I had to stop using it to keep an emergency fund. There was no campsite close to the city and busking didn’t pay well enough to commute, but it was warm. I knew the possibility that I’d have to sleep rough was part of my choice in traveling this way so I found an ok spot to sleep and spent a couple of weeks. Though the transition from staying on campsites to sleeping rough was not a lot of fun. It’s one thing to think about doing something but the practice is often a very different thing. Times were not easy.

I had decided that I wanted to get to Greece for the winter, Athens being the home of philosophy and all. So I decided to walk to Nice and see if I could get a bus from there, busking in the towns along the French Riviera. (This trip will be another post, I’ll add a link once it’s done.)

I made it to Nice but there was no direct bus to Greece plus I didn’t have much money. It was starting to get cold so I had to move further south. I thought I could travel through Italy and take a ferry to Greece from the south so I took a train to Milano.

Quite an impressive town centre but it was still cold with it being more north and winter setting in. With not much in the way of unamplified busking I had to move on. I had enough to take the train to Florence (Firenze).

It was a little warmer and an impressive city but to busk in the centre I’d have to get a permit. €50 for a pitch for two weeks. I didn’t really like the idea of only being able to play the same pitch and the same time slot for two weeks so I found a couple of places to play outside the centre. I decided to try and get enough money together to get to Athens and stay on a campsite there, I’d now been sleeping rough for four months save for the odd night in a hotel or hostel. Then I met a person in Firenze who had an empty apartment and said I could stay there till spring time. Luck, angels, magic or god answering my prayers, either way a very kind person to whom I am most grateful. The winter was getting quite hard and sleeping rough was not much fun. So I stayed for a few months in the apartment and got to working on some songs and learning new ones. Was also a good time to study a bit of music theory.

Spring came and I moved up to Bologna and traveled around that region for a while (will be another post). I’m now in Germany moving north to travel around and explore the north of Europe for the summer. Greece is still a place I want to go but I’m thinking I’ll save it for the winter. I like the sun and being warm but Greece may just be to hot for me in the summer.

So that’s been my first year on the road. It’s been a mix of highs and lows but all steps on an enjoyable journey building the life I want to live. I’ve met some good people and enjoyed good conversations that have both shared my views and given me different perspectives. I’ve made progress in my musical journey and been lucky enough to have had a place and time to work on that too. All in all it’s been a good year of learning and valuable experience.