“Are those two guys wearing dresses?” I asked my friend in surprise. Joining the crowd that had gathered, we watched as two unusually dressed young guys juggled, played ukelele, and performed on a slack line. This happened last summer in Kraków.
As the police issued a ticket to some kids drinking beer (drinking in public is prohibited in Poland), the performers hushed the crowd for fear of legal retribution. They weren’t legally allowed to walk on a slack line in public. Everyone laughed at the perfect timing as on one side of a tree, the guy juggled atop a slack line while on the other, the police stood, completely oblivious.
After the performance, I went up to the guys to ask them what they were doing. They told me that they were travelling from Slovenia to Poland without money and making a short film about being street performers for two weeks (below). Please take a few minutes to check it out, because it was a really great idea. Below the film, you’ll find the responses to a few questions I recently pitched to Nik about his adventures. He’s the guy with the longer hair in the video and the green headband in the photos. The other guys name is Robi. If you have anymore questions, please leave a comment at the end of the article.
Can you outline your journey in a couple of sentences?
The journey was an idea in our heads for a while, but the decision to actually do it fell rather last minute. The year before, we wanted to travel to Toscany and had well laid out plans a couple of months in advance. They involved a car, budget, and luxuries.. but then nothing happened. For this trip, we felt that the timing was good and Robi had an interest in the area around Gdansk, as well as the whole of Poland and Slovakia. We had some connections along the way and the European juggling convention in Lublin was my goal. About a month prior to starting, we started to work on the little show for the road, putting together some elements, but the moneyless decision only came a day before departure. We thought, ‘since we have a street performance, why not try to live from it.’ And so it was that the show took shape. All we really wanted was to travel and have fun! 🙂 In the end, it was a moneyless trip from Slovenia to Poland, Krško-Lublin to be exact, where I stayed at the European juggling convention for 10 days while Robi hitchhiked to Gdansk in the north. He then joined me back in Lublin and we hitchiked back home together.
Where did you sleep at night?
We slept under some sort of a bridge once, that was the most unusual bed, but otherwise we had a friend in Žilina where there is a youth cultural centre, and we stayed with them. We had another friend in Nitra and we stayed with her family, then we gathered some money to fancy around in a hostel in Krakow for a day or two. Most of all, we used CouchSurfing. You [Jamie] were actually the first person to introduce us to the concept of free-camping. Oh, and the last night, we slept in a gas station but not for long. As we took shifts catching cars, it wasn’t really a sleep.
What / how did you eat?
We bought some food supplies from the first shows in Ljubljana, but were careful with it by trying to eat as little as possible. We bought bread and fruits from the supermarket to cook in hostels or ate with people we knew who cooked for us. But the best memories of food was going in a supermarket, buying some pasta and sauce and cooking in a hostel. It was fun because Robi is a vegetarian and I’m not but we had a shared budget. Because it was not big, we couldn’t always eat what each of us would want.
Did you have any problems?
As far as problems go, some encounters with police in Nitra, where we had a show on the fountain in the middle of the square, but it was a one time thing, so we made a deal. The police again caused us problems in Žilina as we were setting up in the centre; they stopped us but it led to one of the most interesting shows because we then performed at Stanica in Žilina (the cultural center) under a bridge at night with lights and an awesome atmosphere. The police were strictest in Krakow, which is a tourist spot and we had a couple of shows, but we eventually made an exceptional deal with the council, giving us a special permit. That was fun, going through the offices with Polish speaking people and convincing them to let us perform; we decided to say that we were making a documentary about street performance, rather than explaining the moneyless part. 🙂 On the way back home we had a really weird ride, the man was half asleep, half excited, and wanted some money because he said that he missed a highway turn, did a circle, and had no gas. We guided him towards Bosnia, where he was going through Slovenia, and we showed him a shortcut, which was also a ride directly to our homes. We couldn’t have asked for anything better! 🙂 But it was a strange ride nonetheless. Other than that, nothing special really. We expected or hoped for different problems, snakes, dragons, you know, hitchhiking is supposed to be dangerous; that’s why we were two guys as well 😀
Would you ever do something like this again?
That was the question we asked ourselves at the end as well. Would we do it again? At that time we were going more for ‘aaah, well, maybe,’ but not immediately. I’d have to see if it’s okay, and the time, and the energy. Basically we said no … but at this moment I am thinking of doing something similiar this summer, travelling the Mediterranean and we have also talked about some shared plans. So, now it’s a yes.
Please take the time to share a thought on Nik and Robi’s adventure and what you think of them travelling without money for several weeks. I was really impressed by their journey and I hope that you enjoyed hearing about it too.