Stuttgart is an attractive metropolitan city with parks, museums, and a bustling walking street. We were primed and ready to get out and make some money busking. Remembering what our Luxembourg busking teachers taught us, we took in the lay of the land. The walking street was active, with people shopping and scurrying about, so we looked for where the best traffic was and set up our ‘pitch’. Laying the soft case in front of me, we would “prime the pump” by dropping a few coins into it. Strapping on “Miss Guitara,” I began “fishing” by starting into my repertoire of 60’s classic rock favorites. Tunes by The Doors were always popular, as were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Before long, coins started to appear in the case as people would stop and listen for a moment, then drop some coins in the case and continue along their way.
Three or four musicians with instruments walked over to me and, in a thick Russian accent, said, “Hey, move on! This is our spot. This is where we play!”
“As I understand it, the streets are on a first-come, first-served basis. I was here first. You were not. There are plenty of places for you to play.” I said.
“Fine! We play here, and you find another spot since there are ‘plenty’.” And they began to unpack their instruments.
Great! Going to war with the Russians! “No. I will play here for a while, and then you can have it.”
“We play half hour, now, you come back later. Bye bye, go.” Their leader said.
I didn’t feel they were in the least bit nice, but I didn’t feel like I should give in, so I stopped arguing and started playing. They continued to set up right next to me and when they began to play it became a cacophony. I realized this was not going to work, I was not going to win. Cleaning up the tips, I packed up the guitar, and left to find another spot.
We had previously scoped out some other possible pitches. Making our way to the next place, we set up and began to play. Almost immediately, another couple of guys with accordions showed up. In a thick Russian accent, one of them said, “You must go from here! This our place. We play here this time every day. You go.”
Okay then, the park!
How many groups of Russian musicians are there in this city? I tried to reason with them but found it impossible. We packed up and moved on to look for somewhere else we could play. The walking street opened out into a park. People were strolling along, and we decided to try our luck there. This was much more relaxed. I started playing, and soon we had a small group of people listening as I belted out songs. Seemingly enjoying the tunes, coins were beginning to be dropped into the case. This was much better than fighting with Russians.
The space we were playing in was fairly wide and lined with trees as it opened into the park. Across from us and just a little further down the way, I could see someone with a cart bringing something in. They looked like they were setting up a small sound system with microphone stands, and little amps. Oh, no! Others showed up, plugging in their instruments and setting up a small table with CDs, all very professional.
No, they weren’t Russians. These were Peruvians! As they began to play THE classic Peruvian folk song I know you’ve heard a million times, the people left our little pitch and migrated to them. That one song seemed to play over and over as people lined up to buy CD after CD. These guys had this down to a science. It was useless to try and compete, so again, we packed up the guitar and discussed what our next move would be.
Donna had read in the guidebook that the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart was nearby, and has a Rembrandt painting. We decided this would be our next destination. We love art galleries and museums and could spend days wandering around them. There were many works by Max Beckmann, an interesting artist. Although, I think some of the most memorable pieces we saw were “Still Life with Nautilus Cup and Lobster,” ca. 1634 – David de Heem and “Felder im Frühling,” ca. 1887 – Claude Monet.
But, back in a dark corner, perhaps to protect the painting from deterioration of the pigments by light, was the Rembrandt, “Tobias healing his blind father,” ca. 1636. It really was extraordinary. The way he played with the light was amazing. We spent quite a bit of time studying it until we had to go. It was time.
One of the other strange things we heard about and so decided to see it, was a flower that blooms only every seven to ten years, the Amorphophallus titanium. This was a rare moment when this flower was beginning to bloom. A native of Sumatra, this strange flower can grow up to 10 feet tall and due to its odor, like that of a rotting corpse, the titan arum is characterized as a carrion flower. It is also known as the corpse flower or corpse plant. It really does stink! In fact, we entered the garden where it is cultivated and said, “Nope,” then we turned around and left! It was truly rank!
We decided that while Stuttgart was a nice city, we didn’t have the kind of time to invest in building a life there. We were on our way to the Rainbow gathering! So, after another day of busking until being chased off by Russians and Peruvians, we decided to take a train to Munich. We at least had a contact there from the booklet of Rainbow addresses we had received at a gathering in the states. We called the young man and asked if we could stay with him for a few days as we made some more money to get to the gathering. “Sure! Come on! I have lots of room here, brother!” And, so we rode the train to Munich.