Coming from a continent (the Americas) where Carnival is a very important celebration, and have lived in two countries (Venezuela and Brazil) where it is – indeed – a big deal (I have been to Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival and I highly recommend… You have to go, at least once in your live). Last friday I didn’t have any expectations from what I was going to experience in the Cologne Carnival, because Rio is just the best and nothing can beat it. Or so I thought! We (Mario and I) departed by car at 1 pm to Cologne, Germany, where we were meeting three very crazy Finish friends to walk around the city dressed as an airlines crew: Mario was going to be the captain, I was the co-pilot, and our friends as hostesses. Everything was planed with months ahead and it was great.
The carnival is widely celebrated in Europe, mostly in the catholic countries. The Netherlands and Germany are somehow divided by religion; where sound from the Maas river is catholic (in 1301 the Maas marked the western border of the Holy Roman Empire and France). And, actually, I noticed that while we were still in the region of Holland, no festivities at all, but when we were approaching the south of the country (North Brabant and Limburg) the vibe change drastically. We stopped by the city of Den Bosh, that was finishing the arrangements for the three days of carnival festivities; the towns people were dressed with the colours of the city (red and yellow) and the mascot of the celebrations – a frog – was all over the place. We spend about an hour there, buying some snacks for our trip. Then, a couple of hour later we arrived to our hotel in Cologne where guests from all over Germany and some parts of the Netherlands were already dressed in their costumes to have a night of fiesta and tons of fun.
We got in the mood very quickly, and who wouldn’t with all this going on around you? While waiting for the Fins to arrive, we went out for dinner, and we ended up in this tiny bar with a bunch of people dressed up in angels, devils, witches, monks and The blues brothers, dancing to the rhythm of Schlager. Then we received the message from one of our friends and off we went to the hotel to get ready for the party. And we did party, and jumped from one bar to the other, dancing, singing, drinking, jumping and fraternized with everyone that would crossed our paths. At around 02:00 pm Mario and I left to our room. We could have stayed, but we were very tired.
On saturday we woke up very early in the morning and got ready for a nice walk around the city. I was looking forward the parades and the musical troops. We followed the crowd to the square where the troops (traditional corps dressed in Napoleonic style outfits that played marching music) and hundreds of people were gathered. On our way home on sunday we stopped in Nijmegen (south for the Netherlands) and we enjoyed a very colourful parade with vibrant and loud music… It was very fun to have been there and to have experienced a different kind of carnival. Now I belive that Rio de Janeiro isn’t the best, just different from what you might experience here in Europe.
So, have you ever celebrated carnival? 😀