Karneval in Köln

It’s that time of the year when you feel out of place when you’re dressed up in normal and casual clothes.  Cities and town along the Rhein River celebrate the Karneval, or Fasnet as it is known here in Freiburg that culminates to Rosenmontag.  I attended the more traditional Schuttig last year in Elzach.  This year, I decided to go modern and went to Köln (Cologne).

My cousin and I made sure we were dressed appropriately.  By appropriate I mean not the casual winter garb.  We made it a point to blend in the crowd.  She with her hugging-clown headband and I in my pyjamas (I left my magician hat in Freiburg).  We were ‘mild’ compared to the others.  Babies and grandparents alike where dressed for the occasion, as an elephant, clown, and other characters other than ones’ normal self.  A couple of days before when we got lost in Duesseldorf, an older guy dressed in a cow costume with a beer in one hand asked us where we’re going.  Had it not been Karneval season, I wouldn’t have trusted him to distinguish between a road and a field, much less talk to him.  We followed his directions and found our way in the end.

If Narri Narro is the shout in Freiburg, the Kölsch yell Alaaf!  We on the streets beg and shout Kamele! for those people on the float to throw us goodies.  In the end we went him with a bagful of chocolates, gummy bears, and a handful of roses (and a kiss for me as well).  I really like chocolate-covered wafers but until now I cannot stand the sight of one wafer.  One is sure to get something from this grand day of goody-giving yet some people tend to still get competitive.  The old woman standing beside my cousin Emily was pushing and shoving her away to grab the candies that fell on the ground.

The Karneval parade started a little after 11 a.m. and still wasn’t done by the time we decided to leave four hours later.  This included the one hour of finding our way out of the parade criss-crossing through the streets of downtown Köln and squeezing through the thick crowd and barriers to the main train station.  At one point we even found ourselves in the middle of the parade! As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them!

More photos in my flickr page.  Thanks for viewing!

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