Monday, March 1, 2010

Karneval in Köln

[ Carnival in Cologne ]

It would be nice if I could finally get my posts on the blog in order and organized once more, but sometimes things are just a bit chaotic and a bit mixed-up.

I think the same goes for Karneval, Germany's answer to Mardi Gras, and this serves as an appropriate transition to discuss the event. Taking place in virtually all predominantly Catholic cities in Germany [ or anywhere that enjoys a big party ], Karneval is most famous for taking place in Cologne. I briefly mentioned the celebrations and the preparations for the festival during my initial posts about Cologne when I was there in January, and when writing then, I really had no intentions of going back to Cologne, even if it was to join one of Europe's largest parties.

Sometimes however, things are a bit spontaneous, and a few friends and I decided to do what we did in Hamburg - i.e. skip the hassle of booking and paying for a Hostel, and pull the 24 hour trip. We found the Schöneswochenende ticket - A pass that allows 5 people within a certain zone to travel for 35 Euros all together as a group. For our hin-und-zurück, there and back, rendezvous we all spent less than 20 Euros - a steal when normal trains to Cologne would set us back easily 100 Euros.

Similar to my trip to Oktoberfest, I didn't have any set plans or expectations going to one of the largest public events in Germany [ let alone Europe! ]. I did know that over 1 million people would visit Cologne within the weekend, coming verkleidet in wigs and outlandish costumes, oftentimes genderbending, swilling Kölsch beer, and hearing the song "Viva Colonia" played at every bar and club throughout the city the entire festival.

Once we arrived in Cologne we were still "normal" dressed in our pedestrian clothes amongst crowds of people grouped together as animals, glitter and feather-boas, or even just flowing blond locks to go along with their handlebar mustaches. We had several hours to still send in the city, and first took a nice tour around checking out the Dom and made a trip over to the Schokolademuseum [which was unfortunately closed] before we dressed up to join in the million person party. The atmosphere was rowdy and loud, but it goes without comparison to see so many people in crazy costumes with the Cologne Cathedral and the Rhine river looming in the background of the sights.

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