Friday, January 29, 2010

Der Kölner Dom, Kölnisch Wasser, Karneval pt.2

[ The Cologne Cathedral, Eau de Cologne and Carneval pt.2 ]

As the infused scents of sweet citrus balanced by a bit of lavender floral accents wafted towards our senses, we had just sampled possibly one of the most well known perfumes in the world. Eau de Cologne, the first mass produced perfume of its kind, [ France and other European communities had a long tradition of personalized perfumes to cover up - well, their distinct personal fragrance due to fearing water and therefore only bathing twice a year ] is now seen at almost every corner in Cologne, from tourist shops, to luxury gift boxes at department stores. I must admit, that aside from hearing this term "Eau de Cologne" my whole life, I didn't make the connection before I was traveling to Cologne for my mid year seminar that this creation is what penned the name in our vocabularies.


On our tour, we witnessed important roman style remains from the initial Cologne civilizations, to government buildings that have partly survived the war and now bear example to a mixture of old and new, even Früh - the second largest Brauhaus restaraunt/brewery in Germany [after the Hofbräuhaus in Munich that I was very lucky to visit with Ciocia Zosia during the packed Oktoberfest season]. On one rather quiet corner, nestled across the street from an equally intricate, yet, modest art museum, was the perfume shop that started it all Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz - Literally, Johann Maria Farina opposite from Juelich's square. This little shop had the original Eau de Cologne fragrance - the others around town were mimics [dare I say that I enjoyed the more citrus scent of the "fake" better than the overwhelmingly floral fragrance of Farina gegenüber ... ]. Even so, the shop was, literally, a cornerstone in commercial history in Europe and was very interesting to witness.




Observing the other cobblestone streets, it is impossible to not notice large pillars with striped red and white ribbons, often with clowns adorning them as decoration. These are large - sometimes gaudy - decorations for the upcoming Karneval season in Cologne. Being in one of the Catholic regions of Germany, the festivities of Carneval [celebrated as Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras in other parts of the world] is one of the biggest celebrations in all of Europe, taking place in Cologne and surrounding cities. The huge festival contains big, raucous parties, lots of very elaborate costumes, and some traditions that go back many, many years [ the princess of Karneval... is a man?] Maybe it is something that I will be able to come back and visit with friends, but for the time being on the tour, it was neat to imagine what the streets would be like with over 2 million clustering for the famous Rose Monday events.



The seminar week in Cologne was filled with many interesting cultural events in Cologne, but also many opportunities to evaluate our year thus far in the CBYX program, preparing for our internship phase coming up in just mere weeks, as well as many discussions delving deeper into the meanings of German culture, political thought, and most importantly the people. There was definitely a lack of sleep - something that crept up on me during my week long event of cramming final Uni papers [ somethings might never change, even on the other side of the world...] - but the seminar week was very informational, and a bit of a break to speak some English in between seminars in German [ making me surprise myself a little, that after almost 6 months, and a semester in German university, I can follow with acceptable understanding pretty in depth lectures and discussions all in German ].

One of the exciting parts of the week for me was visiting the InWEnt offices in Bonn. There we met the program leaders that advise us through this year, and we also had a talk from an actual United Nations representative from the Millennium project to discuss the goals of eliminated poverty in third world countries by 2020. This was the perfect segway to an entire hour dedicated to the 5 of us PPPler that spent a week in Bonn participating in the Bonn International United Nations Conference. There was so much to share, from my views and experiences representing Germany, to the complex issues of creating fair resolutions, but regardless, it was exciting to present in front of my peers and share some of the unique opportunities that I have also had this year.

[ Another very unique tradition in Cologne. The bridge over the Rhein, that gives a fantastic view to the illuminated Dom at night, is lined with thousands of padlocks, often engraved with initials, of lovers or married couples that lock their love forever and throw the key into the river below ]



Cologne was a very beautiful city - the images of the Dom and the scent of the Eau de Cologne will resonate with me for quite a while - but for now, I am back in Göttingen, anxiously trying to complete papers, preparation for upcoming tests, as well as many ideas I have for the blog that I have backlogging on me. That is to say that I want to complete all of this before my own Praktikum job starts as well in just days now ticking down!