Last weekend Sebastiaan and I took off for Cologne to celebrate the infamous ‘Carnival’ with two of our friends. I’d never been to Germany and had certainly never participated in Carnival (although there is a similar celebration in the south of Holland) needless to say, I had no idea what to expect. My friend, who happens to be German and very familiar with the whole tradition, simply told me to get a costume and prepare for a lot of beer drinking. DONE.
We left Amsterdam Friday evening after work and arrived just 2.5 hours later in Jülich (a small suburb of Cologne) where we spent the night with her family. As we crossed the border into Germany, I searched eagerly for some distinguishing features, something ‘ultra-German’ to give me the feeling that I was in fact in another country. I guess part of me expected to be welcomed by a cheery red-faced German man in lederhosen serving bratwurst and liters of beer. Unfortunately (for us all), this was not the case. The landscape remained flat (as a pannekoek) and the houses, although slightly larger, were still as cute and quaint as in Holland.
It wasn’t until the next day when we got off the train in Cologne that I felt I was really in Germany. In fact, the first thing we did was head to the nearest snack stand and order a round of bratwurst, followed promptly with some ice cold German brew. We headed to the nearest pub and enjoyed a beer while waiting in line to enter (I quickly learned that, in Germany, almost any situation calls for frothy beer). The pub was packed with costumed adorned guests, sloshing beer and singing cheerfully to festive carnival tunes (all of which began with some rendition of “La, Laa, Laaaa”).
After several hours of dancing, “singing” and beer drinking we decided it was time for some grub. We took a stroll around town and ended up at a brewery close to the famous, and incredibly beautiful, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. After some delicious schnitzel and fries we were stuffed and ready to call it a night.
The next day the carnival festivities continued with a parade in Jülich where, as is the tradition, members of the parade throw candy into crowds of costume wearing, screaming children. Although this would most definitely be a frightening situation in the States, it was actually really cute- I even caught a few pieces of candy for myself!
All in all it was a great weekend with fabulous friends; I’m already looking forward to next year! 🙂
More pics from our trip below! 🙂