Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I have some photos but for some reason, Blogger will not let me upload them (I've tried 3 times on 2 seperate days at this point) The big Karneval (think Mardi Gras) parade in Braunschweig was last Sunday. Our day was planned, we were set to go to church at 10:30 and then head towards the the begining of the parade route. Everything changed when we got to church and realized mass was actually at 11:30 oops! So we decided the best way to pass the time was to find a coffee shop and drink a coffee as we had an hour. As we walked towards the center of town we started seeing people with a bit of a Karneval flair, costumes, painted faces and hair. Then we saw a small group of teenaged boys lighting off small bomb type fireworks, our attention was directed toward them as they yelled bomb and scattered off. Soon they were throwing fireworks at each other (Luke- aparently this is not only a Bolivian thing) and running a muck. We stayed out of their way. Somehow, throwing fireworks never seemed like a friendly gesture when I was a kid but they laughed at it. We stopped in my favorite Italian Eiscafe for a coffee but I quickly changed my mind and ordered an Eis, 2 scoops in a waffle cone; 1 Hazelnut and 1 Tieramsu, the latter being much tastier. I have learned that while I prefer Gilato to American ice cream (mostly for its softer consistency) cones here can't hold a candle to Brickley's waffle cone. I decided ice cream at 10:45am was appropriate as it was, after all, Karneval! As we walked around on our journey to kill time we stumbled across the begining of the parade route...right in front of my bank. Music was playing and people were already gathering and waiting for the parade to start at 12:30. We staked out a good spot, bought some beer (at 11am yikes!) and decided to stay for the parade. We will go to church next week. As I looked around, I felt ill prepared. It seemed that everyone had a back pack containging some kind of alcohol and some type of costume. My favorite costumes were a group of women each dressed as a slice of cake complete with red wigs (cherries), a cadle and a champagne glass holder in their 3D sandwichboard style cake. The extent of costumes on adults took me by suprise as my only other experience with Karneval was in Portugal in 2003 and there only children dressed in costume during the day, the adults saved their costumes for night time partying. Some popular costume themes included cross dressing group costumes, unaccompanied colored wigs and pirates. The music was dance type and techno but all upbeat. I learned that a German guy (not important enough for me to remember his name) actualy recorded the Pizza Hut song which I know as a camp song from TI...leave it to the Germans to think that is good music, it's right up there with the Hoff and Danny K. I seriously doubt German taste in music these days. The tradition is that one person yells Brunswick and the crowd yells back Hallu! One specific man dressed as an elderly woman took it upon himself to start this, the crow was somehow not impressed but he carried on. Another guy dressed as some German rock star began the cheer and the crowd responded much better. This cheer soon became important as all of the floats and groups marching in the parade also called out and in response to an enthusiastic crowd threw candy, cookies, waffles, chips and other assorted goodies. When I was told there would be candy thrown I thought it was for the children but no this was also for the adults. In fact the adults were so into it it was a bit pathetic. the guy next to me climbed through the fence on more than one occasion to retrieve what could only be considered crappy hard candy, you know the stuff you would be dissapointed to get for Halloween as a child. Now this was only the second parade I've ever been to in Europe (the first being St. Patrick's day in Ireland) but if I may generalize, European parades are looooooong. I've never made it to an end. We left after about 3 hours. As we walked away from our prime parade watching real estate I realized just how many people came oout for the event. Patrick said they expected 250,000 and I would believe it. It seemed like the whole route was at least 5-6 people deep on both sides of the street. Karneval is more popular in the south of Germany and Patrick, being a northerner, does not get excited about the celebration. This was his (and my) first Karneval Parade in the 5 years he has lived in BS ! I can't wait for next year when I will be completely in costume and well prepared if I am still in Germany!