‘Kölle Alaaf!’ was something I said a lot of times this weekend, especially on Monday. The phrase is actually in the Kölsch dialect (the dialect in Cologne) and roughly translates in English to ‘Cologne above all’! Germans tend to like to do this, I’ve found – they like seeing their dialects, not just speaking it. It’s a little like me writing, for example, ‘Aye, int owt betteh than Yorkshire’, which, as I’m sure you’d agree, does look weird. But the Germans do it regardless, and it’s one of my favourite things about the language, even though Hochdeutsch (German version of Queen’s English) is spoken in Hannover.
Anyway, back out of language geek-mode. This weekend I went to Cologne to celebrate Karneval. As you may remember, I was in Cologne back in November, too, to celebrate the opening of Karneval (can be seen on this post towards the bottom!), but though the opening is in November (for reasons I’m still unaware of), there’s a 3-month wait and the fun really kicks in at the start of February.
On the Saturday, myself and Shane headed out with Kölsch stacked in our bags ready to drink on the streets, just like we did back in November. However, it turned out that not a great deal was going on, so after meeting with a few other language assistants, we stayed at one of their places for a few hours and followed that by a club, where you had to spend at least 5€ to be let out which you had marked on a piece of card. And if you lost your card, you had to pay 50€. ‘Ouch’ is what I thought, too. The music was actually pretty good though, and played some 90s tunes which took us all back. And with Kölsch for 1€ for two hours, what’s not to like?
Sunday was a lazy/tomcat day (the German word for tomcat, ‘Kater’, being what the Germans use for ‘hangover’), and then the fun truly started on Monday – Rosenmontag. We headed back into the heart of Cologne, this time to Neumarkt, where we stood in the cold for 2 hours ready for the parades which were about to come bursting through the streets. The 2 hours were worth it, and the parades were absolutely fantastic. There was such a massive variety of floats and music. I was told beforehand the people in the parades also throw sweets, teddies, flowers, and other fun things out into the crowds, by which I thought ‘Well, I’ll maybe catch a few things then, as I imagine there’ll be a health and safety thing etc. etc.’ – as you can probably guess with this build up, I was wrong.
There were hundreds of chocolate and things being thrown at us, from chocolate bars and gummy sweets, to flowers and teddies, and even the occasional ‘Bag for Life’ kind of bags, probably so we can use them to store even more treats! I got hit on the head a few times, and the paraders really didn’t care about lobbing big things into the crowd, such as oranges which smacked a man on the head in front of me (which was admittedly quite funny because he’d been annoying and kept falling back on me every now and then). It’s pretty hard to go and explain how exciting the whole thing was, so instead I’m going to link you to a video I uploaded on my Facebook (don’t worry, it’s set so anybody can see it, so you can see if even if you’re not a Facebook friend of mine)! The video consists of a few little clips I took throughout of the musical parts. There aren’t any videos of the floats because I was too busy trying to catch things when they were going by with people on top of them throwing stuff! I’ll also put a bunch of photos of the floats, too, just so you can get a taster of a lot of things we saw!
Rosenmontag was definitely my favourite part of the whole of Karneval, and it was also quite possibly better than Oktoberfest in Munich. We werestood watching the parade go past for a good 3-4 hours, and we didn’t even see all of it as I had to catch a train back to Hannover! It was fantastic, and I’d definitely go again if I had the chance.
I’ll leave you with a few photos of the some of the amazing floats we saw…
Pretty impressive, huh?