After returning from Spain, April has been pretty quiet. Which is good, because I have something planned for every weekend in May (and parts of June) so my bank account really needed a chance to get prepared for the onslaught of trips and visitors.
That’s not to say that I haven’t been busy.
I’ve spent every Sunday on a hike with my walking team. We’re training for a 100K charity walk this September. So far, the furthest we’ve walked is 17K so… we have a bit more training yet to do.
I saw one of my favorite bands in concert. There is nothing better in this world than singing along to your favorite songs, live, with the actual people who made them famous.
Kedar and I went to this little Volksfest near his apartment. I got my favorite German festival food, fried cauliflower with garlic sauce, and I won some pom-poms for hitting a few balloons with darts.
My friend Maren came to visit on one of the most beautiful weekends so far this year. We wandered around the city during the day, and spent the night coming up with excuses to not perform at Karaoke night.
Had my first meal on my balcony of the year, and introduced cabbage to my diet (totally in love with Asian-inspired cabbage salads these days, and even made it into filling for Vietnamese spring rolls last night!)
I am crazy jazzed for May and all the cool things I have planned, but April has been pretty great too!
It’s nearly impossible for me to adequately describe Karneval to someone who has never experienced it.
I could say that nearly everyone in the city dresses in costume Thursday through Tuesday. Which is true. My favorite thing is seeing someone’s 80+ year old Opa wearing a red sponge clown nose, or a granny with her hair spiked and dyed Cologne red.
Or that there are parties (OH ARE THERE PARTIES) where they play seemingly the same fifteen songs over and over again but it just doesn’t matter. There is something about Karneval music that warms my heart and makes me jump around like a fool and sway with the rest of them, regardless of the fact that I rarely know any of the words.
But in the end, it’s the atmosphere that really makes it. The smile that creeps across my face anytime I see a man dressed as a woman (why this is such a popular costume, I have no idea), random shouts of “Alaaf!” during those six glorious days, the weird traditions that I do not understand (even when they are explained to me) and all the ‘new friends’ that are made, only to be forgotten by the next day.
It’s this time of year that makes me feel like I never want to leave Cologne. (Give it a few weeks, my mind will change… it always does!)
(I made those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes myself. I’m awesome, I know)
When I think about moving, I’m not quite sure how I’ll live in a city that doesn’t take a few days out of every year to dress in costumes, sing silly songs and day-drink.
feathers, spandex, prepped liver… tomorrow is Karneval.
8:00am – An anonymous human rings my doorbell no less than 5 times. I am wrenched from my slumber.
9:00am – I am on a train, decked in my finest Saturday attire on my way to the Gebrauchtfahrradmarkt
9:30am – I am the owner of a bicycle!
10:00am – basket and lock for bike purchased
11:00am – basket and lock for bike installed
12:00pm – a stroll across the street leads me to a street fair. sights and smells abound, including two separate types of fish worth photographing: Flammlachs (grilled salmon?) and … unknown hanging fishes.
12:30pm – I stop in at an Optik store. After an exam with a woman whose English is as good as my German, I anxiously await the arrival of my contact lenses in about a week!
(Well this is just a pic of me not wearing my glasses… preview of what’s to come!)
1:00pm – I fall in love with this jacket, but decide to sleep on its purchase. I think I might have to go with the red one, I look a bit like the Gorton’s Fisherman here…
2:30pm – I walk past a bakery. The baguettes are strangely prepared for Oktoberfest. (Shouldn’t it be the pretzels who are ready for the occasion?)
3:30pm – I schlep myself to to the grocery store to prepare for the Chicken Parm I have promised to cook tomorrow. Christmas cookies are already on the shelves. Determine that we are having Turkey Parm tomorrow because turkey cutlets are on sale.
4:00pm – I spend the rest of the day cleaning my apartment and watching movies.
Leg One of Spring Break: Karneval in Köln
With a veritable zoo (plus a few foods and other costumes) we headed to Cologne for 2 days of Karneval celebrations.
A few bloody faces, lost costume parts, and a ‘borrowed’ Lara Croft arm rounded out a weekend that included both memories I will never forget and ones I’ll never remember.