Karneval’s Toll

The official start to Karneval is 11:11, on the morning of 11Nov, but the drinking began much earlier than that.  Celebrants in costumes ranging from interesting (a giraffe) to ridiculous (smurfs, and fire hydrants) piled out of the subways and marched across the Roncalli Platz to find a brew–a morning elixir to make their dreams come true.

But this tangible inebriation came not without a price, and the Altmarkt (Old market) stood as a beer-soaked ruin.

Smurf
These smurfs were pathetic in blue-face.  Fellow partiers in black-face were inappropriate.

The funny thing about witnessing Karneval was probably that yesterday’s craziness was not the “real” party at all, according to locals.  It was “harmless.”  But the celebration was literally a city-wide party in the streets.

Beer flowed from every bar, cart, or vender who could find a place.  Over-priced bratwurst grilled on every corner.  At the Altmarkt people were packed in like sardines, singing traditional Kölner songs while steadily losing their sobriety before lunchtime…many, in fact, “lost their lunch” in the process.

Piles of broken glass grew higher as the day dragged on.  By 1pm I couldn’t step through the cobble-stone streets without nearly tripping on bottles, backpacks, or unidentified objects.  Porta-potties were plentiful, though many folks found doorways, or sidewalks just as convenient.

America
Captains America trying to break into a porta-potty.

Police adorned most street-corners, which was at least somewhat comforting.  Interesting enough I witnessed a man dressed as a lion taken down by four officers, and then dragged along the sidewalk with his hands clasped with plastic ties.  Other officers were shaking down by-standers to have pictures of the event deleted.  Most folks were drunk, and didn’t make a fuss about the police request.

With as much chaos as there was, by today, most evidence of the 11.11 celebration was gone.  The city employed great resources at great cost to beautify the city after the event.

Great
Don’t party too hard…or you will get a taste of law and order.

As Germany remains a staunch supporter and advocate for renewable energy, and action to combat climate change, I wonder why the activism goes out the window on 11.11.  Many folks just threw garbage on the ground, and one guy even looked into a garbage can and removed a piece of trash to throw it on the ground and laugh.  Convictions can be suspended for one day, right…as long as beer is involved, and the US could maybe possibly endorse something at the Copenhagen climate talks.  Or not.

This morning though the trash was gone, and the hangovers were plentiful, and the Roncalli Platz was preparing for the next party: Christmas.  The small Weihnachtsmärkte are already being constructed, making way for the season’s most dangerous brew: Glühwein.

And what better a time to suspend convictions once again than Christmas, right?  I sure hope not.

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