We woke on Sunday morning with a gleam in our eye: it was Carnival Day! You know how Germany is known for Oktoberfest (in Munich), or Volksfest (in Stuttgart) that happen around October? Well apparently, that’s just the start. There are also “Frühlingsfests”, which means “Springfest”, and they seem to take about the same format as the Fall carnivals. Though maybe there are a few less beer tents in the Spring version.
On the way, people who were clearly going to the carnival were getting on the train; girls dressed in traditional German dresses, and boys dressed in traditional lederhose. The girls were all cute. I’m going to get one of those dresses for Alissa. She’ll like that. Lederhose, on the other hand, are meant to look ridiculous. They are made of leather, and come with suspenders and a little … chest piece thing, to keep the suspenders from falling off, I suppose. And they have a strange flap of leather at the crotch, which makes it hard not to stare at men’s crotches. But since a shocking percentage of men wear these things, it makes you feel like perhaps you too, should be wearing them. Or at least some suspenders, for goodness sake! I can tell you right now, I’m not going back unless I’m sporting a pair of suspenders, and a checkered shirt. Because the shirt was the other part of the outfit that everyone agreed on. Red was the most popular, but I saw some other colors as well.
When our train reached the transfer point, we got off with everyone, and waited for our connection. A completely different train arrived, and everybody got on! Why is everybody getting on the wrong train? No time to think! Get on!
Turns out, the train reached the carnival just fine. We got off and wandered.
After a full loop, we didn’t see a beer tent. We saw some tents that looked right, but couldn’t find our way to the entrance. So we walked through the gigantic parking lot, hoping that the beer had been separated from the kids rides.
It was not.
So maybe we got off at the wrong stop. The best thing to do, then, is to head to the nearest U-bahn, and get off at the stop we originally intended. After many hours of walking in the wrong direction, we finally spotted a station, and headed back towards the city center. Two stops later, we transferred to a new train, and ended up in an area that looked pretty promising because many of the people in the crowd looked to be our age.
When we walked down the street and turned the corner, we walked smack into the exact same festival we had been at before. The festival apparently spans two or three subway stops, on two different lines. This time, however, we could see a beer tent. We walked directly there.
The atmosphere is one of loud singing and dancing. People get up on the tables and jump and stomp, bringing the very lightly reinforced benches to bend dangerously. I’ve never seen one break, but I constantly expect it to. The band sung mostly German songs, but threw in some classic American versions of “Sweet Caroline” and “Three Little Birds”. Every 15 minutes or so, they sang what I can only describe as “the cheers song”, where everyone yells “prost!” at each other and holds up their gigantic beer mugs.
And so we sang, drank a liter of beer each, and ate. We both had Leberknödel; Alissa’s was in dumpling soup form, and mine came with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with gravy. Pretty darn good.
After Alissa got drunk, I carried her home. It was a pretty great day.