After Frankfurt, I took a quick one day trip to Mainz to catch up with a friend who lives nearby. The train ride was about 40 minutes from Gross Karben, and because of the “season,” I had to stand for most of it.
I mention “season” because the Germans (read: Rhinelanders) have a festival called Karneval, which has been described as the “fifth season.” For those that aren’t familiar, Karneval consists of: 1) Drinking beer — lots of it; and 2) Dressing up in costumes and cheering for Köln (Yes, they did this even in Mainz.) The festival season stretches for a while, but the bulk of the partying covers (only) a few consecutive days. [Edit: Ok technically, they’re supposed to cheer for their own city, I suppose, but some traditional songs only mention Colonia Agrippina – the original Roman name of Köln]
First up, we did a quick walking tour of Mainz in the snow along the Rhein, which despite the fact that “it’s just a river,” was quite nice. We passed several old buildings – the Rathaus if I recall correctly – and then made our way into the centre of town where a Karneval celebration was taking place.
After winding our way through the Gutenberg museums and statues, we came to the fairground. More food stalls than you can poke a stick at, and strange Carnies all over the place, all overlooked by an old church. I had some Glühwein, a sugared red wine served hot like tea. It wasn’t the weirdest thing I’ve ever drank, but it’s on the scoreboard.
We went to a Karneval party in a club, which consisted of basically the same thing as it did during the day – beer and costumes. There was a pair of party-goers dressed so convincingly like pilots, I was sure they had beaten up some people for their uniforms. Also on the subject of drinks: Becks Gold, Becks Green and Lemon – you disappoint me. However, good old Becks Pils was just as good as it is back home. Actually, better – it’s bigger.
Considering most people are drinking ALL DAY during Karneval, the crowd is surprisingly well-behaved. I generally see a handful of fights in similar Sydneyside mashups like this.
Highlight: Having a drunk guy in surgical scrubs ask me if I liked the “arsch und titten” while watching the Brazilian Karneval dancers at the club.