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Karneval in Trier

After a relaxing visit in Frankfort we headed to Gabi’s home town, and the oldest city in Germany, Trier. The train ride from Frankfurt to Koblenz (where we changed trains) made me feel like i was in a fairy tale. The houses on the Rhein were framed by rolling hills and punctuated with medieval castles on the hilltops.

I noticed we passed the town of Bingen, and I wondered if one of the old buildings was the site of Hildigard’s composing. ( Note to non-music majors: Hildigard von Bingen was one of the first composers to write down her compositions for posterity. She was also one of the earliest feminists in Western history.) I made a mental note to take a Rhein river cruise someday.

We’d planned our trip to correspond to Karneval in Trier, and our train got us there in time for a quick wurst at  Gasthaus Schütz (where we were staying) in Euren, West Trier, before the start of the local parade (or “Zug” auf Deutsch).

Colorful Karneval costumes in Trier

We watched the parade from Gertie’s front yard. She provided the beer and various friends brought the homemade pastries called “Maüse” (because they look like little mice). They’re basically giant yeast donut holes, and are incredibly delicious and addictive. Here’s Gabi eating one:

Gabi and a bucket of homemade Maüse

Gabi’s friend Marian had brought wigs for us, so we’d fit in. Here I am in mine- it’s almost what my natural color would be by now.

Marian’s husband Joseph was in the Zug with a group of friends who called themselves “Legomenschen” (people made of lego blocks). Here he is:

Most of the costumes were either mythical or historical. It wasn’t like an American Halloween, in which people try to be current and dress as politicians or celebrities.

The cutest costume was the Daddy giraffe with his dinosaur son:

People in the Zug threw candy at the onlookers while everyone shouted “Helau!” to each other. What does “helau’ mean, I asked Gabi. “It’s the Karneval call” was the only explanation I got, along with the fact that in Cologne they yell “Aloof” instead.

It was a bit chilly out (though we’d missed the bitter cold that had attacked Germany the week before), so after the Zug finished we went inside, where Gertie made great cappuccinos. Question: Does everyone in Germany have a cappuccino maker?

Later we gathered at Schütz for dinner, where the specialty is a half chicken that seems to have been deep fried whole.  I’d eaten so many Maüschen I had no appetite, so I just stuck to beer.

We shared our table with this nice older couple,

and checked out some more fun costumes:

Two of eight puzzle-piece costumes

There’s an absolutely vile apple schnapps that some men were drinking.  After trying it I stuck to beer.  I went to sleep at a reasonable hour, but Gabi went with her friends to another bar where there was dancing until the wee hours.

The next day we went downtown and did this all again at the main Zug in the city center.  A Roman soldier gave me a beer, a pirate gave me a rose, and a Druid gave me a kiss on both cheeks.  I collected lots of the candy that was thrown our way, figuring it would help me through the long train trip I was planning to Munich.

Roman centurians at Karneval

In keeping with Trier’s history as an ancient Roman city, Roman soldiers celebrate karneval.

After the downtown Zug finished everyone gathered in the Arena for more beer and the awarding of prizes.  Joseph and his Legomenschen won first prize!  He was a bit of a celebrity in Schütz that night, and we celebrated his victory with … more beer (and in Joseph’s case, schnaps).  A good time was had by all.  Marian and Joseph are coming to Antalya for a week in May.  What  can we possibly do to entertain them on a comparable scale?

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