Saturday, March 10, 2012

Carnival in the South, minus the beads!

Elliot and I had this trip planned to Maastricht, the southern most city in Holland that borders Germany and Belgium, and hadn't realized at first that our overnight would coincide with Carnival--of all festivals!

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It was a lovely 3-hour train ride and before we knew it, we were in Maastricht. This city is in the Dutch state of Limburg. It's known for its regional cuisine, many churches, and its quaint riverside city center.  The people also speak a very different Dutch than in Rotterdam, in fact a whole different dialect. I couldn't understand a word they said!

After checking in to our adorable 'bed & bike' (no breakfast, just bikes), we biked to the center to do a little site-seeing and scope out the start of Carnival. Actually, the official start time of the 3-day party was 11am the next morning, but the town was already packed with party-goers. Tons of people were out and about, making last minute purchases for their costumes and for stocking up their fridges. We biked around a bit, saw a few nice churches, the 13th century wall around the city, and then we found a really cozy bar called Zondag (Sunday) and enjoyed a few biertjes (small beers) of local brew. Ready for some food, we found a cute restaurant serving traditional Mestreech cuisine. Elliot had rabbit stew and I had salmon in a creamy sauce. Later that evening, we really enjoyed people watching on the Vrijtof, the main square. Super duper silly-looking people. The best part about Carnival, so far, was that it wasn't about beads, dressing super slutty, or getting completely wasted. Everyone, kids and grammas alike, were dressed up super silly and just out on the streets to have a good time. 

The next morning, we wandered back to the Vrijtof, the main square where Carnival was officially starting. The prince of Carnival spoke to the people and then his men fired off the cannon eleven times, once per minute for eleven minutes. Or something like that. All the meanwhile, people were (of course) dressed up super silly. It's not like people 'were something' - like in American halloween. They just found all the most random items and somehow attached every piece to their bodies. We explored the city more, until it started raining. And then the parade started! Oh geez. It was a mess. We finally made our back to the train station and just in time for the madness to begin. My favorite is a three-way tie between the drag ladies with curlers, the rangers on ostriches, and the viking family...

I can only begin to wonder what the next three nights did to that city...

1 comment:

  1. Imagine away...after these ingenious shots.....I can only picture MAYHEM!
    How much fun was that? Nothing like being at the right place at the right time.


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