When I moved to France, I entered into a newlywed ideology that this move would be like a honeymoon. I was in a foreign place, new to the customs and language, but felt free to explore and be adventurous. I’m sure this can be relatable for many in any form of a life change like moving anywhere, starting a new job, actually getting married, or having kids.
Within a year of having accessibility to travel within Europe, I visited 8 countries and luckily for me it was overwhelmingly for leisure including snowboarding, running, rest and relaxation along with tourism. Even where I have established my new home, I would ride my bike, take a bus or train to neighbor villages or cities. This curiousness and willingness to take in new sights and sounds even surprised my boyfriend, Julien, the native French national who has expressed I probably have seen and know more about France or Luxembourg than him.
Although I love traveling and consider myself an interested wanderer, I was fearing that I was becoming a bit too comfortable and not having a need to travel. I mean, I was starting to make a life for myself here and having started French classes (yesterday), I was starting to get into a routine of doing everyday tasks. The excitement of travel seemed to be taking a backseat as I was starting to get accustomed to the architecture and history surrounding me and all of it was starting to feel less novel to me. So even on my days off, when I should still want to be out touring new towns, I occasionally slacked because I felt, “Hey, what’s one more building to see?”
A couple days ago I thought to myself, “Get over yourself”. So I visited Saarbrucken, Germany an hour train ride away. I had been before for a day trip to go shopping before Christmas in 2015 as Germany is known for being notoriously cheaper than it’s neighboring countries. This time I went to Germany to experience the hype of the Karneval or Fasching, which is a long weekend party where everyone gets dressed in costumes and watch parades, and has plenty of booze before Lent comes and you have to behave. Widely celebrated in Cologne but also around most of Germany and Belgium, the Karneval is celebrated but it winds down after the Rosenmontag, the Monday following the festivals. Some cities actually designate it as a holiday but for most, it’s not however, most towns recognize it and give acceptance to miss school or work. This is typically the last day of dressing up and drinking, you know, to cure the hangover of the weekend.
I showed up to Saarbrucken around lunchtime not sure what I was expecting. In fact, I was only informed about the Karneval through events on Facebook and not even from anyone who actually celebrates it. I had done most of the research on my own regarding the Karneval on the internet. I got out of the train station to a big pedestrian walkway, lined with shops and restaurants, and immediately saw college-age kids in Pokemon and unicorn onesies and I thought to myself, “I’m in the right place”. There were no parades going on specifically here but I had read of a couple of towns nearby that was having them. I decided to stay within Saarbrucken and take in the city a bit more than some shops I had seen last time I was there. There is a river that parallels the pedestrian path and brings you towards the town hall and a couple of churches and open markets. Once I made my way through the quiet alleys and realized most of the shops were indeed closed for the non-official holiday, I decided to make my way over to a couple of bars that were playing loud German 80’s pop music surrounding the Schnokeloch St. Johanner Markt.
Inside came all the glory, color, dancing, and happiness of the perceived Karneval Rosemontag. People were dressed as hippies, clowns, Super Mario characters, cats, military pilots, fitness instructors, and of course, there was a Donald Trump. I felt mystified and in awe on this Monday afternoon party. The place was decorated in streamers and balloons. The music was pumping and the people were all in a good mood, despite hangovers, but seemingly possible because they just happened to be drunk all over again. Beers and Champagne were flowing and ridiculously cheap. I made conversations with a few of the locals that spoke English and enjoyed my afternoon, taking in the sights and sounds that I brazenly thought I was too experienced in European culture to venture out to see. I patted myself on the back for being brave enough to leave the comforts of Metz and experience the culture of this bizarre yet awesomely fun party.
My advice is pure to me…Don’t become complacent.