"Wieber Fast Nacht"

Trip Start Oct 25, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In my first blog about Karneval here in Cologne, I talked about the Karneval we experienced on November 11 as being the "Prelude to the Main Event". How it was only the beginning, a mere taste, of the BIG celebration yet to come. In the days and weeks approaching the real Karneval, we knew that we were in for something much bigger than either one of us could ever anticipate and today was the start of it all...
As tradition goes, Karneval begins every year 46 days before Easter. The first day of the celebration begins with "Wieber Fast Nacht" which translated means, "Women's Fasting Night". On this day, the city of Cologne belongs to the women. They are allowed to do whatever they want and the men can do nothing about it! Anything goes...

Typically the women dress up in costumes and head to "Altstadt" (which is the area of Cologne where most of the bars and pubs are located). They gather in groups and begin partying into all hours of the night. Men are at the mercy of women on this day but of course you don't see many of them complaining. After all, it is not uncommon for them to be kissed randomly for no reason other than the women "just can"!

When this day of Karneval kicked off on Thursday, January 31st at 11:11 a.m., I first told Steve that I wasn't going to go. I was afraid to emerse myself in a city of chaos not knowing what to expect. I would have much rather waited to go with him later in the day. But because it was a day dedicated just for the ladies, he encouraged me to go. He said, "This is a once in a lifetime experience and you should at least go into the city to see what it's all about it. If you don't want to stay, just take some pictures and come back home."

So with reservations, I put on my costume and walked to the train stop down the street. I felt so conspicuous because no one else seemed to be wearing one. And THEN I got on the train. I felt like stepped into another world...it was sheer madness! There were people wearing costumes everywhere and the train was so packed full of people, that I could barely squeeze myself on. Loud music was blaring, everyone was drinking, and the best part about it...the women were in control!

When I finally stepped off the train in Alstadt, I was literally pushed outside of the doors. I made it safely outside only to find myself in the midst of a mob. There were people in costumes everywhere I turned and I could barely walk without tripping over the person next to me. I finally escaped to an area where I could breathe and I took my camera out and started taking some pictures.

One of the first things I noticed was how many men there were. Don't get me wrong...I was pleasantly surprised to say the least! But I was certainly not expecting to see as many men as there were women. And then I thought about it...if women were out to "be free" so to speak, then why wouldn't the guys be there to take advantage of their "freedom". With that it mind, "Women's Day Out" took on a whole new meaning!

As I walked around taking pictures, I discovered a strange irony of sorts. Since Steve and I have been in Germany, I have not seen any good-looking German men. I hate to say it, but they are all ugly here. Well, today they must have arrived on a train from some other country because there were hot guys everywhere I looked!

I spent a couple of hours in Alstadt participating in this German tradition before things started getting too crazy. When a drunk German guy grabbed my butt and I had to fight the urge to punch him in the face, I knew it was time to leave! On my way back to the train, I saw very few women on the streets. It was really cold outside and the bars must have known that women have a low tolerance for cold weather because they had specials for women everywhere...Pay 3EU get two drinks free, Women get in free - men pay 5EU.

By the time I got back to the apartment, I was relieved. I had a great time and took a lot of interesting pictures but I think I would have had much more fun if Steve would have been with me. I'm glad that they have a special day here set aside just for the Ladies during Karneval but I'm curious, when all is said and done...who really benefits more from this day of "Women's Liberation"...the women or the men?
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