Here in my area we have two of the German carnival capitols: Cologne and Duesseldorf. Carnival festivities take place in the public as well as in many indoor locations. Carnival season starts on November 11th and lasts until Ash Wednesday (the exact date differs each year, because carnival depends on Easter. On that day the Lenten season starts for 40 days ’til Easter)
How are these festivities related? The bible tells us the background.
Easter = resurrection = Jesus Christ rose from his grave
Good Friday = Jesus was nailed on the cross, died and was buried
This festivity is the most important celebration in Christian believes.
Because of Jesus himself lentened for 40 days to strengthen his own belief, there is a 40 day Lenten period.
The word ‘carnival’ has it’s origin in Latin: carne = meat + val = without. It marks the beginning of the 40 day Lenten period.
In medieval times, people started to celebrate before the Lenten period started and to use up nearly all of the food remaining from last year. So, these supplies were used for big festivities (also celebrating the end of the winter). During these days, the established hirachy were turned upside down: the fool became mayor and everyone masqueraded. For one of the days, the Thursday I mentioned in the first paragraph, even became power: they were allowed to reign for 1 day (Altweiber / Weiberfastnacht). All of these isn’t meant serious, but foolish, because everything is turned upside down.
The magic number of carnival is the 11, because you can turn it upside down and it’s still the same.
Over the centuries, carnival starts now on November 11th at 11:11. On that date, the indoor festivities start. These are meetings with a president, a meeting committee and lots of speeches (all funny but usually political). This type of carnival was a foolish reaction to the strict government by the Pruss and Napoleons France. The participants wear costumes inspired by official uniforms of that times soldiers, but with a funny skirt or flouncy sleeves. They also play special music. Often played by marching bands looking like they were kidnapped from the 17th century. Simple melodies and very foolish lyrics (easy to remember, even when drunk).
Starting from Altweiber, the carnival festivities encroach to the streets. Carnival music floods the streets and the radio stations. Carnival meetings are broadcasted by some TV stations. While you won’t remark all of this during winter, is nearly impossible to ignore it during the last week before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday).
Not everyone likes this!
One of my friends works in the middle of Cologne. Even during the days marking the summit of the carnival festivities (Thursday to Tuesday), when the silly music with their haunting melodies creating earworms to eat up the remains of your mind. Most of the businesses in areas with such a long tradition of celebrating carnival that intense, are closed for these days, because no customer would come, the employees won’t be usable (too tired and drunk) and drunk people probably would trash the unsecured rooms.
His company does not close, because they have also to support customers in areas, where carnival isn’t a topic at all. So, he goes on vacation. Some other friends of us, also working in similar areas, where they don’t have to work. My company office at that time was located in Duesseldorf, but a bit out of the center. So, I left the office always early to avoid encountering with drunk people.
Because all of this, he got the idea, to use these days for a short trip and our annual carnival escape was born.
Over the years we usually visited a famous city in the south, but also Berlin and London. Not everyone was able to take part in every trip. So you won’t find all of them here.
This time was different. Despite we were traveling south, we didn’t the reach the warmer mediterranean countries. Instead, we stopped in the Bavarian Alps for a hot-air balloon flight.
more of the wonderful birds of the Seychelles can be found here in my blog.
I picked a photos taken at the very early morning when the ancient Greek goddess Eos (or Aurora for the Romans) were about to climb over the horizon and break the path for her brother Helios (or Sol for the Romans).
The photo is taken at 4:17 in the morning from a flying balloon. We started at 2:30 in the morning and enjoyed a very remarkable flight and the sunrise. I’d recommend to everyone, to get up very early and go out somewhere at a lake, a shore, on a hill or a mountain with free sight to the east to experience a sunrise. It’s a really unforgettable impression.
Every action or event has its end. So, this flight also came to its end. We traveled about 4.5 hours and covered 163 km with an average speed of about 30 km driven only by the wind. According to my GPS our maximum height was 2,573 m. Stunning!
But, finally we had had to land again and were collected by a car to be brought back to our starting point.
As you might know, wind during the starting and the landing phases might endanger these phases. We landed right before the wind became too strong. Thus, we were landed smooth and save.
Enjoy the photos taken in this final phases of our flight and right after we landed. Maybe you might also have a look back to the other posts:
While flying with a plane is like driving with a bus, flying with a balloon is like riding a bike. Not only when comparing the speed or the amount of people traveling in the same time, but it’s …. more of a direct experience.
You can feel the temperature of the air. You can also feel the warmth of the sun on your skin or the moisture in the air, but no wind. It’s an incomparable experience.
Usually balloons start early in the morning or later in afternoon to avoid thermal winds, that might endanger or at least complicate the landing and the start. When taking a gas balloon you could even start in the early morning and land after sunset, to avoid such problems. Unfortunately gas balloons nowadays are filled with hydrogen again instead of helium, although there was the Zeppelin disaster in Lakehurst near New York back in Mai 1937. But unfortunately helium is too valuable and rare to use it for ballooning.