Post image for Berlin 2011:  Carnival of Cultures

Berlin 2011: Carnival of Cultures

by John Mensinger on July 28, 2011

Berlin has many festivals and special events. June is a busy month with one or more unique activities each weekend. Our family enjoyed the Carnival of Cultures in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg. This celebration draws over 500,000 people with outdoor music, food and drink vendors, and a parade with over 100 diverse cultural groups. The parade route is a few kilometers long and is thronged with tens of thousands of spectators. Trains run on time in Germany but the parade was more Latin in spirit, with two or three groups of dancers passing by followed by nothing for ten minutes. A typical entry would be Brazilian dancers, handsome young men and lovely young ladies wearing scanty sequined costumes, doing the Samba to recorded music. They would be followed by a number of spectators gyrating to the music or just walking along, drinking their beer, and enjoying the scene. Here is a gallery of photos.
My viewing strategy was to start at the end of the parade and walk towards the beginning. Even though sober I couldn’t resist being excited and intoxicated by the music, the dancing, and the energy of thousands of people having fun. It is rare at my age to wear a continuous grin for two hours. When I decided to leave I ducked into a U-Bahn station and was home in less than 30 minutes.
One advantage of house swapping is the support you receive from your home exchange family and their friends. The older son of our German partners, who lived in another city, didn’t go to California. He and his girlfriend kindly took my two daughters to the Carnival. They had a good time, following a techno band in the parade, stopping for a drink and a meal, and just hanging out until the wee hours of the morning.
Two techno bands in the parade had several hundred rabid supporters following them in a happy mood with the discipline and pace of a stampede. Since I was walking against the parade route I was almost run over. I ducked behind a tree and was saved. My daughters saw me but didn’t have time to say hello as they were in the group of enraptured techno zombies. My 16 year old daughter said this was our best ever home exchange.



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