Carnival: Day 1

I awoke on Sunday morning bright and early at 9:15. Buzzing, and ready to start the day, breakfast consisted of Bran Flakes accompanied by what would be the first of an unhealthily amount of beers consumed over the course of the proceeding 3 days.

Breakfast Whilst on Exchange

Breakfast Whilst on Exchange

Donning the cow onsie costume we made our way down to Vrijhof at 1pm to meet the ESN crew (Erasmus Student Network) and watch the opening parade. The blue morning sky had unfortunately turned to freezing sleet so it was lucky I happened to be wearing the warmest piece of clothing ever to be manufactured! The Dutch however, just like the Scots, are unfazed by poor weather and the show definitely went on. Float after float made their way along the streets of Maastricht, each with more colours than the rainbow, accompanied by traditional Dutch music, drummers, drunken conductors shouting into megaphones and a general fantastic atmosphere. All very enjoyable, but having stood there for 2 hours we were fresh out of alcohol. The pub was a waiting!

Some Home Comforts

Some Home Comforts

After a further 2 hour solid drinking session I refuelled myself with KFC and went back to Kevin’s with Ettiene to chill out for the afternoon and play some Super Smash Bros. on the N64, accompanied by a bottle of rum of course.

Darkness was soon upon us which meant pedalling half-cut back home, hosing down my dinner and then going back into town to continue the celebrations. Meeting up with Jaicy at 9pm we miraculously managed to find everyone else enjoying a street rave down by Markt Square, and of course were more than happy to join in the fun.

Two Aussies: Lyndon and Brendan were in the midst of backpacking around Europe and were staying in Volksplein whilst visiting friends in Maastricht. Having meant to take the train to Germany the day before, they were too hung-over to move so ended up staying for the whole of Carnival and not leaving until Tuesday Morning. Add in Adele, Renee, Steffi and a whole other bunch of people who said I met them but have no recollection of doing so: Carnage was about to start!

I've No Idea Who The Men In Yellow Are Either

I’ve No Idea Who The Men In Yellow Are Either

Now my knowledge of the nights proceedings from this time onwards are a little sketchy for obvious reasons, but having met with everyone for a hang-over breakfast the next day (and piecing together everything we could remember) this is a reasonably accurate account of what occurred:

We join the street party and 10 minutes later enter a pub, which a week later whilst writing this I still don’t know the name of. Lyndon comes over with 2 large shot glasses filled with a red coloured liquid. “Have a Fireman” he proclaims! Not wanting to know any more details about how he managed to order such a drink I give a toast and we sink them down the hatch. After much deliberation we conclude that it tastes like a mix of Strepsils Throat Sweets and mint – and that another round is necessary.

In between draining numerous more ‘Fireman’ I vaguely remember joining in an old peoples’ conga line out of the bar and back in, almost tripping over a drunken 8 year old kid, and receiving more change for 2 drinks than I had handed over – free beer, who’s going to complain?

So engrossed in this new drink we had discovered, and now feeling the effects of it, we realised that everyone else had vanished. Taking another one for the road we have yet another toast in the middle of the street before smashing the shot glasses against then nearest bike rack for no apparent reason. It must have looked at us in a funny manner!

Me: “Left or Right”

Lyndon “Definitely left”

We waded our way through the crowd, still raving to a haggard old jukebox in the middle of the street, and up to Markt Square. Using military espionage tactics we tried to find the highest point around to get the best view of where everyone might be – this happened to be a statue with loads of girls dancing on it. Jumping up we put our dance moves on and start chatting. There was a wreath on top of the statue decorated with leaves and fruit. What would any normal person do? You guessed it! I try to feed them some lettuce:

Me: “Where’s the best bar around here?”

Girl: “I don’t know”

Me (Angrily): “Why not!”

Girl: “I’m only 16”

Me: “Goodbye”

Running away we make our way back to Vrijhof we enter the first bar I see.

Me: “2 shots of the strongest drink you have please”

Barwoman: “You do know that’s Red Label Whiskey?

Me: “Perfect! How much do I owe you?”

This choice of drink did not impress Lyndon in the slightest…..

Turning on our heels we find the rest of the group (now accompanied by an American contingent) dancing around an all-white sausage cart which had two large speakers attached, was accompanied by dancers, also head-to-toe in white, and had am in-house DJ. Across the side of the parasol was written:

"Sensation"

“Sensation”

In the words of Cooper Harris: This was definitely where I’d parked my car! Now I can only assume that it was one of the few remaining floats from the carnival but nonetheless they seemed happy to have drawn a crowd. We followed the cart everywhere it went, dancing alongside and singing word-for-word every song the DJ played from his Generation 2 I-pod Nano. Turning round at midnight, exhausted and with the float owners starting to get slightly agitated with us, we looked to see the vast distance we had travelled – a whole 150m from across the other side of the square! I suppose time really does fly when you’re having fun!

When the float dancers started to dismantle the cart we took it as our cue to leave, which obviously meant finding the nearest bar. With Maastricht having the statistic of encasing ‘more bars per square mile than any other city in Europe’ – this was not too difficult. Rounds of Tequila Slammers please Barkeep.

Now by this point I have been drinking for going on 12 hours straight and had eaten little in the way of food. Hunger gets the better of me and I stray away to get some Kassouflet. I get lost!

Piggy Back Gone Wrong

Piggy Back Gone Wrong

With no-one else in a state to operate their mobile phones, I call Pavel. He answers. Meeting up with him we surge round every bar at the Markt, introducing myself to anyone I can find and genuinely just being a nuisance to society. A girl approaches me and claims she likes my hair and then proceeds to full on bite my nose!

Me: “Eh Sorry? Are you a special?”

Her: “…..”

Me: “I’m going to take that as a ‘Yes’”

It is now 2am and I need to dance more. We march onwards to the only club in Maastricht: The pig-sty shit-tip that is…… Alla!

From this point on I am blootered and nothing of much interest occurs.  We dance, I meet someone from Wales and have a go at them for beating us in the rugby, I make more friends who’s names I don’t remember. We stay for half an hour tops before returning home.

Despite raping my wallet of any cash I had left Carnival had definitely been a success so far.

And that was only Day 1!

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