The pre-Lent celebration Carnivale seriously kicked off last night: the streets were filling with people dressed as pirates and princesses by early afternoon, streaming across the Stone Bridge in their green, yellow, and red finery. The bands were playing at sunset, brass marching bands and pop-happy records seemed to dominate. We all ventured over about 9 to do a circuit of the Old Town center.
The dominant themes are crowds, music, and beer. Lots of dancing outside the bars, highlighted in blaring lights from inside. The occasional cross-dressed bands were roving the streets with horns and drums, most likely bankers and lawyers at any other time. Oliebollen stands returned, along with hamburger, sausage, and frites (French fries in a paper cone slathered with mayonnaise).
Beer was sold from small vans and windows next to the bars, about a euro for a small glass with a big head. Remarkably, it is all served in glasses rather than plastic cups, so there are empties everywhere, inches deep along window ledges and drifted into corners.
‘and this is just the warm-up…the party shifts into serious gear tonight and the official ceremonies are Sunday morning. It’s a bit like having New Orleans at my doorstep for a few days.