Wednesday, 9 February 2005


The first weekend we were here was Karneval, one of the bigger festivals in this part of the world. They had parades in different cities on different days, so you could go on a parade-crawl if you wanted, though not many seemed to do this. There was even a parade which came through our small village (Selgersdorf, about 5km out of Jülich) on Monday (which was a holiday). A lot of people tend to get dressed up as if they were going to a fancy-dress party. Then you line the streets -- almost one deep in the case our of village -- and wait to enjoy the parade as it passes by. The parade throws out plenty of lollies and treats (including small toys) and so it very popular with the local children, who scramble around frenetically collect all and sundry. The neighbours had already advised the children to take large bags with which to collect the bounty. Needless to say, this was a good way for the children to help feel welcomed to their new home! In fact, for the couple of days we were here, the children were handed sweets by almost everyone we met, including a public servant at the local city utilities office. Perhaps they decided a place where they treat children in such a way isn't all that bad.

The day after the lolly-throwing parade we witnessed another tradition that goes along with Karneval. A number of townsfolk dressed up in, I suppose, traditional outfits which consisted of a fez (truncated conical hat with a tassel) and a matching brightly coloured silken shirt (bit like a jockey's colours). They go around the village carrying a circular sheet and an effigy and stop at pre-arranged locations. Oh they also have a small band as part of the entourage. Several of the people carry stick brooms, just like you would expect a stereotypical witch would have. So anyway, the band plays some cheery type music as they march around the streets stopping, eventually (actually, its sooner rather than later) at the locations they have already arranged. And when they stop, the following ritual happens.

A head broom carrier says something official for a minute or so and then the non-broom carriers who are holding the circular sheet with the effigy on it count to three and then launch the straw man as high as their co-operation, strength and the laws of physics allow. The other broom holders stand around the outside of the launching circle with their brooms up (sweeping end high) and help guide the effigy back to the sheet if he happens to become a bit wayward. Of course, as he's launched the crowd gives a cheer and after he's landed the band gives a quick ba-bom. They repeat the official spiel and launching another two times after which they break up with some satisfaction and cheeriness and have something to drink. The adults, of course, consume some alcohol (we'd seen both beer and probably schnapps going around) and everyone stands around chatting in a congratulatory and happy manner.

After they have consumed a small sufficiency, they gather up their things, the band strikes up again and they march onto their next location, which for the two of these that I witnessed -- one in our village and one in Jülich itself -- was another 20-50 meters further on. Don't need to overexert yourself I guess.

For our village run, they stopped between our house and the next, though this was due to our neighbours being long-time residents of the village. They had a few children and grandchildren involved in the parade and they brought out some of the alcohol for consumption. Our neighbour, Herr Nieveller(sp?), was most surprised to find I didn't drink. Also, they had two sheets and effigies, one for the adults and a 'competing' one for older children with some good natured rivalry going on between the two. We were invited to the church yard later that evening for the burning of the effigies and some fireworks. The whole tradition is designed to sweep out (with the brooms) the winter spirits (represented by the straw man) and welcome in the spring (probably represented by the alcohol :)). It's a good thing they have kept it up all these years since it seems to work.

Thursday, 3 February 2005


On the Tuesday right before we left Australia, we went to Dreamworld with Aunty Donyque. It was cool and we all want to go back when we get back to Australia. She also took us to McDonald's for lunch.

One of the best rides was the Tower of Terror. They have a tower that goes to 38 stories high. You sit in a car and it shoots you along the track and up the tower. Then you travel the same thing backwards. Joshua didn't want to go on it but Aunty Donyque tried to bribed him with $10. Mum said instead of $10 try with sweet things first. So Joshua said give me a king size packet of Skittles and I'll go on it. So he went on it with me, Dad and Aunty Donyque. On the ride, when you get to the top you start floating out of your chair. The first time I went on it, I had to hold one extra tight because my seatbelt didn't go in far enough. The whole ride lasts about 27 seconds and Joshua says it goes 150 to 160 kilometres per hour. Here are some pictures of the Tower of Terror.

My favourite ride was The Claw. Mum went on it with me and Aunty Donyque. It swings 9 stories high and it spins a little. When we got off I said 'You get a great view from the top' and Mum said, 'You kept your eyes open?!' I went on it twice and both times there was a short line.

A family favourite ride was the Raptercoaster (we all went on that about 4 times.) After a few times I dared Josh to go without holding on and I did that too.

Some off the other rides we went on were the:

  • bumper cars. I bumped every one about 3 times.

  • Angry Beavers. It just goes round and round and up and down inside a fake mountain.

  • Vortex where you spin around fast and stick to the walls.

  • log ride were we got soaked.

  • Wild Water Rapids ride with a fake elephant that squirts water out of its trunk.

  • Wipeout which was cool. It had a fake shark swimming around the bottom and you could see some money that had fallen out of people's pockets while they were upside down.

  • Swinger-Zinger (Chair-O-Planes). It goes round and round and made Mum and Dad feel sick.

  • mine carriage ride where you get jolted and it was very fun.

There is another area called the Blue Lagoon with a pool and three water slides. I like the toboggan slide. At first I felt not very sure about it but it was fun.

Dad really wanted to go on the river cruise and he kept saying "Let's go on the river cruise baby!" but we missed it. None of us really wanted to go on it anyway.

It was a real good day!