27 February 2009

Birthday in Ingolstadt

Last Thursday, after Dylan and I arrived in Eichstätt from Salzburg the day before, we celebrated Steffi's birthday. The three of us plus Ana, a Brazilian student still in Eichstätt from last semester, spent most of the day in Ingolstadt.

This Thursday also happened to be the first day of the Carnival season in Germany. Known by different names around the world, the celebrations of these days before Lent all have the same origins. In Bavaria this season is known known as Fasching. Each day has its own name, and while the names change from region to region in Germany, my favorite for this Thursday is Unsinnigerdonnerstag, basically translated as Absurd Thursday. Wearing costums out in public is a normal way to celebrate this and other days of Fasching.

We left Eichstätt a little after noon on a train bound for Ingolstadt. In the picture below you can see Steffi and Ana.

Most of the day was spent simply wandering around Ingolstadt, going into stores, and seeing the sites. In one department store we paused to act out a tradition of Unsinnigerdonnerstag, which can be seen in the next photograph. On this day, if a man chooses to include a necktie in his outfit he'll likely regret it, because women have the right to cut it off. Another name for this day of Fasching is Weiberfasching, something like Women's Fasching. Needless to say, few men out on the streets of Ingolstadt could be seen with a tie on.

Along the main shopping street of Ingolstadt one can find several pieces of playground equipment for the young or young at heart. These included a trampoline, as seen in the next two shots.

There was also this version of a merry-go-round. Riders could either spin themselves or be spun by friends.

Our stomachs cried for attention at some point, and we searched for a bakery to partake in another Fasching tradtion. Before that though, Dylan and I found amusement at the type of pastry called an Amerikaner. Neither of us had ever know that we were collectively worth €1.98.

During and leading up to Fasching, bakeries across Germany fill their shelves with what Bavarians call Krapfen. In America we would know these as simple jelly-filled doughnuts, but in Germany they're a pastry traditionally associated with this brief season of celebration. Cheaper versions are filled with jellies and dusted with powdered sugar, while others are filled with rich creams of various flavours and drizzled with chocolate or caramel syrup.

While the girls continued shopping, Dylan and I explored a little more of the city. We came across several of Ingolstadt's obsolete fortifications.

We eventually met back up with Steffi and Ana and searched for a restaurant for dinner. Steffi knew of an establishment that served traditional Bavarian food. Past the entrance doors were stairs that led to the dinning areas, but why take those when a slide was also provided?

The promise of traditional Bavarian food was not unfulfilled. My meal consisted of roasted pork, potato dumplings, and a creamy sauerkraut. The menu also mentioned a salad, but I would consider the few green vegetables on my plate more of garnish.

As we ate, dozens of Fasching revelers complete with costums poured into the restaurant. In the first image below is a view of three of them arriving to the party. The second photo shows Ana, Steffi, and Dylan.

After dinner we returned to the train station and to Eichstätt for some final birthday celebrations with additional friends.

Dylan returned to Salzburg on Saturday afternoon. For the rest of that day and on Sunday not much took place in Eichstätt. Now, in the depths of the semester break, Eichstätt has been left to the actual Eichstätters. Students and with them student life will return in April. For the rest of my weekend I could only wait until Monday, the next important day of Fasching.

No comments: