Keukenhof, Part Two: The Flower Parade

The day we chose for our Keukenhof visit happened to be the Saturday of the yearly Flower Parade.  The parade covers a 40 kilometer route from Noordwijk to Haarlem, passing Keukenhof at around 3:30 in the afternoon.  The following day, the floats are all on display in Haarlem.

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It’s Captain Stubing!

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Singapore Airlines sponsored a float.

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“I can’t see!  Can you see?  I can’t see a thing!”

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Floral yoga?

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Nope.  Aerobics.

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DJing from inside a floral pod.

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More nautical themed floral design.

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…but this one had mock surfers.

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There were four or five marching bands in the parade.

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Better visibility than the other car, but man these flowers are heavy!

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Dancing to the groovy sounds of the Beach Boys.  I’m not really sure why.

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This was the ‘please give us money’ float.  I missed the giant floral piggy, alas.

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The energy company’s float.

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Another marching band.

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This one looked a bit like it was going to destroy us all.

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I think this was supposed to represent farming?

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Hey hey, it’s (not quite) the Beatles!

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Cooking with flowers!

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Who doesn’t love a good marching band?

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I think I’m going to start using this next picture whenever someone asks me what kind of plugs are used in Germany.  These look just like the charging plug for my phone.  Except, you know, giant and made of flowers.

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Faces!  Very Easter-Island-y.

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This school bus was being eaten by a shark.  Again, I don’t really know why.

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The purple and white cow was riding a motorcycle.  I couldn’t get a better shot of the whole float though.

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One of the last floats in the parade was actually a stage with a live band.

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Have you ever seen the Keukenhof Flower Parade?

Carnival in Cologne

On Rose Monday, I was in Köln for the Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) Parade. This was part of a slightly larger trip which included Karlsruhe and Stuttgart-  I’ll talk about those in another post, because Cologne during Carnival is more than enough for one post.

First, a brief administrative note-  I took more than 600 pictures, and I whittled them down to around 180 or so that were worth sharing with anyone.  From those, I picked 32 for this post.  If you want to see the ~150 that aren’t in the post, they’re in this gallery over here.

Second, there are a few things to bear in mind while looking through these pictures:

1) The best thing about the Carnival season for a big kid like myself is the costumes.  There were so many costumes-  I noticed a high count of bees, giraffes, and pirates.  The people who wore full body fur suit costumes had the right idea though.  The temperature wasn’t bad, but it was windy. Unless you were standing directly in the sun, it was kind of cold.

2) If I ever go to one of these things again, I totally need a costume with a helmet.  Flying bars of solid chocolate hurt when they hit you in the head.  Even a packet of Haribo gummi bears can be unpleasant if you get beaned right in the forehead.  The candy was being thrown for hours, and after a while I started to shrink back like a kicked puppy any time someone made a throwing motion.  The kids standing on either side of me made out like bandits from all the noggin-bounce candy castoffs, though.

3) These pictures actually span two parades.   When I arrived in Cologne on Sunday afternoon, there was a different parade going.  This parade featured more children, and wasn’t quite as large as the official parade on Monday, but it led to almost a quarter of the more than 600 pictures I finished the weekend with.

On to the pictures!  The first one is an off-duty Superman, looking like a 70s pimp with that furry coat.  I think the guy next to him is wearing a Batman costume, but I can’t be sure.  This costume is particulary daring with the chilly weather.

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Next up, a few Gnomes.  The Gnomes aren’t what I love most about this photo, though.  It’s the walking shower behind them… the curtain, the faucet… I think the shower costume is both creative and hilarious.

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One of the many giraffe costumes I saw.  I can pretty much guarantee that this guy was not nearly as cold as I was.

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This next couples costume won’t make much sense to my American friends without context, but I spotted it right away-  there’s a series of very cute commercials here for Kinder Riegel milk chocolate.  I’ve embedded an example below, so you can see what the costume is all about.

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When it’s time for lunch, you can’t go wrong at a snack bar with thiscast of characters.

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During the first parade, I was particularly amused by this entire family of bears, each equipped with his or her own Honig (honey) pot with which to catch candy thrown from parade floats.

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Another chocolate-inspired group costume.

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There were so many great costumes that I put nine more into an image collage.  The full sized individual shots of each of these are in the gallery linked near the top of this post.

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On Monday morning, the parade started at 10:30, but I found a place closer to the end of the parade route than the start, so the streets actually looked this empty at first.  Also, you can see that the windows on the parade route are often boarded up.  I’m not sure if this is because of drunken revelry or if it’s because of flying chocolate bars, but this is a pretty common sight along the parade route during Carnival.

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The empty streets didn’t last too long though, and before long there was plenty to see.

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There was a lot of NSA/Google/Facebook/Data-Security themed stuff.

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I made these six pictures into a collage because they were all together, and there’s a theme here.  The green wigged, blind-folded people have eyes on their hands to represent the constant watching of data leeches like Facebook.  I think the NSA camera stick holders in the previous picture were also with this group.  Plus the green wigs were conga-lining, which was kind of fun.

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I don’t know what this one was supposed to represent, but I thought it was neat looking.

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I have no earthly idea what the story is with this group.

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The German on this golden knight translates to “Your cellphone, your freedom.”  I’m not entirely sure what they meant by that, but I think it was another one talking about data security.

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There were lots of marching band and drum corps types of groups in various ornate uniforms…

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…and one group playing marching washboards.

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Some of the floats were single-rider deals, like this one.  The head was turning back and forth.

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More marching bands…

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More single-rider floats…

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I think after about six hours of playing the same song, you start to go a little crazy.  Like this guy.

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Once again, I have no clue at all what the deal is with the giant yellow heads that all have soul patches and deerstalker caps.   I bet they’re heavy though.

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There were lots of horses in the parade, but these two had the longest manes of any horse I’ve ever seen.  Usually, parade horses have their manes trimmed very short- not so with these two.

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The Zugordners (parade marshals) were utterly fascinating to watch.  They all had these bright red jackets with the little black hats that were vaguely English Bobby shaped.  I have no idea what they actually did, though, because the parade sort of moved itself along without any special pointing from this guy or his brethren.

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…and on to the floats.  The German on this one reads, “Fun Ghetto.”  Inside the jail is someone drinking, a pair of humping dogs, and other forms of caricatures of fun.

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I’m not sure if this one had a meaning other than just being Carnival-themed.

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This next one might need some parsing from my German friends.  I think the German text is supposed to translate to “Upgrade you will.”  The goat has a rocket strapped to his back.  And Yoda’s wearing a scarf for what I’m pretty sure is a local sports team.   I don’t really get the full meaning.  Any locals care to fill us in?

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This one says “The Death Star, Washington” on the side.   There were a few floats that had anti-American sentiment.  All the NSA spying stuff has really caused some friction between our nations.

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See?

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About an hour after the parade ended, I walked over to the courtyard between the train station and the Cathedral.  There were still an incredible amount of people moving through the city back to the train station.

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I was wondering how the city recovered from something like the Rose Monday parade so quickly, and now I know.   As soon as the parade was done, the cleaning crews came out.  A veritable army of people with brooms gathered the majority of the debris into small piles, and another group came by with giant vehicle-sized vacuums.  That giant white tube is a huge vacuum, sucking up piles of garbage from the street.  I’ve never seen anything like it before, but I think it’s pretty nifty.

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Have you ever been to a Carnival Parade?