28 February 2006

A lighter look at Bird Flu

BerlinBear avatarNow that the Olympics are over, the newspapers here in Germany are pretty much totally dominated by the steady advance of bird flu throughout Germany and across Europe, which I first posted about a couple of weeks ago. Reports today indicate that the first case has been discovered in Bavaria. Oh joy. So far in Germany, there have been no cases of humans contracting the disease from contact with birds, nor of domestic or farmed birds contracting the disease from wild birds. That has not stopped speculation about whether or not the football World Cup might need to be cancelled, though. Battles about who is responsible for the strategy to counter bird flu - whether it's the federal government or the state governments (Bundesländer) - are going on in Berlin as I type.

But it's all a bit tedious. Hence, for your amusement and courtesy of my good friend HSB, I offer a lighter take on bird flu:

Bird flu: the first case

How to prevent bird flu


27 February 2006

Karneval in Trier

BerlinBear avatarAs I noted in a recent post, it's Karneval time in Germany. Today is Rosenmontag, (Rose Monday), which is the biggest day for celebrating carnival around these parts. That means, as you will see in the photos below, dressing up in wacky costumes, drinking heavily in the street at lunchtime, watching the parade go past, and yelling Helau! at the top of your voice to everyone in the parade, and indeed anyone else you see.

As a curious but really rather detached observer, I ventured out at lunchtime today to watch the
Rosenmontagszug (Carnival parade) wend its way through the streets of the Trier inner-city. The photos below are a selection of what I saw.

It's not just those in the parade itself who dress up, but pretty much everyone. These clowns were waiting patiently at the end of my street for the arrival of the parade.

This year, even the police leading the parade were dressed up, either as bank robbers or terrorists, I can't decide (see face mask).

Presumably expecting trouble, the Police had also recruited some very young officers (above) and some reinforcements from abroad (below).

Every possible vantage point for watching the parade had been seized.

I think this may be the first parade I've ever seen which included a mobile bar
in the parade itself. (Only in Germany!)

There was plenty of fun to be had (and sweets to be caught) for the little ones too. The goodie bag below belonged to a sex or seven year old girl. She'd been collected the sweets and popcorn and other goodies thrown from the parade floats so effectively that she had to get another bag just minutes after I took this photo.

Some of the watching crowd took their job of yelling "Helau" very seriously indeed.

A lot of work had gone into some of the costumes in the parade. From wild animals...

to fruit...

to insects. The whole range was covered.

But it wasn't just the costumes that had had a lot of effort put into them. The decoration of some of the floats was pretty impressive too.

This being Germany, the clean-up was exceptionally well organised and began less than 10 minutes after the last float had gone past.

But, as you can see above and below, there was plenty of cleaning up to do.


The last Olympics post

BerlinBear avatarCertain readers (*cough* Miss Behaviour) will be pleased to know that this is the very last Winter Olympics post,a nd it will be short. The 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin came to an end yesterday, with Germany atop the medals table.

I really enjoyed these Olympics, as you may have gathered from the preponderance of posts about them. It's the first time I have really got into a Winter Olympics. Now I'm hooked and will look forward to the 2012 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with anticipation. I've learned a lot in the last couple of weeks about sports I scarcely even knew existed, such as skeleton. I've revelled in the coverage of sports I've been fascinated by for years, such as luge and bobsled. And I've become a fan of sports I knew existed but had never really bothered to watch before, especially biathlon, but also, believe it or not, curling. I can't pick one highlight from these games that stands out above all the others, but I do now have a favourite winter sports athlete: biathlete Martina Glagow, who picked up a whole haul of medals, though none were silver.

Anyhow, to bring my Winter Olympics coverage to an end once and for all (*hears sighs of relief*), here is the final medal table from the official torino2006.org website. You will note that Germany's account of 11 gold, 12 silver, 6 bronze, 29 total bears more than a passing similarity to my pre-Games prediction of 11 gold, 19 silver, 8 bronze, 38 total. Well, the 11 gold bit does, anyway.

(by Total)
2United StatesUnited States997252
4Russian Fed.Russian Fed.868225
15Czech RepublicCzech Republic121415
21Great BritainGreat Britain0101=21

And that's it. More in 4 years' time.