Tomorrow I fly to Frankfurt for the publicity tour of Couch Surfing – Eine abenteuerliche Reise um die Welt. Although I have been to Germany around twenty times the last time I was in Frankfurt was 20 years ago! In fact, Frankfurt was the first city I flew to on my first Big Trip OS. But, my first taste of Germany and Frankfurt was a little bit scary (in that clown scary sort of way). As I stepped out of Frankfurt airport as a young, naive backpacker, I noticed a couple of people dressed as clowns. In the underground train station I saw two more clowns drinking large cans of beer. Sitting opposite me on the train was another clown having an animated conversation with a court jester. I had no idea what was going on (my first thought was that—because Europe is a season ahead in fashion—this was the latest look and everyone would be dressing like clowns in the Australian winter).
After seeing another dozen or so clowns, I finally found out that the Germans weren’t clown fetishists after all. It was acutally part of an ancient festival called Fasching and, as well as dressing up, people danced, sang and drank massive steins of beer for three days straight.
By evening, half the population of Frankfurt was rolling drunk, which meant there were a lot of very happy clowns. I saw them collapsed in doorways and throwing up in gutters. I even saw two clowns on the riverbank trying to make little clowns. I had the most marvellous time and, by midnight of my first day in Europe, I had three clowns, an ape and a nun as my new best friends.
This time I’m bringing my clown costume along – just in case.