20 September 2010

Carnival in Leuven

As much as Europe is different from the United States - as much as we want to think that it's different - the people in both places share some basic desires. We share a need to mill aimlessly around a dirty, loud space with unnecessary lights. Both peoples love awful food from suspect carts. Everyone loves rides - or at least watching people get off of rides. Games of skill and luck are fascinating.
We got to Leuven on a beautiful Sunday, without realizing that there was some kind of carnival going on. We spent quite a bit of time wandering around before we noticed the ferris wheel. We decided that we really should take a ride - "to get pictures from the top," we told ourselves.

The pictures were great, of course, as was the ride. We were definitely the only people between the ages of twelve and forty, but that was fine.
Notice all of the empty tables at these cafes below us - it was tough to find a place to sit in the rest of the city, but here the noise and commotion limited the appeal of sitting outside. It was nice up high, though, in our little hanging basket.
The interesting thing, for me, was the juxtaposition of the old buildings and the blaring midway. It was very unusual to look up from the booths and rides and see peaceful, pretty Leuven in the background.
I'm used to county fairs, which are somewhat similar, but are held in muddy fields and purpose-built barn buildings. It's a very similar thing though. The smells are the same, the rush of excited children, the barkers holding microphones, the canned noises that create a sense of bodily displacement.
I didn't buy any food or go on any rides other than the ferris wheel. I was really, really tempted by the shooting booths, though. It just looks so simple!
These poor ponies have a pretty awful life. The combination of children, noise and a confined tent-track has got to be a hard thing to take.
Leaving Leuven - after we walked all afternoon, had drinks and dinner and more drinks - we'd almost forgotten about the fair. On the way to the train station, though, we passed by the ferris wheel and almost got on it again.

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