We've spent New Year's Eve in sweatpants cuddled up on the couch the last few years, and for the most part, that's also what we did this year. We went out for errands in the early afternoon on Saturday since many stores closed at 2pm for the holiday (I'm unsure as to why that early!) and then came home, put on sweatpants, and just sort of hunkered down watching Netflix.
A few days before, we'd learned that the bridge near our apartment got a great view of the fireworks at the Dom downtown, so we decided to head out there at about 11:30 that night. I was surprised to see crowds of people making their way to the same spot, including many young families. We scored a spot by the railing of the bridge to watch pre-midnight fireworks going off. I'm told that fireworks are legal on just the last few days of the year (they sold them at our local market) and so for the last several days of 2016, we'd hear booms and pops throughout the day and even more regularly at night. New Year's Eve was a completely different ball game though. Lots of people were stationed around the banks of the Aasee (and on the bridge itself) and were setting off large fireworks pre-midnight.
With about five minutes left in the year, the celebration was already well underway and then the countdown began. At midnight, it was chaos. I don't know that I can accurately describe the noise or the feeling or the smell. Everything was smoky from so many fireworks and it seemed that everyone was yelling or popping champagne. We had to jump out of the way a few times from rogue bottle rockets, but somehow remained unscathed.
The display of celebration totally blew any fireworks show I've seen out of the water! It sounded like a battlefield scene from a movie. There were noise and lights and yelling, although of course major differences in the reason for all the chaos. There were people absolutely everywhere (the bridge wasn't cordoned off, but either cars had stopped or had given up trying to cross at about ten till, and there were people in the middle of the road setting things off). For a people that seems to be largely subdued, Carson and I were surprised at how everyone had seemed to LOSE. IT. There was just so much happening!
Just out of the shot are several groups of people setting off fireworks, and just behind me here is the bridge where all the merriment took place.
Things stayed loud and festive for a long time, so we decided to watch a movie (we rented Jason Bourne from Amazon Video - we really liked the original three but I thought this one was boring) instead of going to bed, since there was so much noise. There were people celebrating with more fireworks right outside the apartment and on every street corner until maybe 4 in the morning. It was hard to go to sleep. I don't know what parents do, because surely children would be going nuts from so much insanity. It was so so fun to experience, and I've never seen that level of celebration before.
After sleeping in very late on New Year's Day, we went on a walk around the lake. There was quite a bit of carnage left over from the night before, as well as more people setting off daytime fireworks. Since it's been colder, I've seen fewer people walking around the lake on a daily basis, but so many people were taking advantage of a day off and we passed crowds of families and packs of runners as we made our way around.
The sky was beautiful, and although it was really windy and cold, it was a really pleasant late afternoon for a walk.
For dinner, we cobbled together a baked spaghetti to use up some remaining dairy in our fridge. Our tradition has been to go to Taco Bell as a part of a pact we made in 2011, but a Google search revealed that the closest one is four hours away on Ramstein (military base that's south of us) and so we didn't do that this year (side note - Ben and Ivan found one in Barcelona and while we went to Montserrat, they made a pilgrimage there. They also got leftovers and so Carson was able to have some too).
I don't think any fireworks display I'll see again will have this level of celebration, and I'm a little disappointed by that! The Germans know how to throw a good New Year's Eve, and we weren't even in the middle of the city, or even in a large city!