I now know what it fells like to be in a firework. Having read up on the best places to be in Berlin when the clock hits twelve, we decided that the chaos of the Brandenburg gate street parties might be a little too much for us, especially when it would be a good hour and a half walk back to the hotel if transport wasn’t an option. A lover of fireworks, I wanted to see the sky lit up and the city celebrations, so we headed to Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum bridge) to look across the Spree to the city. We were not alone. The fireworks and celebrations started early. It turns out Germans are a lot more liberal with fireworks than the tame British bonfire night celebrations we are used to. With rockets, whizzbangs and firecrackers being let off in the street as soon as the sun set, we knew we were going to be in for an interesting night.
Drunk Germans in front of me, Gareth behind, a lovely Dutch couple to our left and a wall to my right I was surrounded. I hoped that my human shields would protect me from the onslaught of fireworks being let off by everyone, in all directions, at various ranges. Drei, zwei, eins… BOOM! The most fireworks I’ve ever seen. Deafening, terrifying and beautiful.
Ten minutes into the new year and the deluge hadn’t stopped. Rocket brandishing revelers were now stopping cars, sitting on their bonnets and climbing on their roofs. Rockets were now being fired directly into the crowds on the bridge. Time to go.
Walking through the arches of the Oberbaum bridge we were at the mercy of the mayhem around us. We quickened our pace. 200m until the relative safety of the road we heard the unmistakable sharp fizz of a rocket shooting its way towards us. Missing us by less than a foot but now a metre away, the firework exploded and boy, was it big. We barely had time to shield our faces and turn the other way, both still clutching on to each other and quickening our pace. Through the smoke we stole a glance at each other: ‘it’s ok, we’re ok’. The inspection of possible singed jackets and trousers could wait until the safety of our hotel room. The trams were running, allowing us to speed through the streets packed with people and feel the safety of a barrier between the continuous rockets coming still, from all directions.
400m, not far, right? What should be an easy dash from tram stop to hotel felt like crossing no mans land. The dark streets filled with bottles, broken and abandoned, fireworks being set off regardless of direction or surroundings, large groups of people in alleyways and doorsteps, in varying degrees of drunkenness. We got back, we were safe inside our hotel room but we were wired. With the adrenaline still running and the noise of celebrations until 5 am we were in for a sleepless night.
I love fireworks, I always have – giggling at each bang, smiling at each burst of colour, but now I think I’ve had my fill of fireworks for a while. Spending our first New Years together, the way we did, was incredible and I look back fondly knowing I thoroughly enjoyed it. Just in the now I’m safe and past it way, knowing that while it was an amazing experience, it’s not one I fancy repeating any time soon. Luckily my sentiments were shared when G looked at me in the early hours of the morning and asked ‘could we have a quiet one next year?’