Our time in Vienna was quickly coming to a close. The holiday markets had been great, and it was really interesting and fun seeing all the palaces and big churches that occupy most of the 1st district. I liked the city. It’s nice, and the metro system is great. But I wasn’t in love with Vienna. As New Year’s Eve arrived, I found myself a little hesitant.
So far our experience of Vienna and the holidays has been that basically everything shuts down. Some of the family-oriented activities like the amusement park, zoo, and museums remain open, but other than that the city basically goes to sleep on holidays and for about half of the weekend.
I wanted festive! Lots of people, lots of noise, and lots of fun.
We met up with friends earlier in the day for a nice lunch and some socializing. As we walked back to our apartment in our excessively quiet neighborhood, I started to wonder if it was even worth going out that night. By the time we sat down and began our wait, the fireworks began.
And they continued for the next 6 hours. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all, I thought.
When it was time to head to the metro and go downtown, I saw that Vienna indeed takes the new year celebration quite seriously. The trains and stations had more people in them than we had seen all week. Passengers were wearing silly hats and carrying pig effigies, a symbol of good luck. They were laughing, smiling, and being jovial. Many of them had a bottle in hand as they stepped onto the escalators.
A smile spread on my face at their joviality. And in relief. It seemed that we were in for a treat, and I was very happy about that.
Vienna has several public celebrations, and they last well beyond the stroke of midnight. Fireworks continued exploding as we made our way to the Maria-Theresien-Platz area. There was live music and plenty of booths selling food and drinks.
As with the Christmas markets, when you buy a drink, you pay a deposit. When you return the cup, you get your deposit back, or you can keep it as a souvenir. All the booths use the same cups, so you can just hand your cup off at any booth when you buy your next beverage or when you’re ready to get your deposit back.
It was the perfect atmosphere for New Year’s Eve. It was an international crowd, and I loved hearing all the languages around me. The night was just chilly enough to help you appreciate a hot beverage.
If you’re near the big cathedral at Stephansplatz, you will hear the bells begin chiming 12 seconds before the end of the year.
Then the real fireworks begin! The sky was filled with explosions of color everywhere we looked. No matter where we turned, BOOM! I quickly heard myself laughing and whooping as the Viennese skyline was silhouetted by a riot of flashing colors.
As I watched the explosions, my cheeks hurting from smiling so broadly and for so long, I felt tears begin forming in my eyes. Once again I found myself feeling so incredibly blessed and grateful. I felt so in love with my life.
What a way to start a new year!
By the time we returned to our apartment, with a short stop to accept an offer by some locals for Tigger to shoot off a Roman candle, I knew we had picked the right place to begin 2014.
Vienna may take its days off seriously, but it sure knows how to celebrate the new year!
Where have you experienced your most exciting new year celebration?