I`m 22 years old, and I`ve now had my 23rd New Years. I dont remember all those early ones, of course, but I do have lots of memories of saying goodbye to one year and hello to another- once I was old enough to stay up till midnight! I`ve gone to parties, stayed home with my family, stayed home with friends, had brunch, had Chinese food, etc. I like New Years, its a fun holiday.
Never, in my 22 years have I had a New Years Eve celebration quite like the one I experienced in Bratislava ringing in 2016.
I`m from New York, okay? There are strict fireworks laws, and even though I know they`re legal for personal use in other states and countries, I kind of naively assumed that it would be sort of kind of safe.
That was not the case in Bratislava.
We should`ve known, honestly, since from the second we stepped off the bus to the city center at about 4 PM, people were already throwing firecrackers on random street corners and explosions went off every five minutes or so.
We thought we were out of the woods when we reached the actually crowded main streets to listen to some music, have dinner and find a good spot to watch the fireworks.
And the explosions died down. For a little while.
At about 10 PM, Adam and I were trying to find a good place to set up camp and watch the fireworks over Bratislava Castle. We followed the crowds to the Danube River, where the Bratislava Tourist Office had advertised a solid vantage point for the fireworks.
People were setting off fireworks on every street corner, every balcony, everywhere I looked. And I`m not talking little sparklers or fizzy firecrackers. I`m talking serious, whole, enormous fireworks that would hiss up through passersby and city buildings and go off directly above the streets of Bratislava. It seemed like I couldnt take 5 steps without jumping straight up in the air when a firework was set off next to me. It was unreal. Also, it didn`t seem to bother anybody besides Adam and myself- I guess they are used to it?
I felt like I was in a movie. We quickly hurried away- noticing that other foreigners were doing the same- and crossed the UFO Bridge of Bratislava to the other side of the Danube, where we innocently thought we could see the legitimate fireworks over the castle without having a near brush with getting blown up.
Turns out, it wasnt us who had a near brush with being blown up- as we were crossing the bridge, a firecracker came out of nowhere and passed just two feet from a couple standing where we had been just five minutes earlier. The woman screamed not unlike how I would have screamed if it had been us standing there- we were so close that we felt the debris fall onto us from where the firecracker hit the bridge. Naturally, this made us a little more nervous as we walked over the Danube on a bridge that kept getting racked with firework explosions. It was insane.
So we found ourselves a quiet spot with only a few other people on the other side of the bridge from the main city- there were still lots of firework explosions on our side, but they seemed to not be within 50 feet of us, which was as good as it was going to get in Bratislava! So we waited.
As it got closer to midnight- and a lot colder- loads more people showed up. It was as normal a New Years Eve celebration could be without every 3 minutes an earsplitting BOOM going off wayyyy too close for comfort. But still, within 50 feet, so when in Rome…
A countdown started showing on the castle walls, and the fireworks across the river seemed never-ending- and All. Over. The. City. Then at midnight, the countdown ran out, fireworks lit up the sky over the castle, New Years kisses happened….and nearly every single person surrounding us pulled out their own personal fireworks and set them off, altogether, over the Danube and into the UFO Bridge.
I must have jumped about 50 feet into the air- and Adam and I were both confused and concerned why people were deliberately hitting the UFO Bridge with fireworks- especially since that bridge was our way back to our bus and hotel! So since ash, sparks and bits of the bridge were literally raining down on us, we backed away from the action and waited it out.
My photos don`t exactly do justice to just how insane the firework situation in Bratislava was on New Years…so you`ll just have to take my word for it. I don`t think I stopped muttering ¨Oh my god¨for a full half an hour during the height of the fireworks. Although we had a good time in Bratislava, and we were glad to have celebrated there, I was completely taken aback by the lack of firework safety in a major city!
How did you ring in 2016? Have you ever been thrown for a loop while celebrating in another country? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!