Slovakia is a city of inexpensive booze and readily accessible fireworks. On New Year’s eve, this was a troubling combination. Leaving Tesco in the afternoon, a very loud boom exploded near my head. I nonchalantly reached up and covered my right ear to ensure I could still hear out my left. I was a bit worried about the night. All afternoon, explosions rocked our neighborhood, literally shaking our windows.
Pat and I decided to pop into old town a few hours before midnight. The square is the site of any celebration and hastily flipped from the Christmas market to a New Year’s party venue. A series of bands performed throughout the late afternoon until after midnight. We listened for a while – it was pure Slovak. I live in Slovakia. I don’t want to hear Katy Perry “Baby you’re a firework”… and I didn’t. Two year olds and 82 year olds danced with blinking devils horns swaying over their heads. Booths around the square periphery sold devils horn head bands and hot mulled wine. It was a festive and family fun.
In Slovakia there is a zero tolerance law on drinking and driving. Get pulled over with a blood alcohol above 0, and you go to jail. The buses and trams stop at 11 PM. Taxis cruised the downtown. But for drinkers, the getting home options were limited. I can only surmise this controls the traditional drinking holidays.
Just before midnight, Pat and I walked the five minutes to the old bridge (Stary most) and stood above the center of the Danube. It was busy, but not packed. For 30 minutes we snapped photos as fireworks lit up the sky. The weather behaved; cool and crisp – perfect for fireworks. Throughout the city, we could see pods of fireworks just visible above the distant buildings and trees: Petrzalka, Karolova Ves, Ruzinov each seemed to have their own firework display. My theory is that drinkers stay home and firework displays sprinkle around the city to accommodate this.
As the celebration drew to a close, the elderly man next to us turned and said “I wish you a very happy New Year.” His English was broken. I was touched he made the effort to greet us in our own language. One very sweet man and no sloppy drunks. Bratislava did us proud this New Year’s eve.
Categories: Insiders Bratislava