A Berlin New Year's Eve

I turned 60 this year, so it should come as no surprise that I've had the pleasure of living through a number of memorable New Year's Eves. The most memorable among them is the one I experienced in Berlin on December 31st, 1985. 

My wife and I were both Russian linguists in the Army, and we worked a swing shift that day on Teufelsberg, ("the hill"), keeping tabs on the Soviets as usual. Our routine at the end of the shift, which ended around 11:00 p.m. as I recall, was to take the trick bus down the hill to the bus stop at Truman Plaza and then catch a Berlin city bus to our apartment on Albrechstrasse in Steglitz. However, once we got off the bus at Truman Plaza that night it became clear that the city busses weren't running. Seems that was standard for Berlin on New Year's Eve, but it was news to us at that moment. Once we figured it out, we hailed a taxi and headed for home.

The taxi ride was wild. The New Year's Eve custom in Berlin at the time (still?) was to light up the nightwith fireworks. And I mean light up every square inch of the night. Besides the stuff going straight up, besides the stuff arcing over the city's buildings and streets, besides the stuff whirring, whizzing, and exploding on the ground, Berliners were firing Roman candles and bottle rockets directly at each other across the city's streets. On the way home, our cab got hit more times than I can remember by flying, sparkling, exploding things, all of which were harmless so long as we stayed in the car. Albrechtstrasse was itself a gauntlet in a what seemed like a free fire zone! And it was all great fun. 

When we got home, we popped open a bottle of Jahrgang Sekt, headed out to the balcony of our sixth floor apartment, filled our champagne flutes, iced the bottle in some recent snow, sat back, sipped the Sekt, and watched the rest of the show. It was a helluva show with the occasional firework flying a little too close for comfort directly overhead or exploding against our building mere meters away. To this day, I remember it as number one among all of the New Year's celebrations I've witnessed. Take my word for it, Berliners know how to throw a party.