What are all those explosions?

Trip Start Dec 20, 2010
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12
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Trip End Jan 01, 2011


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Flag of Austria  ,
Friday, December 31, 2010

So today was a VERY relaxed day.  I am getting near the end of my trip and frankly, I am quite tired.  I have earmarked Vienna for a return visit in the near future when i can really enjoy it here.

So i woke up at around 10 but stayed in bed until maybe 11 ( wasn't alone).  Last night I had gone out and acted like a big old tramp, but it did me good.  Meanwhile, after my "guest" left, I decided to go to see more of the stuff that i saw on my hop on/off tour a few days ago.  I took the metro into Stephensplaz and found that the area was completely busy with getting ready for the New year's party.  Curious, I decided to sort of slowly circle the area but taking small alleyways and passages.  In the past, the streets were so busy with horses that the homeowners would create passages under their homes for pedestrians.  Now these areas are filled with tiny shops and expensive boutiques.  I bout some very nice chocolates for some friends and continued in between the art galleries and shops stopping only to watch the workers setting up for the shows in all areas of the plaz.

I stumbled upon what appeared to be the old jewish quarter.  There was a street named Juda street and around the corner a placard marking the old synagogue.  It seems new now, so, it must have been bombed out during one or more of the wars.  anyway, I saw some interesting streets and architecture as walked.  You see, Vienna was hit hard in WWII and at least 1/3 of the city has been rebuilt since.  Therefore, you see very old buildings directly next to newer buildings.

everywhere yo go are booths selling pigs...I have seen this for days now and finally asked what it was about.  It is an Austrian tradition to give a pig to someone for good luck.  This custom began with real pigs during times of poverty and plague. But, of course now that wouldn't make sense so they just give glass, plastic, wood or porceline pigs.

 
Next, I decided to go to the "modern" part of Vienna. My intent was to walk along the river but as it was prohibitively cold, I took a metro.  As I emerged from the station, I was right in front of a large modern area across the river from the old center.  This area contains the UN complex as well as some conference centers and very large 5 star hotels and deluxe apartments.  I wandered around enjoying the fascinating modern architecture and even went into the UN but the tours were closed as it was New years eve.

So, as it was getting very very cold, I went slowly back to my hotel for a little rest before going into the center for the main party.

2 hours on the phone with some family and off I went.  You can hear popping and explosions everywhere you go and the younger people were already acting stupid at only 9/10 pm.  Oh to be young again..

At Stephenzplaz the crowd was thick with people of ALL ages. the smell of Marijuana permeated the air as well as the smell of Vienna sausage and beer and even guelwein (a hot wine served in winter)  The atmosphere was one of joy and hope and couples were dancing to the live music.  The streets were lit with millions of white and different colored lights.  Every corner had different music for different tastes and even folk music had the elderlies singing and dancing in the street. I basically followed the crowd until I hit "Volksgarten"  A huge public park that was so full of people you wouldn't believe it. As the backdrop stood the elegant city hall building completely lit up and practically glowing with light.  Apparently this is the main section because it is so crowded you can't even get close.  In the night, with all the crowds, you could really get a sense of the new years excitement.  Across the street was the parliment building and it was literally piled with people.  It turned out that is was now 10 minutes to 12!!! I turned the corner and low and behold a hot dog stand selling traditional Vienna sausage.  as i ate mine, It was so hot and full of cheese that it ruptured all over my sweater just as the fireworks began and I stopped to enjoy them.

So the fireworks were popping and the sounds from the street cars and crowds also added to the feeling of excitement. Meanwhile, the fireworks came to a crescendo and everyone cheered and made such a noise!!

I was very near the metro entrance and being a seasoned reveler on big parties, I made a bee line down those stairs as soon as they stopped. Then, i jumped on the metro before it got too crowded, and back to bed I went!!!
 

 
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