Happy New Year!
We had a great night! We put the kids to bed at around 7:00 (their normal bedtime) and then we woke them up at 10:00. We all bundled up and headed out into the streets.
It was a pleasant evening (+6.2 C) and the streets had a few people wandering, but it was not crowded. We had heard single fireworks going off in our hotel since dusk. As we walked we could hear and see bursts of fireworks that individuals were setting off.
We walked over to Charles Bridge and picked a spot to stand and wait for the fireworks. We arrived just after 11:00. The fireworks were supposed to begin at 12:00, but for the entire hour that we waited until midnight, there were fireworks going off. They were all around us, and there were all types. Some looked like professional shows while others were obviously individuals. The sky was filled with smoke and still more fireworks were popping all around us. The wait went quickly as we watched everything that was going on, but it did start to rain and snow (light snow that melted). It got a bit chilly over the water.
At midnight the fireworks barge blew it’s horn and then the “real” fireworks started. From our side of the bridge we had a perfect view of one fireworks show. On the other side of the bridge was another “official” show and then there were smaller shows all around us. It was crazy loud and so colourful I did not know where to look. It went on for a while (probably about 15 minutes) and then the barge sounded it’s horn again, signaling that the show was over. Then all of the barges started sounding their horns.
The fireworks were surreal in the historic setting. They lit up the Gothic towers on either end of the bridge and there was a large statue of Jesus that had fireworks above it for most of the show. It lit up with an eerie halo. About half way through the show there was so much smoke that I could not see the fireworks from the official show. After the show, the smoke rolled over the bridge and was smelly. It blocked the view almost completely; it was difficult to see the boats on the water.
During the show, individuals were setting off fireworks on the bridge and at one point a whole crowd of people jumped back to avoid ashes and flame. This causes a bunch of men to fall into me and me to fall onto our buggy. I broke my fall and prevented further pushing but from that point, a large wall of people were all leaning on each other.
As we walked off of the bridge it was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to walk and people were pushing and being pushed from every direction. It was complete chaos. There were people yelling, fireworks exploding everywhere and dropping ashes all over, including on us, bottles all over the ground, drunks stumbling and people dancing. The crowd was crushing; I can now see how people get squished in football match stampedes. At a few points I had to carry out 4-year old to prevent him from getting crushed or pushed around. My husband wielded the stroller like a protective weapon.
Despite the crowded situation and the inherent dangers of trying to move so many inebriated people through narrow passages, everyone was positive and in good humor. As soon as people saw our kids, they were helpful and extra nice.
After we got off of the bridge and pushed our way through a part of the Old Town we could easily walk back to our hotel.
Right now it is about 1:30 in the morning and I can still hear fireworks!