Sunday, February 21, 2010

Champagne, Fireworks and Dancing Germans

Picture it: New Year's Eve 2009. The Mittlere Bruck Bridge, Basel, Switzerland. It was a mild Swiss night as we set out for the Mittlere Bruck, the first bridge to cross the Rhine River. My friend Laura had grabbed a bottle of champagne and two glasses before we left.

This is a little of how the conversation went:

Me: But we won't be allowed to drink alcohol on the streets! Especially not with real glass! Don't you have a paper bag and we can do it NYC bum style?

Laura: What are you talking about? Of course we can drink on the street. This is Europe, not the U.S. Besides, the town council is giving out free hot wine to everyone!

Me: To everyone? What about kids?

Laura: Sure? Why not?

Laura: There will be fireworks too, but I didn't get a chance to buy any.

Me: Now what are you talking about? They won't let us set off fireworks on the bridge. Only the city can do that.

Laura: The city is doing fireworks, but we're allowed to do our own too.

Me: And there's no people fighting or vomiting or planning a date rape due to all this free alcohol and craziness?

Laura: Ah, you Americans.

So we get down there and it's as great as she promised. There were people of all ages and there weren't any problems. A few people should have watched where they were pointing their bottle rockets but overall, it was no big deal.

We met some random Germans and ended up dancing with them during the countdown. And by dancing, I mean forming a big circle and jumping up and down. Not the most traditional Bavarian dance I think.

I was all for it until someone started blasting "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver and the Germans went crazy trying to sing the loudest. It was a bit surreal.

Although this was the 2nd time I had heard this song during my time in Europe--the other was a busker on the street.

Here is the chorus in case you need reminding how weird it is to hear this song anymore period, let alone in Western Europe.

"Country Roads, Take Me Home
To the Place I Belong
West Virginia, Mountain Momma
Take Me Home, Country Roads"

I'm not sure if they really understood what they were singing or not. And I'm not sure what way would be better.


  1. I make our visitors from the US leave the house with a beer in hand on their first night here, just so they can feel the thrill of drinking openly on the street.

  2. I wish the US would adopt this policy =0