Jet lag is a real thing and despite my best efforts, I cannot put this lag to bed nor can I sleep more than 3 consecutive hours in a row. I must share the blame with the individual seated in row 20, Seat C for my inability to sleep on the plane. Anyone who robs you of your overhead bin privileges then insists on fully reclining his seat and crossing his arms behind his head for an eight hour flight is nothing if not totally self absorbed. I've moved on and can only wish this fellow all that he deserves in the New Year.
The weather Gods deceptively welcomed me to Vienna, quietly luring me in, a snow globe's worth of winter dusting the ground. One architectural wonder after another circles the city, illuminated for the holiday season in gossamer strands of twinkle lights. Following the doctrine of Lucy Van Pelt, I try to avoid December snowflakes. Vienna's snow is somehow different, confectioners sugar light, sparkly as it falls. The city's idea of bling is mirrored in Klimt's applied layers of gold leaf, massive bronze statues and imposing pillars gilded with 23 carat gold. The apfelstrudel is pretty darn tasty, too.
There is a common woolen thread weaving its way through the snow covered streets of Wien; Austrians love to stand outside in the bitter cold, eating and drinking. My personal thermostat registers only one temperature, freezing. I am downright Dr. Zhivago cold. Master/Master and Blondilocks remind me we are not in Siberia nor do I respond to "Lara." I do not understand how the women of Vienna, despite their age, appear impervious to the weather. The young women sport Barbie doll ski pants and fashionable fur trimmed boots. Yes, they wear hats, and yes, the hats are top heavy with Pom-poms, but their hair looks Breck-girl perfect and their mascara does not run. I am sporting more of a stay-puft marshmallow look. I have layered thermal gear beneath woolen turtlenecks, wide wale corduroy, ear muffs, knee high waterproof insulated boots, down vest and hooded parka. Plus a woolen scarf for good measure and two pairs of mittens. I am still freezing from the tips of my ice cube fingers all the way down to my Popsicle toes.
Standing amidst the throngs cheerfully noshing on wurst and warming themselves with steaming mugs of Gluhwein, I wonder. Perhaps no one has suggested that it's perfectly acceptable to gather up their eats and drinks and bring it all indoors. I am willing to start this trend. Master/Master has lived in Wien and assures me that this is the way things are done. Multi-generational families are standing in this crazy cold, babies and elders and little dogs dressed in tiny booties.
On New Year's Eve, fortified by a few rounds of Wieselburger Bier plus an additional sweater and pair of socks, I join in the festivities surrounding the Rathaus. To my left, the Rathausplatz is dizzying with couples waltzing. To my right, a large family is setting up champagne flutes and preparing to uncork a few bottles at midnight. The sky is dazzling with fireworks. At the stroke of twelve, the waltzing and the fireworks reach a deafening crescendo. There is a huge assemblage of law enforcement to prevent celebrants climbing the treacherous staircases surrounding the City Hall. What I witness is controlled chaos and then the loudspeakers grow quiet for just a moment.
Maybe it's the jet-lag. Maybe it's the beer. I am certain that on the heels of the Blue Danube the next song is unmistakably a non traditional Viennese tune. Do I hear a waltz? I do not. The crowd goes wild as the opening strains of "Celebration" by Kool and The Gang saturates the frigid air.
This is certainly not Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve. But based on the crowd, the music is easy to dance to. I'll give it a 7 out of 10.
May your New Year be merry and bright and as warm as toast. Except for you, sir, previously seated in Row 20, seat C.