A Very Hobo NYE
I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve. Much like our current Prime Minister, my grandparent’s faces when they realise I’m still in a shit job, and sex while drunk, I find the night consistently disappointing. This year, however, I vowed that things would change. After a few discussions with my partner in crime, we decided to celebrate the death of 2014 somewhere amazing like Iceland. Then Budapest. Then by the time it came to book flights, we realised that leaving things to the last-minute meant a ridiculous hike in costs. So like any good hobos, we searched for the cheapest international flights that wouldn’t land us in a shit-hole and settled on the booziest jewel in Germany’s crown: Berlin.
Berlin is the kind of city where all-nighters are the norm and going to bed before the sun comes up is frowned upon. My second partner in crime, Laura, who had flown in from Australia, probably had about three hours combined sleep the entire time we were there, so her stamina inevitably set the bar high for NYE. Unfortunately, due to a rather large evening the night before, my boyfriend and I found ourselves a little worse for wear come the 31st. Refusing to succumb to exhaustion brought on by lack of sleep, we decided to rally, and after lining our stomachs with schnitzel and bratwurst, we jumped in a cab across town to meet Laura at her hostel.
Because Berlin doesn’t play by the rules, and because NYE is no exception to this rule, the streets were crawling with ordinary citizens setting off fireworks wherever and whenever they fancied. There is no way that everyone possessing fireworks that night held a licence in the art of pyrotechnics, so after being booted out of our taxi, in the middle of nowhere (because the driver wasn’t interested in taking us all the way), we found ourselves trying to navigate the streets of Kreuzberg on foot, without being blown up by Germans who had decided the best place to set off fireworks was in the middle of a pedestrian pathway.
After surviving the Firecracker Frontline we finally made it to our destination, where we discovered the hostel was closing early, so we would need to drink all the booze in 30 minutes. Challenge accepted. One drunken French opera singer, two bottles of vodka and three selfies later, we were all being kicked out of the hostel to go and watch the fireworks from a nearby bridge at midnight. Not overly enamoured with the idea of standing outside for 2.5 hours in the freezing cold, I was thrilled when the Canadian guy holding a beer and a bag of fireworks suggested we join him for a train party. With visions of a cool underground rave taking place in an abandoned train, we readily agreed.
One firework narrowly missing a child on a bike, four train changes and ten pee breaks later, we found ourselves in the cold, waiting on an ordinary platform somewhere in the city, dangerously close to midnight. Apparently ‘cool underground rave on an abandoned train’ translated to: ‘we hijack the train doing a city-loop and make it into our own party.’ Unfortunately, there was no locomotive in sight and by this point, I had run out of booze, patience and any hope that this NYE would be anything but a disappointment; waiting on a platform in the freezing cold.
I looked around at the groups of drunken revellers hoping for this train, and decided that what should be a party looked more like a cluster of Monday morning commuters. Close to midnight, sobriety and far too late to come up with any alternative plans, we decided to get on the train (if it ever turned up), because at least we still had each other and at the very least, we could get off at the next stop and find a watering hole.
10 minutes to midnight and finally a train began winding its way towards us. “THIS IS THE ONE!” someone shouted from behind and I joined in with what had become a large crowd as we all jumped in the last carriage. My images of the morning commute were quickly squashed underneath the speaker system someone began setting up in the corner and any apprehension immediately lost under the banners of crêpe paper people were stringing along the windows.
Music began blaring and people began to dance and fall to the music as the train wound its way out of the station and the clock ticked its way towards midnight. A girl climbed up the handrails and hung upside down, people jumped up on the seats, trying not to fall over as the train worked its way around the tracks of Berlin and into the New Year. As 2014 came to halt and I smeared red lipstick all over my boyfriends face in celebration, I looked around and discovered that what was once a train carriage was now a fully functioning party, worthy of Project X status.
Someone handed over a bottle of champagne, while an Australian guy in the corner cut up lemons to go with his vodka sodas. A girl in our group distributed a bag of Haribo sweets while someone else filmed on a go-pro. Like the survivors in Snowpiercer, we stayed on for the entire loop, thoughts of getting off to find a bar long abandoned, as the music kept going and our whistles kept wet by the bottles of alcohol being passed around. At no point did the conductor stop and citizen arrest everyone involved, he just kept on his route and we kept on celebrating until we had finished the city circle and all the booze.
As the train pulled in at our original station what felt like hours later, we all tumbled out in a cloud of well wishes and alcohol soaked “HAPPY NEW YEARS”. The decorations came with us, the speaker finally stopped and everyone scattered off in different directions to keep celebrating until the early hours. I grabbed my two companions and we headed off into the night for our next destination, fuelled by the potential of a shiny 2015 and smug in the knowledge that for once, the night had been anything but a disappointment.