A Czech Birthday Party/Wedding!

27 Aug

This one goes back to April… hey, better late than never! Also, it’s an awesome story about Czech culture and something I’m sure I will never experience again.

Julie and I in Pilzen at the Pilsner Urquell factory

My friend Julie (we met in Spain when I first moved in Sept 2009, I had just visited her in February) was visiting the Czech Republic for her spring break. Like most places I’m used to, Spain’s spring break is around Easter and NOT in the middle of February like Czech so she was visiting in the middle of April. By that point Jess and I had become good friends with Roman (featured in this post). We had met his parents when they invited us over to their house for a dinner of rabbit and stuffing!

In April we were invited to Roman’s dad’s birthday party, it happened to be during the same weekend that Julie was visiting so we brought her along. Everything started off nicely, there was a birthday toast to start the party. And so we drank some champagne. Then we ate–DELICIOUS goulash, cheese, melon and prosciutto, bread, veggies, I could go on… And we kept drinking: champagne and Pilsner Urquell, of course! Then something curious happened…

Julie,me, Lada (Roman's dad and the birthday boy) and Jess

In the Czech Republic there is a tradition that when a couple gets married, after the wedding and during the reception some people “kidnap” the bride and take her to a bar. These people (usually friends of the bride or at least people who know her somewhat) drink with her at the bar until the groom finds them and “rescues” her by paying the bar tab.

So during the birthday party Roman and his cousin went to “kidnap” the bride from a wedding that the cousin had just been at earlier that day. It turned out the bride was Australian and was marrying a guy from Karlovy Vary. Since she was Australian she obviously spoke English and so did a bunch of her friends. So that made the party a lot more interesting for us (don’t get me wrong, Roman’s family is very nice, but there’s only so much conversation you can have with people when you don’t speak each other’s languages). And because she was being “kidnapped” we had to drink with her at the bar. The bride was insistent that she drink only the good, clear liquor so we took a lot of shots of Becherovka and Slivovice (plum brandy stuff) with her.

wedding shots! courtesy of the groom!

The groom had to call one of the bride’s friends and ask for directions to where she was because we were out a hotel/restaurant that was in the middle of nowhere (only like 20 minutes from the city but it seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere). He arrived to pay the tab and rescue her and, of course, because Karlovy Vary is a “sleeping village” the groom had at one time dated the bartender at the restaurant!

We finished off the evening by eating more food (beef tartar has never tasted so delicious to me and probably never will again) and pints of Pilsner Urquell (no more Becherovka for me, thank you very much). The party wrapped up around 10:30/11, but considering that we started eating and drinking at 4pm that wasn’t a bad showing.

the Americans with the Australian bride!

Overall, it was one of the coolest experiences I had all year and something I will remember forever.

Also, I learned there was some truth in the bride’s declaration that the clear, strong liquor was the best to drink: I woke up the next morning just a little tired but not hung over, Julie and I even made a day trip to Pilzen. Hezky!


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