Czech vintners have once again pulled out the burcak (BUR-chock) for the yearly “new wine” festival. Many of the city’s neighborhoods hold these festivals, and one of the largest is just a downhill walk from our palace apartment.
Havlickovy Sady is Prague’s second largest park, and it’s also home to a thriving vineyard. This year the harvest is going to be flush, as the rain with sun and cool mornings have fattened the two varieties of grapes into massive bunches on the several-thousand vines. Burcak is young wine that is effervescent, tastes a bit fruity, and packs a decent punch.
Today at Havlickovy Sady was the main festival day, which exhibited wines, arts & crafts, and a stunning tournament show whose theme this year was Mythology and Life in Ancient Rome.
Asia and I got front row positions, standing just behind Zeus (!) standing on his pedestal. There was a procession of Greek/Roman beauties, an elephant (Asia came a bit late and was looking for me, with a phone call in which was heard the line “I’m standing near the elephant!”), Christian slaves slated for destruction, gladiators, and charioteers making slashing-dashing rounds through the tournament field.
We’d not seen so many people in this park before. It’s usually quite empty and terribly peaceful. But today there saw thousands tramping about, with jugs of burcak in hand. This is a day for picnic blankets, park benches, and strolling.
The tournament was both serious and a bit funny: the Roman legioneers couldn’t through their spears worth shit; the crowd continually called for “krew” — blood! — at the end of each gladiator bought, including when a female who held her own against a big oaf was left lame on the grass.
And then there was the Czech woman who wandered in from the crowd, quite tipsy, who came up to Neptune and grabbed his ass. A few faux-Legioneers were called in to corral her off to the side.
Overall, the show was quite dramatic, and AsiaMark were just a bit hesitant each time the chariots raced by, as what lay between us and 3,000 lbs of racing horse was a flimsy iron fence.