Sunday, August 31, 2008

Valdstejn Festival

This weekend we had a big festival in Cheb to celebrate Albrecht Wallenstein (or Valdstejn in Czech). You can see some information about it in Czech here
There are some pictures there too. It was really a lot of fun.
So a little very vague background information, Wallenstein was this general who got a little power hungry back in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and decided to just take over all sorts of places. He was gaining more power than the Emperor, which obviously no Emperor can allow to happen, and he was therefore murdered right here in a building on Cheb Square. The really funny thing is that he wasn't Czech, and he was kind of a bad guy, and he was murdered by the authorities basically, but now they have this massive festival revolving around him. Doesn't really make much sense, but it was a lot of fun.
On Friday it started with a medieval market in the square and then his march into town.
He then gave a speech that we couldn't really understand a word of. But it was all pretty fun. The coolest bit was that a bunch of the people in costume were hanging out at the pub right below our flat so I was able to sneak this picture without them even realizing it.

That was pretty much the end of the festivities for the night. The next day, however, it was an all day event. It started with the market again. We bumped into this American guy, Caleb, who lives here in town, with his adorable daughter Misha. She'd been really cranky the night before, but today she was a whole new person and had a great time catching fish!

After hanging out at the market for a while, we made our way to the castle where Laura had information that "something" would be happening. We weren't exactly sure what, but we'd heard rumors of free food, which is always a big draw to me. I'm not a big eater, I just always like it when I don't have to pay for food, because having to pay for something that keeps you alive always seems a little bit wrong to me. Go figure.
We stood in line for ages, not really sure why we were even in there, but in the end we were rewarded. We were able to go into the castle for free where we got some great views of the new steeples on St Mikolas, as well as getting to see the performers hanging out in costume. Oh yes, and we got our free chicken! Go us!

After that we went down to see the battle by the river. We couldn't really see very much as there were tons of people there. But we at least got to see Wallenstein as he taught the young boys how to go to war :)

In the evening Laura and I were back at the square to sample the interesting food choices. She was super excited about everything, and convinced me we should try out the crazy meat. Anyone who knows me very well knows that trying out strange meat is usually not something that I'm super excited about, but I went for it anyway. Naturally I chose the thing that was the closest to a hotdog. Laura was a bit braver than I and went for the one with the black skin. Just couldn't bring myself to do that one. I did have some Kofola on tap though. Always a treat :)

In the evening there was a massive fireworks display. It was really quite impressive. I think it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in Cheb actually. It's just so bizarre that they went through so much work to celebrate this random person. Ah well. Now I just need to get to the museum to finally see his bedroom and the infamous bloody pajamas that he was killed in. Good times.

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