“Goulash” and “Pivo” – the two words we could understand from the man sitting at the long picnic table outside this quaint Czech restaurant. We stared helplessly at the menu that lacked familiar English terms. This local establishment was miles outside the city center, which we stumbled upon after wandering through the non-commercial areas of Prague.
Reid and I were the only English-speaking customers. A man sitting on the bench with friends noticed our inability to comprehend the menu and repeated boldly, “Goulash, Pivo”! A girl came to take our order, and Reid ordered what the man had said. I pointed to another item on the menu and awaited the surprise. When our beers arrived, we toasted with the man and his friends at the shared table. “Prost!” they said as they held their beers high. “Prost” we responded, but the conversation was stunted as a result of our language barrier. We enjoyed the true local experience that was completely removed from the hectic, tourist-drenched city of Prague.
The following night we walked into the city center and located the bottellion, the word we learned in Spain when people bring their own alcohol to the plaza. A couple sat on the floor of the large plaza that was splattered with groups of people drinking among the statues and archaic buildings. We stood to absorb the energy. In search of a nightclub, I asked the couple siting on the ground only a few feet away. The girl spoke broken English, a blessing. She was not from Prague, nor had she heard of the club. She said, “We come for Czech Tech”. Intrigued, I asked, “What is Czech Tech?”
That was the sound of a door creaking open to allow for a new journey. Reid and I were fascinated with the idea of Czech Tech. This new destination was not an easy process. We asked the locals. We searched the Internet. The information was only given in Czech. We finally found a Czech speaking worker at the hostel who helped us with the phone number and translated the information. In a rented car, we headed towards Marianske Lazne, the Czech Tech location. After stocking up at Tesco, the local market in Plezn, we continued east. Plezn is the town where they make Pilsner Urquell.
We turned off the main highway and circled into a state of lost confusion for about thirty minutes, at which point we decided to pick up a few hitchhikers. They had been traveling for several days; two boys and a girl, in search of this phenomenon. We finally came across the mass migration, located Czech Tech with the night sky heavy and dark above. Many people were walking for miles through the sprawling landscape. The sound and lights guided our movement off the beaten path.
Reid and I settled the car. The music carried us to join 10,000 others in this free festival entirely created to bring people together under the stars. We came across an enormous field with lights and sounds. We had arrived. European youth had traveled across several countries to play, to spin, to dance. Fire dancers were performing. I watched in awe as the fire dancers swirled flames around their expressive body movements. We found several sound stages erected to harbour the music of DJs. Lights and video contraptions were situated throughout the thumping beats to add visual stimulation.
The stage gave us the most energy. We danced to the music of disk jockeys known throughout the European circuit. We returned to the car and fell asleep to the beats vibrating throughout the vehicle and into our dreams. Looking at the festival in daylight presented a different story. Tents were scattered throughout the field. People danced in the distance. The wheat colored land stretched until it collided with the tall green foliage in the distance. This festival was massive. From afar, a cluster of fire engines, ambulances and police vehicles were on the hill, overlooking the safety of this sea of people. We were like cats attempting to claw into the fishbowl. We lacked the ability to fully assimilate for we did not speak the language, but the music was universal.
It took two days to find the porta-potties, people stank, the allure had faded; time to find a new door, a new destination. Czech Tech was an unexpected path that brought us slightly closer to the local lifestyle, the music and the land.