Petting Goats Can Have Unexpected Consequences

Life Lessons of a Small Town with a Leaning Tower

First Impressions is a Prague Wandering series that chronicles the early days of expatriate life for young Americans studying in Prague. The series is intended to capture the shock and awe that many foreigners experience when venturing outside their comfort zone.

By Marilyn La Jeunesse

Photo courtesy of Marilyn La Jeunesse

Beneath these roofs, somewhere, is an all night polka party. Photo courtesy of Marilyn La Jeunesse

Just shy of 11,000 inhabitants, Domazlice, near the western German-Czech border, is surrounded by nothing but green fields. Orange-roofed houses dot the nine-square mile town. The town center, Domazlice Square, is lined with fairytale buildings from the Baroque era of construction with pastel pinks and greens that contrast with the the dull grey cobblestone roads. In the center of the square, the Leaning Town of Domazlice stands guard.

The idea of coming here was this: life far away from hustle of the Czech capital.

Our first night in the town, we were hoping to bar hop. But, our failure to research Domazlice before venturing nearly three hours out of Prague led to a series of disappointments: every pub in town was closed by 10 p.m.

So we decided to see if our hostel had anything to offer. After all, it was Friday. As we neared the doors, the sounds of bagpipes were echoing throughout the streets. Curious as to when we transported to Scotland, we hurriedly sat down at the hostel bar.

“Mostly uphill, the hike was almost impossible to do hung-over.”

“I didn’t know the Czech Republic was known for their Scottish music,” Michael joked.

“It’s not,” the owner replied. “We have had our own folk music for 1,000 years. Plus, we use dogs as the body of our instruments instead of goats, like the Scottish,” he added.

I wrinkled my nose in disgust.

“Don’t worry, these ones are not made of dog. We stopped that a while ago,” he said.

The musicians were dressed in traditional Czech folk attire: a white, long sleeve shirt covered by a black vest with colorful stitching, rust-orange high wasted pants with a belt that matches the black vest, and black, knee-high boots.

The music was upbeat, begging for us to dance along to it’s cheerful beat. And, after three rounds of Pilsner beer, we were on our feet dancing amongst the locals. Paired together, the couples Polka danced to the folk music, their feet moving gracefully across the wooden floor. While their dancing prowess was hard to compete with, our drunk American clobbering had everyone laughing. It was all eyes on us as we twerked, jerked and Dougie-d our way through the night.

After many hours of drinking and dancing, we turned in for the night, preparing ourselves for the day ahead.

We awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside our window, and the sun bursting in our room like it had all the right in the world to be there. Eight in the morning and we were ready for our four-mile hike to the top of Domazlice’s largest hill. Or so we thought.

Two miles in and we felt like we had run a marathon. Short breaks, taken on the excuse that we wanted to admire the scenery, were necessary for the completion of our adventure.

Mostly uphill, the hike was almost impossible to do hung-over. Heavy panting was the leading conversation. One slow step after another, we finally arrived at the base of our last, and most challenging hill of the hike.

Photo courtesy of Marilyn La Jeunesse

Would you be able to consume this adorable creature?  Photo courtesy of Marilyn La Jeunesse

“I can’t do it,” I said as I plopped down on the cold, wet grass.

“But the view will be so much better from the top,” Laura encouraged. “Don’t be such a baby. We didn’t come all this way for nothing.”

She began to climb. Leading the trek up to the zenith of Domazlice’s Matterhorn.

Seeing the boys catching up, I scrambled to my feet. I wasn’t going to let them win. Finally, after what seemed to be an insurmountable amount of time, I reached the summit of the hill. Wheezing, I turned around to see the tops of the orange roofs down below. The trees, a dark green under the morning fog, gave the scene an enchanting look.

The boys slowly joined us at the top, and our group looked towards the lonesome restaurant a few hundred feet away. Starving, we made our way towards the eatery.

We hurriedly ordered eight beers and a plethora of authentic Czech food, all of which incorporated some sort of bread dumpling and goat cheese. Cassidy decided to be adventurous and order venison. Matt, deciding he wanted to be funny, ordered duck and a shot of Jameson. He was presented with the crispy outside of a small bird and a glass of dark green colored liquid.

“No James-son,” the waiter said. “Just this.”

Without any other explanation, Matt took the glass, tipped his head back and let the liquid fall into his mouth.

“What was it?” Cassidy asked.

“I have absolutely no idea.”

Our meals were hearty. We left the establishment with full stomachs and renewed energy. Our time in the famous Chodsko region was coming to a close, but before we piled on the bus and headed back to Prague, our little group heard the soft “bah” of a goat.

“I want to pet a goat,” Michael exclaimed with the excitement and enamor of a three-year-old at a petting zoo. “It’s so cute! Can I keep it?”

As we made our way down to where Michael was bonding with his new friend, there were a dozen goats surrounding the fence. Their farm animal noises were irresistible. Before we knew it we were all on our knees petting the delightfully passive creatures. Then it hit me.

“Wasn’t there goat on the menu?” I asked.

Michael’s face told us the answer. His eyes big and round, a look of disgust on his face.

“Yeah, I ordered it,” he said.

Marilyn La Jeunesse is in the NYU College of Arts and Science Class of 2016.  Her hometown is Laguna Beach, California.

This article was adapted from an assignment for the travel writing class at New York University in Prague.


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Categories: Culture, Europe, Fall 2014 Issue Number 3, First Impressions, Travel

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.


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