I have been abandoned in Split. Claudia and I kidnapped a young Australian girl named Steph who we met on our walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace. At the end of the tour, I am surprised when Claudia turns to Steph and asks “Would you like to join us for lunch?” Claudia’s simple gesture of hospitality is one that we have seen repeated by Croatians and fellow tourists throughout our trip.
It is ironic that although I learn the language of the country before I travel, we usually spend our international vacations talking to waiters and shopkeepers. However, this trip to Croatia is different. Croatians are warm, friendly people. Their desire to connect with each other can be seen in their eyes and their smiles as they sit at outdoor tables sipping drinks and watching the crowd stroll by.
On our third day, as I sit sipping a glass of wine in an outdoor lounge, it finally dawns on me what is missing from Croatian coffee shops; electronics. Croatians are not hunched over, doubled chinned, staring at their phones. They do not look like androids with white wires connecting their ears to their laptop. Their phones are not on the table standing sentry to their social interactions. Their eyes do not nervously, continually glance at its screen in case some important Facebook, snapchat, Instagram, twitter, text notification might go unnoticed and unanswered for more than ten seconds. The eyes of the Croatians in their gathering places are on each other, not on their hand held devices. All you have to do is smile and say “Dobar Dan” or “Bok” and you will find an enthusiastic participant for an enjoyable conversation.