The Elderly Man

Here’s a travel story from my trip to Croatia. Enjoy!
This happened on 16 December, 2013


There I was, standing in front of the bus station in Split. I had just arrived from Zagreb and now I needed to figure out where the hostel was located. It looked like fairly simple directions yet somehow I ended up wandering around behind Diocletian’s Palace for an hour. After asking a few residents where the street was located (which had no street sign and some residents didn’t know about) I found the hostel. After I got settled in I knew that there was one important thing I needed to do: find food. I went back outside, consulting my all-knowing map when an old man (70 + years old maybe) walked up to me and starts talking. He didn’t understand much English and I didn’t understand much Croatian but I understood that he wanted me to rent the back room of his house for 200 kuna per night ($35.88 USD at the time). I politely said no and he promptly dropped the price to 150 kuna per night. I handed him the paper with the hostel information on it and attempted to tell him I already had accommodations but due to our mutual lack of understanding, my efforts were futile.

Finally, he knocks on his neighbors door and hands the guy my paper with the hostel information on it. The neighbor is confused. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s wondering why he’s supposed to be looking at this paper and I say, “That’s where I’m staying but he doesn’t understand me.” Luckily, for me, the neighbor speaks English and he kindly explains things to the old fella. Now I’ve disappointed an old man. At least until he starts hugging me and kissing my cheeks!

I didn’t think anything unusual of  it because I grew up listening to my dad tell stories about how his Grand-Auntie used to greet him and pinch his cheeks. I thought that maybe folks in Dalmatia (southern region of Croatia) are just super friendly.

As we’re walking back to the hostel he asks my name. I tell him and then he stops me and gives me more kisses on the cheek! Folks in Croatia love my name because it means “Christ” and they’re religious. Anyway, when we get back to the hostel he asks if I want to eat and I decline his offer. He starts kissing my cheek again but this time he starts getting closer to my lips and that’s when I pat him on the shoulder and say goodbye!

He walked away and as soon as he turned the corner I covertly peer around it to make sure he’s gone.  PHEW! No sign of him. I begin wandering around Diocletian’s Palace, trying to decide where I want to eat, when I see him outside my restaurant of choice. I quickly turn around and check out another area but end up cautiously returning to the restaurant, hoping the old man wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t! I go inside the restaurant and guess who’s inside sitting at a table? That’s right, my spurned lover!

Awkward…

Next time I won’t forget my English-Croatian dictionary/phrasebook. Most people in Zagreb speak English (and speak it better than Americans) so I guess the thought to pack my phrasebook never even crossed my mind this time. A lesson well learned!

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