(Don't) Talk To a Dalmatian About ...
As experienced hosts to a great number of people who have visited their region so far, people in Dalmatia are welcoming and friendly towards the visitors. They will show you the way without blinking an eye, help you out no matter what, patiently answer the same questions for the 100th time. However, when your curiosity takes you into a variety of topic avenues, know that some presuppositions won’t be appreciated. At all. So, here are a few basic guidelines for striking up conversation with the locals.
1. Speak Croatian?
The language is called Croatian, not matter what the linguists say (and they’ll say that the languages spoken in Croatia and its neighbouring countries are practically the same with a few variations). So, that’s how you refer to it, when you want to ask about an expression in the local language.
2. Mine field
Twenty years have passed since the war of independence of Croatia ended and younger generations won't remember much about it, but it's a generally sensitive topic because the repercussions are still very much present in society. So, don't go there unless you feel really, really curious about it.
3. Sports, sports, sports
You may not be a sports fan, but a small nation with magnificent sports results likes to talk about it. A lot. Even though a lot revolves around football (national team, traditional rivalry between Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split, local football clubs in every major town, village and hamlet), there are cities such as Zadar where the number one sports topic is in fact basketball. Just try not to call into question the claim that they created basketball or to suggest which is the best football team and you’ll be fine.
4. Explaining the inexplicable
You’ve heard about fjaka, but nobody can really explain what it refers to? And what’s with those invitations to have coffee and then you order beer? This is not something to talk about or have it explained - once you’ve tried it, you’ll know. Simple as that.
5. Doggy, staaaay!
Yes, Dalmatians as in a breed of dog originate from Dalmatia. No, not everyone in the region owns one nor are the towns and beaches full of dogs. Just for the record.
6. Say a little prayer
A vast majority of Croatians declare themselves as catholics regardless of the actual number of church goers. But you won't know it unless you specifically ask, so making fun or criticizing church may not be a very good idea.
Let’s talk about …
Anything, really. After all, people in Dalmatia are only people - they may not like to talk about certain topics, but on a good, sunny summer day, over a good cup of coffee (or beer), who knows? Just don't assume or take things for granted (because it's in the guidebook), but rather ask. And you’ll be sure to get an answer. Because that's what good hosts are there for.
Image source: www.zadarskilist.hr, www.veterina.info, www.zadarskanadbiskupija.hr