No Liquids and No Gondoliers

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The post office here is not the friendliest place on Earth.

Of the handful of times I’ve been to Hrvatska Pošta, the service operated by the Republic of Croatia, I’ve tried to give it a second and third chance. Maybe it’s just my lack of knowledge of the language or of their process that’s the problem. Or maybe the level of customer service here is just a different standard. A less friendly standard. Sometimes even a harsh standard.

When you walk into the post office, it’s kind of like a deli counter where you have to take a number at an electronic kiosk. The screen is all in Croatian, and you get a different ticket if you’re mailing something than if you’re doing a money transfer or other services the post office provides. I’ve had to hold my phone up on my Google Translate app to figure it out what kind of ticket to select. People behind me have been a little impatient about that.

I’ve noticed that the concept of lines here barely exists. When we were boarding a bus at a Krka National Park last month, for example, it felt like we were in danger of being trampled. Even at some of the groceries, I’ve seen people crowd the cashiers and try to cut ahead if they have fewer items. I would imagine that’s why they have a strict line system at the post office.

But even when I thought it was my turn, the clerk said no. My ticket clearly said I was in the right line. There was no one behind me, and I thought maybe I selected the wrong kind of ticket. I gave the clerk a confused look and she finally let me proceed. I needed a box to package my items, and when she saw one of the things I wanted to mail, she said no. It was a bottle of tightly sealed olive oil, a prized good of this region. No, my parents will not be getting Istrian olive oil delivered. No liquids allowed.

I left a little frustrated, still wondering what I did wrong with the line system and how I could get around the mailing liquids issue, when I decided to do something more relaxing.

While Sarge and I had our coffee on the lanai this morning, I told him I wished I could find another old lady to sing to me, like the Nonna I never had. He told me to go find the guy with the rowboat who takes people from the car side of Zadar to the pedestrian-filled Old Town. So I did.

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I walked around the marina in search of the rower, what they refer to here as a “barkajoli.” I wanted it to be like Venice, where a gondolier might sing to me while we crossed the water. That was not to be today. My barkajoli was on his cell phone the whole time.

Still, it was a lovely jaunt that was more peaceful than the footbridge. The passenger beside me was friendly, spoke a little English, and let me know the charge for the service was only 5 Kuna (less than a dollar).

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As I write this, I’m in a café, where I could really use a glass of water. Cold tap water would be perfect, not all of this water “with gas.” But I’m going to have to stalk the waiter if I want a refill. Service here is different. You can order one cup of coffee and sit in a café all morning an no one will care that you are taking up a table.

Maybe being here will teach me to relax, take my time and not rush the check. Unless I’m in line at the post office. Then I’ll have to learn to push ahead and get my package in the mail.

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22 thoughts on “No Liquids and No Gondoliers

  1. I love reading your blog. What a great experience for all of you. I think you need to box up your package then take it to the post office. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Christina! I think you are right. I will have to box it up first. How else am I going to send Croatian cherry liqueur overseas at Christmas?

  2. Ha! I had fun shipping a box of souvenirs collected from a six week trip. It was a half day trying to sort out how packaging and finding a place to send it from in Dubai. Worked out in the end and received all my goods…6 months after I shipped them. It was like Christmas opening it though.

  3. I think when Americans leave their country they expect other countries to work the same way. Lack of experience living elsewhere. Don’t everything so personally. No one is thinking the same way over there. Who has that kind of time? See the humour in it and laugh about it because it won’t change.

    1. Jacqueline, you are right. Most of the differences are worth celebrating. Maybe not things involving lines 😉

  4. I haven’t been to Croatia, but in my experience, doing things at the post office in Europe is just nerve-wracking! It’s hard when it’s not your first language but you need to do something important. Also, yeah, a lot of places in Europe seem to be similar in that they won’t bug you and try to get you to leave the restaurant…you can just hang out as long as you like!

  5. I think I would be confused too if I was clearly waiting in line then the staff would tell me now when it’s my turn. I gotta agree, they are a bit rude. I’m not sure if I can handle living in a place where people are rude. I encountered rude people in Vietnam and I was like traumatized already.

    So they don’t allow to mail liquids? That’s weird. I wonder why they don’t allow it.

  6. Awww I’m sorry to hear about your situation at the post office. That’s gotta be frustrating. I remember when I went to the post office in Korea, I was also really confused. They had three different ticket dispensers and I had no clue which counter I had to go to for my package. Luckily someone came to help me, but I know how helpless that feeling can be sometimes. Best of luck during your travels 🙂

    1. I guess it wasn’t that bad in retrospect, but my mom in the States still hasn’t gotten letters we sent a month and a half ago. I’m learning patience!

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