Behaving Like a Local in Split, in Ten Short Lessons
There are tourists who don't really wish to adjust to local community; they prefer to bring their world with them wherever they go. There is another category, people who love to blend in with locals, and to behave by customs and habits which make some place and its people different and unique. If you are among them, here are some important behaviour patterns which will bring you closer to be Splićani. It could be a "zero" lesson - "Splićani" (pron. spleechahnee) are people living or originated in Split.
1. Always, but really always wear sunglasses. There is a joke about a girl from Split entering a café without sunglasses, and nobody recognized her. Weather is irrelevant. If it's sunny, wear them on your nose. If it's cloudy, wear them on top of your head. Rule applies to both women and men.
2. Never, but really never go swimming with sunglasses. Unless, of course, there are some medical reasons for that. Splićani enjoy having fun in the sea water, and it's hardly possible with sunglasses. Further, if salt damages your glasses, you won't be able to respect rule number one. The only way you can do it is not to wet your head, and then others will look at you with a compassion, thinking that something is wrong.
3. "Let's have a coffee" is a social password for any kind of daytime socializing. Invitation doesn't necessary mean coffee drinking, what is important is to sit and chat, and anything liquid can be in front of you. Time of a day vary, working hours are the best. Good place to go is wherever you will be able to see who is passing by, no matter if you are in the middle of Riva or in some café squeezed among apartment buildings in Split 3. It's not so important to be seen, but you must see. And make those who are passing important part of your conversation over coffee.
4. We talk loud, and there is nothing to be done about that. I remember a popular Facebook group called "We don't yell; we in Dalmatia talk like that". If you hear two or more people who sound like arguing, more likely it's just a friendly chat. It seems nobody really cares if others will hear what they are talking about. On a contrary, those whispering are more suspicious. What do they have to hide, if you can't hear them from the neighboring table? Of course, it's hard to live by that rule in a foreign language, but at least you will know what is happening around you. What really matters is that yelling, screaming and howling in a residential neighborhood in the middle of the night, especially under any kind of influence, don't fit in this story. Therefore, don't be surprised if someone responds in a way you won't like.
5. Wherever you sit, whatever you drink, whatever you do, from time to time you need to look up, take a deep breath and say "This is priceless", or in Split dialect "Ko ovo more platit". If there is something you don't like is happening, or you're encountering something that creates a problem for you, there is a variation: "This is possible only here", or locally "ovoga nema nigdi na svitu".
6. Dress up according to a calendar, and not according to weather. If in September temperature drops to 15 degrees Celsius, keep wearing short sleeves, because it's normal for that part of the year. If in March temperature rise to 15 degrees Celsius, keep wearing jacket, because it's normal for that part of the year.
7. No matter what the weather is like, talk about it. Some English people told me they have never heard anyone talking so much about the weather, and they should know. There are several common phrases, depending on a weather situation. If it rains longer than two hours, you need to say "I wonder when it will stop". Shortly after sun replaces clouds, phrase is "I'm fed up with this heat". There is a basic rule: opposite weather is always better in that very moment.
8. In local geography "town" has nothing to do with legal boundaries or a territory of whole Split. For us, town is only city center, what used to be Split in the Middle Ages. "Let's go to town" ("Idemo u grad") doesn't mean going from some neighboring village to Split, but walk or drive to the old town. Everything else is "out of hand" ("vanka ruke"), even if you live just around the corner.
9. Splićani love sport. And they love winners. They especially love winners from Split, because winners from any other part of the planet can't compare with them. If someone is just a winner, it's one thing. Real success comes only if talking about it can be followed with "he/she is from Split". The only exception is football club Hajduk. As the old saying goes, it's the best team in the world and surrounding area, no matter if it wins or loses. That's why Hajduk fans survive team's results in recent years.
10. You should be critical on everything around you. Even if something is the best in the world, find an objection. It doesn't matter if it's sunshine, rain, crowd, empty streets, noise, silence, low prices, high prices, sport wins, sport losses, etc. There is one little trap about it: outsiders are not allowed to talk against Split. If you managed that your opinion about Split is relevant, you made it.
(Previously published on https://visitsplit.com/en/2504/blending-in-split-ten-ways-to-behave-like-a-local)