Last Day In Primošten: The Croatian Hospitality Industry Needs Some Attention
Thursday, August 12th, 2004: Primošten, Croatia
Like the pension in Forster’s “A Room with a View” our little villa keeps changing personalities. We all meet over breakfast and exchange our pleasantries. I find that it is either John or I that make the initial attempt at introductions. Perhaps it is so easy for us to make the first introductions because we have become so used to our journey and always meeting new people. Today there is Klaus, Edith and Hans, and Renate and her daughter Sabrina, all coincidentally from Frankfurt and environs. We are certainly a different bunch from our first group at Stara Vila. This is our last full day in Primošten. It has been a restful and largely uneventful holiday. We have our tan lines back that were gained in Australia and lost somewhere between Thailand and Turkey.
We have had the opportunity to sample pretty well all the major restaurants and bars in this tiny town and have found one common thread: there is a lack of the basics of customer service and how to attract and keep customers; it is worse than in most tourist, where normally they know at least to keep the drinks flowing. Many restaurants here keep you waiting for service, then bring your starter at the same time as your main. One restaurant took our order and then left us there to fend for ourselves for over 90 minutes. They had two items on the menu: Pizza and Spaghetti. We ordered pizza. After waiting so long, I proceed into the restaurant to inquire. Our food comes out minutes later. We then had to track down our waitress to pay the bill. This seems to be the shared complaint of all the visitors to Primošten and probably all of Croatia – one guidebook noted that Croatian restaurants have not yet recovered from the long period of isolation during the last war. Judging from all the yachts and pleasure boats lining the harbour, there is some respectable business to be done here. We have only found 1 restaurant that was worth a 2nd trip – owned by a Frenchman, with a Gallic flair to both the service and the food. We had our last meal with John and François there, and we will visit it tonight for our farewell-to-Primošten-meal.
Duscha seems to have it all figured out. Stara Vila is the nicest place to stay in Primošten, especially in the old town, and it has no real competition; every thing else seems to be winter family dwellings, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers tossed into the one room off the kitchen for the summer, their own rooms given a fresh coat of white paint and made tourist-ready for the foreign holiday-makers, their squawking, crying children in tow, who are happy to rent these four walls for their week-long vacation. Duscha’s lovely garden, the only one on the whole island that we would want to spend time in, is the envy of everyone who walks by. All the tourists stop and stare at us over breakfast or in our early evening get-togethers. Her classy yet informal and unrushed breakfasts invite her guests to linger and get to know each other.
We slowly start to move some things over to the car, which is parked across the island. We had been running back and forth to the parking lot and retrieving what we needed when we needed it. Now we begin the same process in reverse. I remember packing up from our summer cottage at Orford Lake in Quebec, filling the big wooden wheel barrow with our luggage, games, books, sleeping bags and whatever groceries were left over and rolling it past the other cottages to the railroad tracks, where we could roll no further. Dad would back the car down the hill and we would pack up the first load and this process would repeat itself for as long as it took to fill the car and head for home. We only have one small load to transport to the car today. We do some re-packing and head back to the villa for our bathing suits and some beach time.