Saturday, 25 June 2022
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Have you ever been asked your marital status to get a meal?

Written by  Mar 13, 2022

Have you ever been asked your marital status to get a meal? “Unfortunately, we don’t have any free tables and we already have a couple outside waiting for the next free one,” said the waiter rather apologetically.

Full! It was like the restaurant were doing a special offer of 90 percent off the normal price. I had my doubts that we would get a table. The parking outside the restaurant was rammed. And as the biting north wind whipped down the mountains people were actually waiting in the cold to get a table. Like half of Dubrovnik we had decided to go for Sunday lunch across the border around Trebinje. I say half of Dubrovnik for of all the parked cars outside this packed restaurant only three cars didn’t have DU number plates, but I’m guessing they were probably the chefs and waiter’s cars.

Having been turned away from the first one we headed further into the mountains only to be greeted by another precession of DU cars outside the next one. “We’ve got one table left in the corner,” said the next waiter. “We’ll take it,” I answered.

And it wasn’t until we sat down that we noticed all the familiar faces around us. “Oh, Englez, dobar tek,” came from all sides. Now I could eat just about anything as long as its cooked “under the bell.” I could easily have breakfast, lunch and dinner (and a snack in between) as long as it involved those meat-soaked potatoes!

So I’ll return to my original question. Have you been asked your marital status before you went for a meal?

OK, it wasn’t actually at the restaurant, but at the border, the same border I can see every day as soon as I open my front door. Funnily enough I had the same problematic situation at the French border when I was driving back from the UK at Christmas. Oh, the joys of Brexit!

“Are you married?” said the border control lady as I handed over my red UK passport and my wife’s blue one. “Yes, why?” I asked. “Because if you’re married I don’t have to stamp your passport,” she replied. Déjà vu! At the French border after Christmas the guards were even stricter and my marital status and the fact I had a Croatian residence card were the only ways I could actually have crossed the border into the EU.

I know I should have, and indeed could have, got my Croatian papers around 20 years ago. However, recent border experiences have drastically accelerated my need. So much so that I went to the police station to ask about starting the process. Only to be greeted with the question, “Mark, why didn’t you do this years ago?” Yes, I’m a little slow, nothing new there. I now possess the list of papers I need and I have to say it doesn’t look too complicated, well at least for now, I’m sure there be a few “mines” along the way.

It all seems a little sad and indeed ironic that one nation is now absolutely desperate to become a member of the European family to protect their future, whilst the UK went the other way.

And in these days of rising prices, fuel in particular, we’ll probably all be heading north to buy our petrol over the border. I’m going to need that ID card more than ever.

“Why do you think these restaurants are full and yet in Dubrovnik at this time of the year they are empty?” said the French friend next to me as the plate full of meat and potatoes landed on my table. More food arrived and the table started to groan under the weight. “I’m guessing that the fact that this whole table of food will cost me less than 180 Kuna plays a part in that,” I smiled. “Although if the petrol prices keep going up then we could well be walking or riding a bike here in the future,” he replied with a broad grin.

And that could well be one outcome of this horrible invasion, less dependency on carbon based fuels and more sustainable ones.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to


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