INSIDER TIPS FOR A GREAT HOLIDAY

HOW I SURVIVED MY FIRST DAY AS A GUIDE

 I grew up in Dubrovnik, city that had always been involved in tourism. In my family I had an aunt who worked for Dubrovnik Tourist Board in late 60’ (when the tourism started its blossom here) and worked as a tour guide as well. I always looked up at her and I was so impressed with her knowledge in history and all other topics, she spoke different languages and travelled a lot. For me, that was exactly what I wanted to do in my life. Years went by, so easily I learned three foreign languages because I wanted to understand the lyrics of the songs I liked. Of course I chose tourism related majors and after I graduated from the University of Dubrovnik it was time to start working. So, I signed up to become a tour escort for one of the leading travel agencies in Croatia. After the interview I got the job as a tour escort in English, French and Spanish. Wow! I was so happy… no, I was ecstatic! God knows how many books and travel guides I read, I knew every single stone there is and I was so confident… or at least I thought I was.

dub

So, the day has come, my colleague from the logistic department called me and said, tomorrow the driver will pick you up at the bus station and you will pick up the group at the airport, no big deal, just a short transfer to hotel in Cavtat. Words “o big deal” hit me as a rocket. What does she mean it’s not a big deal, it is my first group? I woke up much earlier than I was supposed to, got dressed and left the apartment. On my way to the bus station I honestly felt my heart beating in my throat, hands sweating, mouth completely dry and I wanted to cry. How the hell am I going to do this?


dub Plane landed, I stood at the doorway holding the sign when I saw the group coming straight towards me. I said “Bonjour, beinvenue a Dubrovnik, l’autocar blanc est la” – piece of cake! I counted the passengers, tour leader gave me the sign they are all in and the driver told me to take a seat because he will now close the door. Panic attack incoming!!! As he closed the door I thought I was going to faint because that was it, the moment I looked forward to so much. The first time I took the microphone was so scary and I can still remember that feeling when I turned my head around and discovered that 49 pax are looking at me waiting for me to tell them something useful. I was petrified. So I said my first Bonjour and the group replied… I thought to myself – Ok, I survived this one, I can take another one. At the beginning I felt as if I was taking the exam and I had 49 judges in front of me. I did it, I survived my first transfer from the airport to the hotel (luckily situated 5 min drive from the apt), told them all the info they might need during their stay in Dubrovnik. I felt as if I was on top of the world.
The thing I learned that day – don’t talk too much, money, water, buses, exchange offices and retails are MUST – everything else, I’ll tell them tomorrow

I felt as if I was on top of the world when my phone rang and Nives from the logistic department said, congrats, it is your first full day tour tomorrow. - Neretva River Delta

Damn, what the hell am I going to do now? This was so easy but full day tour and especially the tour that involves a lot of driving, a lot of explanations, I am sure I will die tomorrow. Everyone who ever guided French groups know their passion in birds and flowers and I can only tell the difference between rose and orange, sparrow and eagle and that’s it… I knew all the history and who ruled where and when and how they got killed but please do not mention a single flower. The day started with heavy rain, we could not see a thing from the bus and I thought to myself – GOOD, but there was another shock! We had to take the boat and sail to the other part of the lake – completely wet from dragging all those French ladies (very old ladies) I took the seat and we sailed… It was pouring rain when we stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere and I looked at the group smiling back at me – OK, we’ll survive this day too. What I learned then – smile can take you anywhere, no limits… And that is what the group said to me – the tour was awful, we will get sick, but what kept us warm was your smile - so smile, even when the day is rotten - smile 

After I did who knows how many tours and overland tours I joined the office and started creating tours but sill my heart wanted to guide. So I combined my two passions, and by combined I really mean that since I started my own travel agency where I do both.

 

dubrovnik116 years later – Dubrovnik walking tour
I stood at Pile Gate, waiting for a young tour escort to bring the group to me for a walking tour. I was relaxed, having a coffee, laughing with my dear friend and colleague Julia (my favorite guide for Spanish groups) when I saw bus coming to the parking lot. I caught tour escorts look and it just hit me, I felt her pain, I felt her panic and I thought to myself “this has to be her first transfer ever”. I ran to her because I knew that was exactly what she needed, to see a local guide for her group who will tell her – go and have a coffee; I have it all under the control. This was the moment that made me write this blog and to let all young guides and the beginners that when all the stress is gone and when you stop sweating in front of the group you can relax and take it easy. I’m not saying you don’t have to do the job professionally but you learn that you have to enjoy the tour and make it as if you are on holiday. I still remember my first Dubrovnik walking tour when I took the guests to see the parts of Rector’s palace (which I doubt even the Rector knew they exist).

Dear colleague Antea looked at me and told me to give the group 5 minutes break. She said to me – I know you, I know you know all this by heart but stop little girl, you are boring them, no need to visit every single part of the city, choose the most important and the most interesting parts and go! I agreed on that one.

Next walking tour wasn’t that detailed but I still thought of guiding as a job where the jokes are not welcomed and that I should be serious all the time. But that’s just not me, I have to make a joke now and then and there are so many stories I just love to add to regular tour

 So I decided to do it my way, I found the perfect amount of talking the group can handle but I also found out how you take the mistake to your favors. Standing in front of Sponza palace I had to say – name coming from Italian word meaning the sponge but I automatically said – SpongeBob Squarepants and instead of millions of apologies I started laughing and the group followed. So probably, after reading all of this you would not think of me as a guide who gets dressed in a disguise and on top of the city walls of Dubrovnik screams – Where are my dragons, but I have to disappoint you and tell you that is exactly how I do my tours! And although I am lousy with singing and it sounds as if someone is killing a wild animal I always finish the tour by singing – and now, the end is near so I face the final curtain. Regrets I had a few, but than again too few to mention…lalalalalala… I did it my way!!!!!!

Looking forward to see you on my tour!