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Montenegro Hostel Ltd

tel. + 382 69 039 751, e-mail: montenegrohostel@gmail.com

 

 

 

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MANNERS AND CUSTOMS

Until recently one of the most popular jokes about Montenegrins was that the problems in their customer service steam from the fact that proud warriors cannot be changed overnight into humble waiters and chefs. Surely, Montenegrins are a nation in transition who are changing en route from shepherds clinging to their traditions to businessmen and tourism industry workers. These changes are also causing a transformation of the national temperament: once stiff and sober in order to remain heroic and just, modern day Montenegrins are more relaxed, reckless and hedonistic. Their feisty humor is unbeatable and ever-present, delivered in such way that one wonders whether to laugh nor to take seriously. In so far as these generalizations hold true Montenegrins are very intelligent, witty and quick to learn. In their talents are put to good use they become top artists, managers, professors and doctors who complete with the best in their field elsewhere in the world.

As a nation, Montenegrins are very warmhearted and welcoming.  Hospitality is the dearest obligation of every host, be it the person you are staying with, a good friend or just an acquaintance; don’t be surprised if you are treated to coffee or rakija by total by a total stranger as many people consider in a honor to have visitor in their far-flung corner of the earth. Hospitality is practiced particularly in rural areas where it is treated with an air of seriousness and where is often tends of eating and drinking.

When meeting people for the first time shake hands sturdily, say your first name or it presented by someone else with and the phrase “Drago mi je “ ( Pleased to meet you). Formal greetings are “Dobro jutro!” ( Good morning, but note that this used only in the early morning, not at 11 a.m. like in English), “Dobar dan!” ( Good day!) and “Dobro veče” (“Good evening, and only at dusk and during the evenings). On formal occasions surnames and names are preceded with titles “gospodin” for Mister, “gospodjica” for Miss, and “gospodja” for Mrs. Stand up when you are meeting older people and women but try not to be formal. On meeting the people you already know shake hand s and say either “Zdravo!” ( Hello) or , even more casually, “Dje si ?” ( What is up?). Younger women will kiss friends on the check instead of shaking hands, but will do this only this they know well.  When meeting old friends on the check instead of shaking hands, but will do this only with those they know well. When meeting old friends after a longer period or any kind of celebration it is usual to kiss on alternate cheeks two or three times and even hug affectionately. A fair amount of physical contact ( tapping on the shoulder, taking by the hand and similar)is usual and should be viewed as an act of closeness. The some hugging and kissing procedure precedes cordial departures. The usual goodbyes are formal “Dovidjenja!” (Goodbye) or more familiar “Zdravo!” or “Ćao” (Ciao).

Although at their first meeting with you Montenegrins may seem a bit reserved this is likely to disappear after only a few minutes. Anyone whom they met several times is counted as a friend and treated to intimate stories; proportionally they will show interest in your life, political views, likes and dislikes or other topic you might find unusual but this should not offend since it is considered a normal basic for conversation.

On entering someone’s house you will be treated to a coffee ( almost always a strong black one), rakija or a juice, possibly homemade. If offered, don’t miss the delicious preserves called slatko, served in small pots, on which you should take one or two teaspoons. On first entering a household it is customary to bring with you a small symbolic gift- a bottle of wine, some coffee, chocolate, flowers or something similar. When toasting say “Živjeli” or when drinking with only one person “Zdravo bili” ( May you be healthy); it is very important to touch glasses and look into the eyes of the people you are toasting with. Beware that your glass will be refilled as soon as you have finished it, the best defense against this is to leave a sip or two until you are prepared to leave. It happens frequently that people are invited to lunch or dinner and you should not hesitate as it is not purely a gesture of politeness.

During meals there are not too many rules to obey. Helping yourself to some more food without hesitation is not unusual and will spare you the even larger amounts or food your hosts are likely to serve you. Try to taste everything you are offered so as not to offend the host. The courses ( appetizer, soup, main dish and dessert) are accompanied by saying “Prijatno!” ( Bon appetite) and answering “Hvala, takodje!” ( Thanks, the same to you). The greatest honor for every guest is to be invited to a slava, the celebration of a family’s saint day. The most common amongst them are Nikoljdan (St Nikola’s -19th December), Arandjelovdan ( St Michael-21st November), Jovandan (St John’s -20th of January) and Djurdjevdan ( St George’s -6th of May) when the most people roam around visiting their friends and relatives. You could bring a small, symbolic gift, but you will be accepted equally even if you don’t it. The most conventional greetings is “Srećna slava” followed by kissing on the cheeks. Upon entering the house you will be offered žito-a wheat , nuts and honey cake of which you should take a spoon or two after making the sign of the cross ( if you are Cristian, of course). After this all you should do is enjoy yourself and drink eagerly at all the toasts. The local’s skills in foreign languages depend on their age and education. Most of the younger people will at least understand English and will know a couple of phrases. The second language spoken is Italian, then Russian and more rarely German. Knowledge of any Slavic language is fairly useful as many words and phrases ae common or similar.

Govoritel li engleski /ruski/ italijanski/ njemački?- Do You speak English/ Russian/ Italian /German?

If invited for a drink for a drink in café it is highly probable that your host will strongly insist on paying the whole bill. As there is no point in arguing it is bet to buy a round yourself when he/she is not around to pay, but be careful not to equal the amount as the might be considered offensive. Sharing payment around the table is not considered convivial. Ask to add some money but try not too precise as bargaining over cents is considered avaricious. Montenegrins are not formal in the least when it comes to clothing. Most of them tend to overdress but there are few occasions in private life apart from wedding or funerals when there is a dress code to obey.

Though Montenegrin girl dress provocatively and act quit too much e free one should not expect too much from the first few “dates”. Patriarchal morality still looms over and is society as small as that Montenegro no girl wants to be labeled as “easy going”.

When asking for something politely use the phrase “molim Vas” ( please), Using this at the end of each and every sentence will be considered much too formal so try to apply in only when you are really in need of something.

Bartering is not customary and will be tolerated only a certain places for instance greenmarkets, provided you are willing to spend a somewhat larger amount of money.

Business Hours: Government and business offers usually work from 8 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. Department stores and supermarkets are generally open from 8 am to 9 pm.  24 hours shops ok kiosks are common. Most restaurants are open till midnight. This is also when the cafes and and clubs should turn music off.

Churches: Most of the large town churches are open throughout the day whilst those in village are open only at service times, usually at 8:30 am at 5 pm. Upon entering the church one is required to act politely, not to lough or raise your voice. Enter decently dressed –no swimsuits, shorts, miniskirts or even uncovered shoulders. Take you hat off. Women are expected to cover their heads although this rule is too strictly obeyed. In orthodox churches women are not allowed in the sanctuary behind the iconostasis. Moving around during service is not encouraged and men should keep to the right while women to the left of the church. Ask for permission if you want to take pictures, especially in the church.

Electric current: 220 Volts with plugs of two round pins.

Local Time is GTM + 1 hour. From end of March to end of October the time is GTM+2 hours.

Museums rarely open every day. Most are closed on Monday but some close on Sunday. Specific opening hours are provided in the texts on particular museums. Last entrance is usually 30 to 40 minutes before closing time.

Tipping is not obligatory but it is usual in taxis and restaurants to round up to sum to the nearest whole followed with the phrase. “U redu” je OK, provided you are satisfied with the service, of course. The applies even to the smallest bills.

Weights and Measures. The metric system is used in Montenegro, the same as the rest of continental  Europe. The unit of length is metar for weight it’s gram for capacity.

Holidays

January 1st and 2nd- New Year’s Day

January 7th and 8th- Orthodox Christmas

May 1st and 2nd- May day

May 21st –Independence Day

July 13th- Statehood Day

 

Montenegro Hostel Team

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