SLOVENIA SURVIVAL GUIDE – SERVICES

Everybody, tourists and travellers alike, sometimes finds themselves in a situation that makes them wonder about things they would never think about at home.

As a Slovenian on the road, you might find yourself wondering why everybody forms a nice queue before getting on a bus in the UK, why the final price in an American shop differs from the price you saw on the shelf or why your server is giving you a funny look when you leave a couple of dollars after paying your expensive meal at a nice restaurant in the States.

There are just some things that seem logical to all of us when at home where everybody is used to doing the same thing, but as soon as we put these things into a different environment, they can easily become odd and quirky.

Here are just a couple of tips on how some things work in the service industry in Slovenia:

1. OPENING HOURS

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Opening hours differ greatly, depending on what you are after. Every shop has pretty much different working hours, usually from Monday to Friday, 7 or 8 am to 7 pm. Bigger shopping centers close later, usually around 8 or 9 pm. As for the weekends, most places have shortened working hours, if they are open at all, especially on Sundays.

Banks and certain post offices are the only ones that have breaks around lunch time for a few hours, while most other businesses stay open throughout the day.

Restaurants again are different, most starting between 11 and 12 am and staying open until late - 11 or even 12 pm. Some restaurants are open every day of the week, however some, especially in smaller towns and villages, tend to have at least one day off (often that day is Monday). In even more remote areas, some restaurants simply close down for the season, so be careful when travelling in the off period.

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Most bars and cafés (usually these are one and the same) are opened from early in the morning until late at night - 10 to 12 pm. If you still feel like staying out afterwards, I suggest you venture to some of the clubs - these open late, between 10 and 11 pm, and stay open until the early hours of the morning. If you rock up to a club at 10 pm, don’t be surprised if there is no one there, as Slovenes tend to go out late.

2. SERVICE

As far as shops go, don’t expect a chatty shop assistant in places less used to tourists. Sometimes they can also be a little bit shy in using English. In most other places, a simple dober dan (doh-behr dahn) or good day can get you far, and you might find yourself having a lovely conversation about pretty much anything.

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In restaurants and cafés it is expected of you to sit down and wait for someone to get your order (in most places you don’t have to wait to be seated). Only in nightclubs and places where it is clearly stated that it is a self-service venue, it is customary for you to order at the bar.

Sometimes they’ll ask from you to pay straight away, but mostly you are supposed to ask for the bill yourself, and sometimes they’ll let you wait patiently - so, if you’re in a hurry, you’ll be better off telling them that.

This is how an American who has been living in Slovenia for quite some time, describes the ordering ordeal in a show that airs on a Slovenian radio:

3. TIPPING

Tips are always appreciated, however they are not compulsory. It is a very nice way to give your feedback to someone for doing a good job - you can consider it a pat on the back. For coffees and cakes it is nice to round the bill to the nearest euro and even 10 cents is ok; the same goes for taxis and similar services. In restaurants, people leave about 10 %, especially if the food and the service were good.

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If you tip shop assistants or ticket clerks you might encounter a funny look, since this is not very typical, but if they put in a lot of effort in helping you out in some way, it is again a nice way of saying thank you. Or hvala (huh-vah-lah) if you want to impress!

Stay tuned for more survival tips and feel free to ask about anything you would like to know more about in the comments.

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