One of my favorite characters

Many visitors to Dubrovnik never wander far from the Stradun but there is so much more to see in the city. Let me take you off that main street and introduce you to one of my favorite people.

Parallel to the Stradun is a small street named ‘Ulica od Puca’. Translated it means ‘the Street of Wells’.  This was the place for the inhabitants who resided inside of the city wall to draw water from wells.  The street used to be lined with small shops where the tailor, the shoe repair, the thread lady, watch repair and many more unique and interesting services for household needs could be found.  Now it is filled with many souvenir shops, sadly with only a few offering local homemade items. Most sell simply trinkets made in a country halfway around the world to unsuspecting tourists.

Ulica od Puca

Ulica od Puca

However there has been one constant which stands out as one of my favorite places to pop my head inside and greet the owner with Dobro Jutro.  It is Muski Frizerski Salon, loosely translated as ‘a man’s barber shop’. Hrvoje Cikato is the current owner and is known to his good friends as Ciki (chick-ee).   This Salon has been a family run barber/shave shop for the past one hundred years. Ciki learned his trade by watching and helping his father and grandfather since he was old enough to walk to the shop from his family home in the old town.  Ciki is of my generation, born just after the end of WWII and is always one of the more interesting local characters.  No longer a resident of the old part of town, he was part of the large exodus of residents who moved away after the Homeland War destroyed their home, but is still a permanent fixture on the street we call ‘Puca.’

Shop was totally destroyed during the homeland war in 1991

Shop was totally destroyed during the homeland war in 1991

Before I head to bed, I flip the remote to channel 813, Dubrovnik’s local television station. When there is no programming they show a live view of the Stradun from the webcam located on the logia of our clock tower.  I begin each morning with a ritual of turning on the TV and, as I sip that first rejuvenating espresso, I watch the old town come alive as I sit at my computer.  Often the lights of the Stradun are beginning to dim as the sun begins to rise over the red tile roofs, tables and chairs being set up at the many outdoor cafes, deliveries made and the cleaning crew working to maintain the cleanliness of our main promenade.  I watch as workers enter town, residents head towards the bus to their jobs, and soon it is 0800.  Within minutes I see a man wearing a bright red jacket, carrying a plastic bag slowly strolling down the middle of the Stradun – it is Ciki.  Without fail he heads towards his first morning stop, a small pub just below the Prijeko near Sponza Palace.  Again, about 0900 I glance up as I watch him walk across the Stradun to his second stop, the Fontana where he greets the local clientele with ‘Morning, Morning, Morning’ his total command of English.

Ciki at work

Ciki at work

The sign on the front door of the barber shop shows a 0900 opening hour, which means nothing as he opens when he gets there.  That may be 0900 or 1000 or later.  Locals accept this and tend to begin to wander into the shop about 1100, the best time to get a haircut or shave.  The shop has become a gathering place for many of the older men of town; they come to sit and talk stories of today and yesteryear.

A few of his birds

A few of his birds

My first visit to the barber shop was amazing; it is filled from top to bottom with several varieties of birds singing in their small colorful cages.  Every inch of the walls from ceiling to floor has photos, some of famous celebrities and many, many locals.  There are also photos of the damage done by the 1991 Homeland War and awards, plaques and some handmade displays made by local residents adorn the walls.  The shop is tribute to many relatives, friends and those who have stopped to visit with one of Dubrovnik’s most famous characters – our friend Ciki.