If you're going to the beach, in any imaginable country, you have to be prepared. Since Montenegro is one of the hottest places in Europe, there are certain times to avoid the seashore and any broad direct sunlight, unless you want a life destined for sun caused cancer and a cracked paint palette for your skin. After all, I've been to the beach seven times, and I have a noticeable tan after short visits. The best times to go are early in the morning from 6 am to 9 am, or later on in the day from 5 pm to 8pm. Or both, if you have enough time and energy.
Like the standards for living are different, so are the standards for shopping. What ever's trendy and high in demand is sold along the shoreline in shops, boutiques, stalls, on people's car hoods, over ledges, and even on top of boxes when a table seems to be missing. Tourism is the main factor in Montenegro's economy, and with scenery and cultural history naturally abundant everywhere, who could blame foreigners for their interest? I walked by rows of Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel, and Rinno Rossi sunglasses and wondered if counterfeit items would make their way to the stands in a year, or maybe two.
People do what they can to make a living, whether it's jewellery, painting, knitting, or carving stone. Pearls, hematite, shells, coral, wood, metal, hemp and twine, various stones, the list goes on of what is fashioned into accessories and sold for what seems cheap for us. If a pearl necklace (naturally cultivated, but oddly shaped) is 25 dollars, we'd think it was a bargain with the prices we're used to in Canada. But for someone here, it would be a large sum of their monthly earnings, enough to be thought of as a luxury.
As with any shopping trip, however, you have to be constantly on the lookout for good deals and sales. For example, I saw the same bag in two different boutiques; one was 4 euro and the other was 16! That's four times the price in one spot and just goes to show inflation. The shopkeepers on the beachside and market expect you to haggle, in moderation, of course. You can easily get a discount or alter a price with the right attitude and approach.
There is a subtle art to it, and you need to know exactly how to read a shop keeper. I'd say there are only a few simplistic types, and then the complicated mixes that vary and you're better off just paying quietly before you get bitten by something and start a bitter grudge. Whether your vendor can be swayed by the following, you'll only benefit and prosper.
' Two euro? Hmm, I saw it up at so-and-so's flat for 1.5 '
' Oh, there's a rip. Goodness. '
' Tsk, I'm 20 cents short. '
' Since I'm buying a few, is there a discount? '
' How much is this? 7 euro? '
So, dear friends, this summer I'll be furthering my psychological practices for later on in life. Now that's an essential life skill.
- Mirela is still pondering what to buy, where to buy it, and when...