Get To Know Croatia Guide Jelena Vrancic

Take a journey to Croatia with guide Jelena Vrancic. She says that the experience of enabling other people to explore, feel and learn about new countries and other cultures is exciting and irreplaceable. So you know you will be in good hands.
How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?

Well, let me start by saying a few things about myself. I am 40 years old and I come from a small town ( Sinj) in Dalmatian hinterland where I grew up and finished primary school and later on grammar school.

At  university ( 1995-2000) I studied English and sociology and I immensely enjoyed those days in Zadar. After having finished my studies I spent a year living in London as an au pair with an English family. I attended the college there and obtained Certificate of Proficiency in English by Cambridge Examinations ( grade A). In 2001 I got my first teaching job and I have been teaching since.

Besides that, for the past nine years I have been working part-time as a Guardian Angel for Abercrombie and Kent, a travel agency that has the upscale clients primarily from the USA, Canada and the UK. I have visited London a lot of times in the last five years. I am in love with the English language and travelling. I love meeting new people and learning about new cultures.

In 2015 I obtained my certificate for Split Dalmatia tour guide and this spring also for Šibenik Knin county. I have done about 25 tours so far and I absolutely love the job! I love teaching, but for some time now I have felt I needed a new challenge. I love being able to show people my town ( I have been living in Split for four years now), my country, with all the beauty it has.

What does a typical day look like for you?

When I tour here in Split I normally spend about three hours with my guests. Some, if with children, opt for two hours. There are also guests who want to see more and we do a half day tour or even a whole day tour.

It really depends. If I am contacted via my website or email I normally ask what my clients’ preferences are and then act accordingly. It is them who must feel special and I need to show them what is interesting to them not to me.

How would you describe your style as a guide?

I would say that in my tours I try not to give historical lectures. I do give them the context ( for instance, how Diocletian decided to build his palace in Split) but then I try to give them the taste of Split, tell them what we still have and use that the Roman emperor left us. Stories, anecdotes, customs, way of life – that is what people are normally interested in.

The city has such a rich history so you cannot squeeze so many facts in two or three hours, especially if the temperature is 40 Celsius degrees. As a tour guide, you need to balance.

In my tour I visit the most important historical sights. However, always looking at the faces of my guests. Are they tired? Would they like to maybe visit this museum rather than climb the Bell tower? Maybe I could tell them about Croatian basketball players who played for NBA? If they have children, I always need to customize and organize a little ice cream stop.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of this job is meeting new people from all over the world so that you have the feeling that you are travelling. I also love the fact that neither day is the same. It is always different and that makes this job exciting.

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

I think what people like about me, and what they wrote to me, is that I am very passionate and knowledgeable at the same time. I remember my client from Washington telling me that this summer and it did make me proud.

I am also somebody who wants to learn more so I am constantly exploring, buying books and visiting exhibitions.  In the future I would love to continue working with smaller groups, couples and solo travellers.

I have also combined my two jobs. Recently I have done tours with kids from my school. They absolutely loved it! For homework they had to write an essay about their day and what they learned. Further more, I organised a quiz for them at school so as to check their knowledge.


Tell us something about Croatia that only a guide would know.

In my town Split there is a narrowest road called Pusti me proć, which means “Let me pass”. It is in the Old Town and next to the Jupiter Temple. Since it is very narrow, you need to let the person coming from the other side and wait politely.  I love showing it to my clients.

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?

The only aspect of my job that I find tiring is travelling long hours on the coach. I sometimes do tours outside Split, for instance Plitvice Lakes ( which are on UNESCO heritage list). The drive is too long . From Split this is a very tiring trip both for me and for my clients. However, it is something that clients love visiting so when I see their faces I do forget about how tired I am.

And finally, in your view, what makes a good tour guide? 

In my opinion, the tour guide is somebody who would do his/her job, even if not paid. Somebody who is in love with the town/country and just has to tell everybody about something amazing that happened there. It is the person who has a need to share his/her fascination with the history/historical figure or similar. And then this fascination and energy you have is “transferred” to your guests.

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