As we headed out of our hotel, the receptionist asked where we were headed off to. We happily replied that we were headed out for a high afternoon tea.
This total look of surprise marked her face as she asked with concern, “Why are you sick?”
“No,” we murmured. “Part of what we love to do when we travel is do an afternoon tea in each place we visit,” we explained to her.
Smiling awkwardly at us, she said, “No one in Dubrovnik drinks tea unless they are sick.”
We all laughed, shaking off the moment as we proceeded on our way to our chosen high tea destination, the Hilton. As we were walking, Philipp and I looked at each other, and it dawned on us that might be why it had been such a struggle to find a place to go.
As we arrived at the Hilton, a beautifully elegant hotel located right outside of the old town, we were greeted with an empty lobby. With corona-virus still playing with the strings of fate was not all too unusual. But we were still getting used to the new norm of the hospitality industry; though things have begun to open, they are still incredibly quiet.
A waiter approached us, asking how he could help us. We mentioned that we were here for the afternoon tea. His reaction was short and curt as he instructed us to pick a seat we would like. Taking our seat, he asked if we wanted one or two trays. Philipp and I both looked at each other a bit confused; this is not a question in all our years and all our high tea experiences that we have been asked.
We turned the waiter, “What is the difference?”
After his short and un-enthused explanation, we ordered one tray. There was no menu provided to us, nothing to base our decisions off. We sat there a bit offset by this occurrence, as this was a first for us in all our high tea experiences.
So far, our high tea experience was not up to par as our waiter was not friendly or welcoming to us. We tried to take into account that with COVID, everyone is wearing masks hiding their facial reactions and altering the conversational experience.
We even tried to stir up a conversation with him by mentioning our blog and how we write about our experiences. I asked him his name, which was Patrik, as he turned to walk away. After taking a few steps, he paused, turned back, and asked what type of tea we would like. Since there was no menu available, I asked what types they had. “We have them all,” he said.
Thinking that “them all” would include rose tea, that is what I asked for since it was one that I loved on our trip to South East Asia and would have loved to try another version. He looked at us baffled as he said, “No, not that one.” Finally, after an awkward pause, he raddled off a list of teas: black, green, orange, and a few others.
Feeling the need to choose quickly, Phillip selected the green tea, and I selected the orange tea. The tray arrived shortly after; it was the smallest tower of treats we have ever seen, at least compared to others we have enjoyed. But it looked ok, overall.
The waiter lingered a bit at our table, asked about our blog. As I spoke about it, his tone changed a bit, and he seemed to be a become friendlier, more welcoming. We were a bit surprised by how off-put he had been as most of the people we have met and had the pleasure of conversing within in Dubrovnik had so far been super friendly. We had expected the same super friendly vibe when we walked into our high tea, especially since we were in a 5-star hotel.
After chatting a bit about the blog, the waiter seemed to warm up to us. He explained the bite-sized treats in detail, which made us feel a bit better, more relaxed. As he walked away, we realized there were two sets of silverware but only one plate. We decided to shrug it off and not make a stink about it and set out to enjoy the bites.
The scones, which are usually our favorite, were a bit tiny, and instead of butter, they gave us a whipped cream, which was a bit disappointing. The rest of the bites were ok; nothing was spectacular or noteworthy; even the tea was simple.
As we sat there enjoying our bites and tea, the waiter had not come back by, actually, no one had really come by to check on us, which was fine as we liked to enjoy a magical moment alone enjoying our tea. But it did force Philipp to get up and go grab the bill from the waiter. Though the experience was a bit drab between the unenthused service, the lack of a menu, the basic treats, and the simple tea, we were delighted to see that it was at least a reasonable price of 12 dollars. At least the price fit the poor experience.
So, for any of those who plan to make their way to Dubrovnik once life resumes a more normal pace, I would highly suggest skipping the high tea experience unless you are looking for a chance to compare differences in each culture’s high tea experiences, like us.