Haircuts Abroad


I’ve been wearing my hair in a ponytail every day for more than a month. That’s because I have the worst haircut I’ve ever had since my Shirley Temple look of the fourth grade.

I used to have long hair that fell below my shoulders, maybe too long for a 46-year-old. That must be what my hair stylist thought. I stopped in a hair salon shortly after we arrived here and handed the Croatian-speaking stylist a photo of the cut and color I was going for. But our communication problems went beyond a language barrier. Neither the cut or the color looked like the picture when she was finished. She just kept cutting and then announced in English: “Now we can see your eyes!”

My hair is chin-length now, shorter than it’s been in 20 years. The color the stylist put in it is already all washed out and lightened from the sun. I’m still trying to get used to it. On the bright side, it cost less than half of what it would have in the United States for a cut and color. Too bad I hate it.

“What happened to your hair?” my oldest asked when I got home. “You look like a butterfly.”


Today, it was the boys’ turn on the chopping block. I took them to the hippest place I could find, a vintage barbershop in Old Town that’s been there for more than 60 years. It’s where my husband’s pilot friends get their hair cut. This was actually the boys’ second time there. They had decent haircuts there a little more than a month ago.

It’s kind of a throwback place with antique chairs, a barber pole in the window, and photos all around of GQ-looking models. It costs only about $7 for a child’s haircut.

barber shop charlie.jpg

This time, my 10-year-old rebelled. “W” has cowlicks like crazy and desperately needed a trim. I think he would have preferred looking like a skater all summer. But he got a clean-cut look with a bit of gel swooped up on his bangs.

This is a photo of how he reacted when he saw himself in the mirror after it was finished. You can’t hear his whimpers. It really wasn’t that bad, but he didn’t like it.

after haircut.jpg

Our next stop was for a new hat from a street vendor. And then ice cream.

What’s the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut? It’s not two weeks. It’s the transformative powers of a new hat and of ice cream.

hat and ice cream.jpg

I’ve read that we are experiencing the modern revival of barber shops. They’re as cool as craft beer, cold-pressed coffee, thick-rimmed glasses and a look that says “Movember” year-round. I find it funny that this is a worldwide trend. Even the “man bun” has made it here.

“Men are rediscovering what it means to be manly, the hipster has been resurrected, and facial hair has become the fad de jour,” I read today in an Australian magazine. Thank goodness my kids are too young to fall for this foolishness.

Even they know they just needed their cowlicks tamed.

Photos in the salon touted everything from bowl cuts to “Flock of Seagulls” hair wings. I think the idea is to make getting a haircut an experience and less of a chore.

Getting a haircut overseas is definitely a cultural experience. It’s like traveling itself: a bit of an adventure, and you just have to roll with the punches no matter what happens.

Haircuts abroad don’t always work out the way you’d hoped. But new hats and ice cream cones have healing benefits the world over.


18 thoughts on “Haircuts Abroad

  1. Awesome post Tanya. Cracking up as I read this! Remembering how my parents took my sister and I to McDonald’s after piano recitals. We always got hot fudge sundaes and/or shakes. Haircuts abroad and piano recitals, it turns out, have some things in common. 😉


    1. I’ve had my share of bad piano recitals myself. I took piano for 8 years and cannot play a single song today. My parents let me quit after my last recital – after I blanked and forgot my piece and there was a big, awkward silence. I can’t remember if we had ice cream after that, but it might have helped.


  2. I am very familiar with bad recitals. My last recital (about 40 years ago) ended with a bang – my head hitting the keys as I fell asleep AGAIN on stage while playing. Turns out that having your first sleepover – without an enforced bedtime -the night before a piano recital is maybe not such a good idea 🙂 I don’t remember any ice cream though just a nice pillow.


  3. Nooo, a foreign language, a hairdresser who thinks they know best and a cut you didn’t want. It’s the stuff of nightmares! I was in a hair salon recently when the teenage client and his mom were disagreeing about the cut. The poor hairdresser was caught in the middle.


  4. You have such a good attitude! I recently got a bad haircut too. The stylist thought it would be fun to cut upside down v’s in my hair by my ears. I am not even sure the point. But way to go Mama for making yours boys feel better too 🙂


  5. Great advice about hair care abroad! I’ve only traveled for a month at a time, so I haven’t needed a stylist overseas yet, but I’ll think of this next time I travel!


  6. I’m scared to get a haircut here in the States. I can’t imagine getting one with a language barrier. I’m never happy with my results at the salon. I’m probably not going to the right places.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s