Dutchman Arrives in Dubrovnik in Search of Father from 1967 Romance

By 2 October 2022
Dutchman Arrives in Dubrovnik in Search of Father from 1967 Romance
Photo by Grgo Jelavic Pixsell

October 2, 2022 - A Dutchman has arrived in Dubrovnik in search of his father, a waiter back in 1967, the result of a holiday romance.  

Every day is an education in this beautiful county, and life is never dull with the TCN inbox. 

A week ago, I received an email from Holland from a man who was planning to come to Dubrovnik to look for his father, whose holiday romance with his Dutch mother over 50 years ago bought him into the world. I published Looking for My Dad, a 1967 Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik Waiter and was then offline for most of the day. 

When I got back to work, I found my inbox was flooded with emails, possible leads, demands for money, and the story all over the Croatian media. TV channels wanting to interview the son. There were offers of help from private detectives, retired policemen, and many others, including several demanding money for information. 

I was sent links and photos, and there were four possibles in four different countries - Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and ironically - the Netherlands. Stefan, the son, was encouraged but did not have any special insights from the photos. As another lead came in from a fifth county - Bosnia and Hercegovina - I realised that there was no way I could follow all this up with my limited time and resources, so I messaged a friend with whom i had worked last year identifying the mystery woman on Krk with no memory

And so I hand the story over the fabulous Laura Siprak of 24Sata, who has been in contact with Stefan and doing quite a lot of research into all the leads. Here is the first of Laura's stories on the search, which appeared last night in 24Sata

It was 1967, Nettie was 26 years old then. She came from the Netherlands to Dubrovnik on vacation with a friend and stayed at the Komodor Hotel. There she met the fatal waiter Gojko Smiljanić, whom she met a year earlier at the Bellevue Hotel, where he worked. Then she rejected him, but the second summer she agreed to go with him. They started a short romance and from it Stefan Brouwers, now 55 years old, was born. His mother is now 81 years old.

- She realized she was pregnant with me when she returned to the Netherlands. Then she worked as a gymnast in the town of Breda. She wrote to Hotel Bellevue and Komodor to tell Gojko that she was pregnant and to contact her by letter, but she never received an answer. She didn't get married and I'm her only son - recounts Stefan, who first contacted the Total Croatia News portal.

Until recently, he worked as a Dutch teacher and school counselor, but now he has slowed down and works in a bookstore.

He and his wife arrived in Dubrovnik so that he could try to find his father.

- My husband doesn't really look like his family. He has their ears, but not the rest: he has a smaller build, is thinner and tougher, has darker hair and skin, is hairier than them on his arms and legs, has bushy eyebrows and a beard, has been wearing glasses for a long time, and they don't. The colour of the eyes is also different, his are brown, while in the family they are blue. He also has high cheekbones, which no one else in the family has. I believe he picked it up from his father - his wife explains.

Stefan has one son, and he would like his son to meet his grandfather and be in his life, even if he was not already in Stefan's.

- My mother told me about my father for the first time when I was about to become a father. Then she also gave me this blurry picture. She doesn't really want to talk about it, as if she's ashamed. You know, strict Catholic upbringing - he explains.


Her family helped her raise Stefan and they are very close, but he would like to know who his father is.

- I also talked to her friends who were with her, but they couldn't help me, they didn't talk about it. Mother didn't want to, I don't think she was ready. Periodically, I extract from her what she remembers, after all, she is now advancing in years. I told her I was going to Dubrovnik, so she opened up a little - she says.

He himself sent enquiries to the hotels, but never received an answer.

- Of course, his name is important. This is where the confusion arises. He never wrote his name, so I only know of: Gojko Smilonić from my mother. I couldn't find anyone with that name, the best existing names that look like that are Smiljanić or Smilović. If he is still alive, he would have to be eighty years old. I have his 'foggy' photo - he said.

His father is a man in a white jacket and white shirt with a bow tie standing on the left. His head is slightly bent, so it is harder to make out his face. He communicated with Nettie in German because he did not speak English.


But there are more photos of the mother from that summer vacation. She is fourth from the left, and she is accompanied by Lucija, who was a cleaner at the hotel, her husband and two other women. They were photographed in August 1967.

We asked people who worked in hotels at that time and are still alive, and even though they don't remember him, all three of them pointed out an important thing: without tourism and hotel management education, Gojko could not have been a waiter, so the assumption was that he was educated for that, either in Makarska, Ploče, Montenegro or somewhere else on the Adriatic.

- My mother told me that Gojko wanted to train as a chef when he was working as a waiter. She fell in love with him, she says he was wonderful to her - says Stefan.


Gojko should be in his 80s today, and Stefan obviously inherited a lot from him. Since he first contacted Total Croatia News, several people have contacted him with possible clues. What we have managed to find out so far is that his father is not Gojko Smiljanić from Majske Poljane, nor the owner of the same name from 'Eldorado steak house' from the Netherlands. Stefan will be in Dubrovnik for the next two weeks. He is asking anyone who might know his father, the cleaner Lucija, her husband or have any other useful clue to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the title "Dubrovnik waiter" or the 24sata newsroom. Call us at 01/ 24 24 242 or send your materials via MMS to 099/224-2424. We use the same number for Viber and WhatsApp messages. In addition, you can contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., via, via Twitter at @24sata_HR or via the application on the page