Published: June 8th 2012
May 16th 2012
K- It only takes about 4 hours to go all the way up the Montenegro coast from Albania to Croatia so we decided to base ourselves in Budvar, a beach town about half way up the country and do some day trips. My definition of luxury after a year of traveling is spending more than one night in a hotel (closely followed by a backpack of clean laundry) so the fact that we could spend 3 nights in one place immediately endeared Montenegro to me.
We didn’t know much about Montenegro before we got there but found it have a lovely coastline and some small, walled cities which are common in this area. The photos pretty much speak for themselves. We did not explore the interior because we had just made it back from the Albanian Alps right next door and the weather was a little mixed. In fact the days stayed sunny (or at least not raining) for most of our visit. The nights were slightly stormier with one of the worst thunderstorms I have ever heard – I thought a bomb had gone off with the first rattle of thunder.
Budvar itself has been /
is being overdeveloped in quite an unattractive manner and in the Summer it apparently gets packed and has quite a party scene. However, in off-season it retains a degree of charm, particularly next to the small harbor and also in the rebuilt old town.This area was destroyed by an earthquake in the late 1970s but has been sympathetically restored and is a pleasant place for a stroll. There is also a small castle and some beaches which we didn’t explore because the weather wasn’t really sunny enough – they looked good from above but again I imagine they are packed in July / August (which to be fair is the same for most of the Mediterranean).
Our first day trip was a visit to Kovar, another walled city up the coast, which is very lovely – lots of marble buildings and churches and quaint squares and alleyways packed with restaurants. It is fairly touristy (well, I thought so until we saw Dubrovnik!) but is still charming and worth a visit. Try and time a trip when the cruise ships aren’t in town though – easier said than done of course but worth trying to achieve
on most of the Adriatic and Dalmatian coast. Our top tip is to get there early (before 9am), sightsee as early as possible or after 4pm and eat at odd hours Not fool proof but it helps.
Kovar is surrounded by stunning limestone cliffs and has a pretty harbor and inland sea. On our arrival we ogled the biggest yacht I have ever seen for an appropriately envious period of time. I am not a sailor and unlike Mark who has been afflicted by boat envy at a few of our stops I have no desire to own or even rent a yacht. However the Saint Nicolas was huge – more like a mini-cruise ship and I felt this was the sort of yachting I could get into. I Googled it later and found that at 70 meters it is the 75th biggest yacht in the World and is “believed to be owned” by a Russian billionaire. A little while to go before I am traveling on something like that then – but perhaps an aspirational target?
Boat spotting over we headed to the small local market where we found lots of locals selling the Montenegro
specialty of Prosciutto style dried ham (albeit saltier and smokier). Cured ham is to me what chocolate is to many more normal women so after a bit of tasting we bought some home cured meats plus cheese, figs and olives for a spontaneous picnic lunch. However as we then succumbed to the lure of a grilled sardines and fresh fish at one of the Old Town’s cute restaurants we were forced instead to have a picnic dinner on our balcony. Shame!
Our next trip was to the town of Cetinje, about 45 minutes up in to the hills. The views from the bus were great but the town itself wasn’t anything amazing, although there were several pavement cafes where it would be nice to hand out if the weather had been warmer. Not a bad trip at all but a little bland. However, if you don’t try you don’t get the great experiences such as our Albanian ferry ride so we won’t be put off experimenting.
The next day we took the bus to Dubrovnik in Croatia, which is the subject of another blog. Scroll down for more photos
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