A few days in Montenegro

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November 11th 2016
Published: June 6th 2017
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We packed our bags and left the apartment nice and early. We caught the public bus straight away and in no time at all got to the bus station. Kind of regretted we left so early as it was pretty cold that morning, temperature dropped a good few degrees – it was only 10C! Thankfully they had waiting room so we could hide away from the cold. My jaw dropped slightly when we were told the price of the tickets to Kotor – 20Eur per person for a 2 hour drive, quite pricey to me! Ah well, there wasn't much we could do about that...

Once the bus arrived, we put our luggage in the compartment. We were supposed to pay 15kuna, but ended up paying 20 as the guy didn't have change – at least we weren’t the only ones who got ripped off on this sneaky trick of his, as all the locals paid the same price... and with quite an empty bus we set off to Kotor. The bus driver started checking the tickets as soon as we drove off and was shocked to see we had only two tickets, even though there were three of us! He said we had a big problem... well we did ask at the counter in Dubrovnik if we needed the ticket for Millie but were basically laughed off and now apparently we were having a big problem? The big problem turned out to be writing and selling us the ticket - well if only there were big problems like that everywhere... As we were leaving Dubrovnik sun started coming out again and we were able to see very clearly how close the road to the big drops was once again! Beautiful scenic roads but with so many crazy drivers on the roads everywhere, pretty scary!

As we were getting closer to Montenegro the weather started changing though... not great... I guess we had to get some bad weather somewhere eventually, after all it was the middle of the autumn already... Once we got to the border we were surprised to see how thorough the inspection was - cars coming into Croatia with boots open? Hello EU I guess... Also everyone was out of their cars and buses... And so we were told to get off shortly after as well, only the bus driver came over to me and said 'Baby, you no!', ok then... Grant jumped off and we stayed in the warm bus, seeing dad out didn't make Millie too happy unfortunately... Thankfully it was a very brief stop and soon after everyone was back onboard, including daddy and we were ready to drive into Montenegro. It turned out to be easier than leaving Croatia as the bus driver simply collected all the passports and soon after was back with them - and we even got a stamp each!

I wasn't really sure what to make of Montenegro as we started making our way into it... It kind of looked very run down... dark buildings... many just left for ruins... Not too exciting about the architecture either... Maybe it was the weather that was just making everything look way more gloomy than it really was... But as we got to the Bay of Kotor and started driving along it, I quickly changed my mind about this country – rain or no rain, this was one beautiful place! This beautiful bay in the middle of the mountains - you can't really ask for a more perfect scenery, combining water and mountains in one!

We got to Kotor as it started drizzling again, so quickly made our way to the Old Town to search for our apartment. What was supposed to be an easy find turned out to be a bit of a drama though... There were no signs on the buildings which of them actually did have the apartments for rent (like they did in Croatia)... There were no street names, just random numbers here and there and my google map was showing the location of our apartment in some very bizarre spot... After walking around for a while and with no luck asking people about the apartment, we decided it was time to change our strategy – we needed to find either wifi or someone with a working phone. Grant found a guy that offered to call the number, sweet! As we were waiting for the lady to come and pick us up, the guy started talking some jokes about Montenegrins (being Montenegrin himself of course!), particularly about how lazy they were! Then said something about Montenegrins being well known for being lazy just like Polacks being stupid! Whaaaaat?!!!! Grrrrrr.... Yes, I have heard gazzilion jokes about Polish people and yet was never called stupid straight in my face! Haha! The guy had no clue he was actually talking to a Polack... in the end he added that in this region the Bosnians were the Polacks... Yay! So it wasn’t only the Polacks they are laughing about here... Obviously he forgot to mention that Montenegrins were also veeeeery funny people...

Once we got to the apartment, we basically stayed in it for the rest of the day... It was bucketing down, I was cold, not a great day for walking around... Grant got us some food and drinks and we were set for the evening, hoping the next day we would be able to see Kotor in a different light...

Unfortunately this time the clouds decided to stick around for a little bit longer... We were trying to figure out what to do in that miserable weather and in the end thought that it was time we treated ourselves to some nice breakfast. We checked a few places but were surprised to see they were only offering drinks, no breakfast menu at all... Finally... were that eggs on the menu? Yep, that would do then. Once again I got disappointed about my tiny large coffee. I should probably just stop ordering these coffees as three sips weren’t simply enough... Once ham and eggs arrived my jaw slightly dropped at the portion size... 3 eggs, lots of ham, some gigantic sliced tomato and a big chunk of feta cheese... oh yes! And a basket of fresh pita bread! Not too bad at all... Millie was as usual getting some attention, blowing kisses and waving to the waiters. It looked like it really made their day actually! How could it not anyway? 😊

As we left the restaurant, it wasn't raining anymore and since St Tryphon's Cathedral-Basilica was just next door, we decided to check it out first. It's actually one of the first large Romanic churches in the east Adriatic area. It was built between 1124 and 1166 on the foundations of St Tryphon's Martyrium from 809. I was quite surprised when I saw the interior, gigantic marble columns and yet it looked pretty modest still... Also there were some fragments of old Gothic frescos here and there (from 1331)... Amazing how they can find all these old paintings and drawings under layers and layers of paint over them! There was a museum upstairs where you could find a fantastic collection of old artefacts and paintings, some pretty old - for example a glass bowl from the 13th century with artefacts inside it from the 9th century. There were some interesting silver pieces as well – torsos, legs or arms containing fragments of actual human bones inside them! What was missing were the descriptions on the exhibits in the museum though, only numbers were displayed... We did have a chance to look up some of the items we were interested in when we were leaving the church as the ticket guy simply let us have a look at some of the guidebooks he had for sale. Surprisingly he didn't even try selling them to us? Good salesman. 😉

As we were leaving the church some older lady wanted to come inside but when she found out it was 2.50eur to come in, she changed her mind. Grant said to her it was worth having a look, but she was set in her mind already. Once she walked off Grant said to the guy selling tickets that probably she paid 1000eur for the cruise but now 2.50 seemed too much? The guy looked around and said: 'Russian tourists... never no pay!' Funny! I wondered whether he had some Polish jokes up his sleeve as well...

Since it suddenly became nice and sunny we decided to take our chances and go up to St John's fortress. We saw a map on the wall next to the entrance showing the different paths you could take – not too motivating to be honest... blue trail – relatively safe, yellow one – quite risky and red one high risk zone... shall we go then? Just one more look at the board before setting off... 'Watch out for the reptiles'? What? Snakes? I wasn’t expecting that... Just hoped it was too cold for them at this time of the year...

So up we went! Steps, steps and more steps... It actually wasn't too bad at all though. Maybe I was in better shape than I thought I was? Or maybe it went pretty smooth because I was stopping quite often to have a look at the beautiful panorama of the Kotor Bay and snapping pictures every few steps? Absolutely stunning place!

In no time at all we got to the little church that was clearly visible from the Old Town - Our Lady of Health Shrine, built in the 15th century. Some more steps and soon after we were facing the red trail – high risk zone... Seeing that everyone was going up and down from this place, giving absolutely no notice to this warning, we decided to head to the top of the fortress as well. As we got to the top I knew what they meant about the high risk – to be honest the fortress looked like it should've been shut off... I for one felt really unsafe walking through the ruins... Tiny little shake of the ground and everything would've collapsed in no time at all... It still was a very cool place to go to. I wondered how on earth they managed to build it over there – a good size of a fortress on a steep rocky hill... As we were admiring the views of the Kotor Bay from the fortress I couldn't help but notice some big clouds coming our direction once again... It was time to get back as we definitely didn't want to get caught up on these steps in rain... Walking down we had to stop to feed Millie. She basically gives 5-minutes warnings when she’s hungry... After that it’s just beyond our control... Thankfully we came prepared, after few snacks and with a full belly she was much happier and we could continue on...

We went back through the other entrance and were surprised to see there was no one there charging for the tickets... ah well... You win some, you lose some... We decided to head back to the apartment after that so that Millie could have a proper nap. Since it started raining again, we got so cosy inside that it was difficult to drag our butts out of the apartment again that day, but in the end we did – just to have something to eat though. We definitely made the best of the weather that day and were really happy we made it to the fortress in between the rain.

The night turned out to be pretty miserable as well. To think that it all started so well when Millie fell asleep just a bit after 8pm... She didn’t sleep for too long unfortunately as two hours later woke up again, screaming! Not sure if babies have nightmares at this age yet or what else could have caused her to wake up like that, it did made her very upset though and for the next few hours she simply refused to go back to sleep. Sometime around 2am we were finally able to catch some z’s. When we woke up around 7am and saw rain outside again, we weren’t exactly too happy... It was bucketing down! it stopped late in the morning and we quickly decided to do a day trip to Budva, but changed our minds on the way to the bus station already as it started drizzling again... We made it back to the apartment just before it started pouring again... It looked like it was going to be more or less ‘stay inside’ kind of day... For Millie and me at least as Grant went out to have his hair cut and searching for some food for Millie as well – it was the first time we actually had a big of a problem finding baby food... Thankfully he did find some jars... Pheeew...

We made an attempt of going out in the afternoon as it stopped raining again... I couldn’t believe how much water there was outside... The main gate to the Old Town was pretty much flooded! Gigantic puddle, ankle deep! It looked like the city was prepared for it as they set up a provisory ramp for the people to walk on... we walked through the other entrance instead though, much less people and surprisingly less water also... Grant said that he saw before a boat being pulled out of the water which sunk due to the rain... Actually a few of the boats looked like they wouldn’t survive another rain either... Despite seeing the streets covered in water and the forecast we still hoped to do something that day though. We made it to the bus station thinking of going to Perast. There was a bit of a wait for the next bus so we decided to catch a local bus from the Old Town instead... It was worth it coming to the station if only to get some info about getting to Mostar from Kotor though – basically two options: bus or private transfer. Bus was pretty expensive and on top of that it would take us between 7 to 9 hours to get to Mostar that way... Private car would cost us a bit more but it would take only 3 to get to our destination... We had time to think about it until the following day. As we walked back to the Old Town it started drizzling again and it looked like it was just the beginning... When it started raining harder and harder, we quickly changed the direction back to the apartment again. This time no luck escaping the rain though... two minutes and it was pouring down and the next moment even hailing! We had to cover a very short distance back home and yet I was totally soaked, up to my knees! I think it was about time it stopped raining...

After half an hour in the apartment it stopped raining... Think the weather was playing with our minds a bit... We were ready to set off again though, third time lucky hopefully? We gave up on big plans though, simple meal out somewhere would do... preferably close by... We also needed to find a spot where there would be no smokers inside... Pub Square did the job, as even though there were a couple of people smoking inside, they were far away from us. Some seafood for dinner, couple of beers and a BIG coffee (at last!) – not too bad at all. And then a quick evacuation as the smokers started swarming the place... Good timing!

We woke up to a beautiful blue sky at last, so decided to make the best of it and head for a day trip somewhere. We chose direction Budva. Made it to the bus station just on time as once we boarded the bus, it departed straight away. It wasn't exactly the most exciting trip, we went a bit inland to get there and apart from one snowy peak rising somewhere above Kotor, there wasn't much to see on the way until we reached Budva that is as we were driving along the coast once again. We headed straight to the Old Town and were surprised to see so many new bigger hotels popping up all around... Don't think they heard of health and safety here though as none of the construction sites was really secured... When we got to the Old Town the first thing we noticed was a really dirty beach... I guess they didn't have a chance to clean away all the debris and trash spat out by the sea... The Old Town surrounded by a wall was quite nice and yet I felt slightly disappointed, as after Kotor it seemed a bit underwhelming... We walked up to the citadel, checked the views, strolled around the narrow stone streets, walked up on the city walls (no comparison to Dubrovnik!), stopped for a coffee at some little cafe and that's where it all started looking a bit more bright... A nice big cup of coffee again, we should’ve started from here I guess! 😉

Since it was our last day in Montenegro, we thought we should probably check Perast as well. We walked back to the station along the promenade, Millie walking all the way! A proper first big walk! I was really positively surprised how well she was doing and how confident she was! From a little baby into a toddler in no time at all!

We probably should’ve checked the bus schedule when we arrived as had to wait half an hour... Not too bad if you have no other plans, but when you want to visit another place before it gets dark, every minute counts! When I was getting the tickets I had a bit of a clash with the ticket guy... I think I repeated three times the name of the place we were going to and yet he was looking at me as if I was from the Moon... Only when I mentioned Kotor, he mumbled something under his nose and gave me the tickets. Still I didn't get it why the guy was so grumpy with me...Once we were getting on the bus, to make sure we would be dropped off at the right place I said the same name I mentioned three times before – Pestar... The bus driver looked at me slightly amused and said 'Perast ok'. Aaaaa... Now it all made sense... 😉

As we were driving to Perast I started stressing out about the fact that we still didn’t have any transport booked for the next day to Mostar and the idea of 7 to 9 hours in the bus certainly wasn’t too appealing... We decided to keep it short in Perast and go back to Kotor to book the transport. And a really short visit in Perast that was... Since the bus journey took longer than expected and it was already after 3pm, it was way too late to try to organise a boat to the church on the water – especially seeing how empty the place was, so we ended up just walking through the town. Walking and enjoying its very serene atmosphere and beautiful setting. Too bad we didn’t come here earlier but at least I could blame it on the weather! 😉

Getting back to Kotor turned out to be a bit tricky as we didn’t really know what time the bus was or where exactly it was leaving from. The bus driver that brought us here pointed to some spot just before he dropped us off, but it was right on the bend and next to the construction site... yeah... no way we were going to try to catch a bus from there... Instead we walked to the end of Perast and started waving our hands at oncoming buses/vans from there... 15 minutes nothing... 20... 25... and then some car just pulled up in front of us... the guy asked if we needed a taxi... well... it looked like we did as I really started losing hope about catching anything else from there at all... Time was ticking and it was a real priority to book the transport to Mostar for the next day... It looked like Grant might have been reading my thoughts as he started asking our ‘taxi’ driver if he was doing any trips outside of Kotor as well... he hardly spoke any English but definitely understood that we wanted to go to Mostar and the next moment was calling his friend to take us there the next morning... I was watching it all slightly terrified as he was suddenly paying more attention to his phone than the road... The guy on the phone actually spoke some pretty good English and within the next few minutes we managed to get ourselves a driver for the next day... To be honest I was veeeery sceptical about it – it just seemed very random, if not dodgy... Ah well, we would just have to see in the morning and decide then whether to go ahead with it or not. Goran, our driver even sent us an email confirmation, so far so good I guess...

Now only to fill our stomachs with some food and we were ready to say goodbye to Kotor. We most certainly could’ve stayed here a bit longer and explored a bit more but since we already made a rough schedule of places we wanted to visit next, it was best we moved on. Next stop: Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina!

Additional photos below
Photos: 50, Displayed: 36


8th June 2017

Stunning photos
All of your photos in this blog are beautiful. I suspect you've embraced this country and it is showing in the photography. Sometimes those clouds won't go away but that didn't stop you.
12th June 2017

Stunning photos
Thanks Dave and Merry Jo :) We definitely made good use of every moment without rain. It's a really beautiful place!
11th June 2017
Little trails off the main path to the fortress...

You saw the fortress. We didn't
It is interesting that different people can see so different things in the same place. You saw this fortress, which we totally missed whereas we walked around in the old town and took photos of all the different balconies there. We were fascinated by them. /Ake
12th June 2017
Little trails off the main path to the fortress...

You saw the fortress. We didn't
No two experiences will ever be the same, that's for sure! The walk up to the fortress was definitely worth the effort if only to see the views of the beautiful bay. Wish I paid more attention to those balconies!

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