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Published: September 19th 2009
We were quietly chuffed to leave Bosnia by something approaching a normal border crossing! However it was not without incident as we discovered we had to pay a ten euro eco-tax, and we had no euro - however after much umming and ahhhing we were allowed to pay with pounds - only after the Montenegrins had confirmed it was actually real currency we were trying to give them and then they even gave us change.
The drive from the border to Budva was eventful to say the least! We ended up cruising along quite happily through the lovely countryside until soon our road narrowed to a single lane... a bit odd but off we went. The single lane turned to a dirt road.. hmmm... and then a rocky trail... ummm... before long we were driving through the hills on a tiny sharp rocky path ... We admitted defeat and back tracked (via the mother of all 3 point turns) quite some way and then tried again. Eventually we found the right road and continued through the mountains.
Reaching the coast from inner Montenegro is simply amazing, suddenly the mountains stop and there is the ocean and the vast Bay of
Kotor stretching out in front of us (I think it looked like something from the start of “The Love Boat” personally....). The incredible thing is that you are literally still waaaaaay up in the mountains - it took us a good 30mins on a very sketchy barrier-less road to reach the actual water. We arrived in the town of Risan and wound our way along the beautiful coast road, completely re-invigorated after a long 6hr drive through the mountains.
The road offered stunning views across the bay and out to sea, all the way along to Budva. We had no trouble finding the guesthouse and stashed the car, eager to stretch our legs. We wandered down to the beach front and were completely flabbergasted at the sheer number of people crammed onto the actual sand of the beach - not somewhere we were particularly keen to hang out.
We wandered along the beach promenade instead, just taking in the carnival atmosphere before heading to the Old City for a bit of peace. We had a lovely evening wandering the old city streets, the whole old city is on a tiny piece of land jutting from the coast -
which means it’s quite small and compact and easy to navigate. We went to a highly recommended steak house for dinner and feasted on massive portions of delicious eye-filet steak 😊 The best we’d had since leaving NZ!
The following day we drove up the coast a short way to the picturesque town of Sveti Stefan. The town rests on a tiny round island connected to the shore by a single lane foot bridge. In the 15th century it was a tidal island which was home to a fisherman's village. In the 1950s the last remaining villagers were evicted and the island turned into a luxury resort until it fell into decline during the break up of the former Yogoslav federation. Today, while the town is currently uninhabited, pending restoration; it really is something quite special to see. The quaint old houses sit perched on the island, with vines creeping up over them. Sheepy liked it a lot. We went down to the beach opposite Sveti Stefan and were pleased to see there were beaches that seem a bit more ‘normal’ just a spattering of people, but still with the crystal water and golden sands of Budva and the
other big-name beaches. They were much more tempting places to hang out!
We also visited the coastal city of Kotor and its perfectly preserved fortress city. Kotor old city is on the water’s edge, surrounded by epic stone walls; they range up through the imposing cliff face and finish in a massive fort way above the city itself. We wandered the city and basked in the morning heat, the great thing about these ancient stone cities is how cool it is out of the direct sunlight - it makes for a lovely mix of heat and relaxation. All too soon it was time to head out of Kotor and head back to Croatia for our flight home, we were in no rush so we had a leisurely drive - we even stopped at a self service car-wash and furiously blasted all the mountain dust off our little Astra - which was actually pretty fun 😊
Our time in Montenegro finished with another beautiful scenic drive along the coast road to the Croatian border crossing.
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