Magnificent Montenegro

John Spy on 25 June 2008

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My reason for going to Montenegro was twofold; to take a relaxing break out of the office and to have a look at what promises to be a new and exciting European holiday destination.

My wife, Karen and I flew into Dubrovnik where we had hired a car. We left the airport and within 30 minutes, we were through the border and into Montenegro, heading for Kotor. To get there we had to go through Herceg Novi, the largest town in the area, before taking a 10 minute ferry ride to Lepetani. Once off the ferry it was a short drive on a very narrow road before arriving at the village of Muo, by Kotor, where our apartment was. Being almost single track in places, this was an exciting way to end our journey, passing through lots of villages with people just sitting by the water’s edge in the evening heat. We opened the doors to the apartment about 90 minutes after arriving in Dubrovnik.

I rose first in the morning and opened the French doors from the lounge out onto the terrace. I was first knocked back by the heat and then by the stunning view that greeted me, which simply took my breath away. Directly in front lay the beautiful Kotor Fjord with the old town being dwarfed by a large mountain on the other side, about half a mile away.

Kotor’s old town is like a smaller version of Dubrovnik, containing plazas, churches, narrow cobbled streets and intimate shops. Outside the main gate is the harbour where there are some beautiful yachts and motor boats tied up and an area dedicated to a daily market. Close by is a beach which is small, and quite stony with a bar to one side from where you can dive straight into the warm water. There are also some water polo courts, sun beds and parasols for rent. The locals use this beach a lot and come out in force late in the afternoon. There are many adolescents and families, which is indicative of this whole region. Family seems to be important as most things are done as a family unit.

After a couple of days acclimatising, we headed for the main tourist town of Budva. This was an easy drive of about 30 minutes and on arrival we found it very commercialised and geared up for tourism. It has beach bars, open-air nightclubs, restaurants, market stalls, playgrounds and many water sports. As it was very busy, we moved off further down the coast heading for the Sveti Stefan peninsula. When we arrived at ‘Sweaty Stefan’ as we called it (apologies to the Montenegrins), it was lovely with two quiet beaches and only a couple of bars/restaurants. This small peninsula is one of the most recognised photos in Montenegro and is located at the bottom of a windy hill. At the top of the hill there are some apartments, shops and a couple of hotels.

As this was such a nice place, we stayed here in the sun for a few hours before heading slightly further back along the coast to Przno/Sveti Stefan Beach that we had found by error, earlier in the day. At the waters edge there are two small beaches with some beach bars and restaurants and slightly further back there are a few shops and some more restaurants. This area was very pretty and quite upmarket. The water was crystal clear and as it was late afternoon, the beaches were busy. We had a lovely dinner here of pizza and chicken in a restaurant where we could almost dangle our feet in the water. When we go back to Montenegro, I think we will base ourselves here, in Przno/Sveti Stefan, as it has character, is beautiful and was more intimate and less manic than Budva.

Montenegro has lots to offer with beautiful scenery, beautiful buildings and beautiful people, with a cost of living that is slightly cheaper than the UK, although that may change. In the week we were there, we hardly heard anyone speaking English. My advice would be to visit it soon……but don’t tell anyone about it!

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