Having said a sad farewell to the gorgeous Dubrovnik, when we first got off the bus at Kotor, we thought we’d fallen asleep, missed our stop and somehow ended up in Beirut. Hollow, neglected, abandoned buildings line the otherwise picturesque bay. Rob was like – “Where have you taken us?”
As we walked slowly and cautiously away from where Homeland-meets-Elephant & Castle-on-sea, we stumbled across the city gates and meandered our way into Kotor Old Town. Here, I breathed a sigh of relief. The cosy, cute, cobble-stoned city within walls, hugged by moody mountains, has a charm of its own… despite being a bit like life post-apocalypse (well, it is off-season).
To mark our arrival, Rob suggests we / makes us climb a mountain. Now, I have a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to climbing mountains – or any physical activity, come to that – and yet, as we ascend the 1,300+ steps (omg), I can’t help smiling at the view (& cursing Rob under my breath), and I felt ever so proud when we finally reached St John’s Fortress.
I only told Rob I hated him once and we didn’t break up. Bonus. This is the tired face of victory;
The way back to earth, however, was a different story. I spent most of the way down doing an impression of a demented duck, yelling “oh for – !” each time my knees buckled. I’m as graceful as those dancing elephants in Fantasia.
Advice: If you’re going to brave the hike, don’t wear Toms. Funnily enough, I didn’t think to pack any mountaineering gear for our relaxing bank holiday trip. 🙄
Day two sees us in a fairly unsexy hire car. From Kotor, we bomb it (forgive the pun) to Budva.
Aside from the spot of beach we found to take a pic, the so-called “mini Dubrovnik” is pretty similar to the two other cities within walls we’ve visited. Cutesy, quirky maze-like allies lead you into the direction of the city’s choosing. Don’t try and use your phone for a map; these old towns are GPS black holes.
After sadly realising we couldn’t find a bar that served Budva in Budva, we jet off towards Sveti Stefan to check out the place that all sorts of celebs, including the queen, spend their glorious sunny summer holidays.
Only for us, there was a hurricane and we nearly died at the nearby Olive restaurant (some of the roof fell down on us). But what’s a potential brain haemorrhage when there’s a free beer in the mix (that was our prize for surviving / bribe from management to stop us suing)?
From here, we chase the stormy skies to the Niagara Falls, just north or south and somewhere east or west of Podgorica (basically we found it by sheer chance):
Advice: download a map (most phone networks don’t include Montenegro in their travel data pass packages), type in Niagara Restaurant (a vast empty restaurant with a carpark leading directly to the falls) and keep your fingers crossed.
The drive to and from Kotor is scenic, regardless of the route (we did both).
Some other observations:
* people aren’t as friendly here as in neighbouring Croatia but what they lack in smiles they make up for in… erm
* think of a menu as a guide as opposed to what bars and restaurants actually serve
* check your change
* “thank you” is like koala (the bear) but with a “hhuh” instead of a “k”
* if you choose a “Montenegro special” on a menu, just be warned, it might be cat. There are so many cats here. There’s even a cat museum. And some of the meat looks suspect. Pay your money, take your chance.
* best restaurant = Konoba Santa Scala
* worst restaurant = Regina del Gusto
* most lively pub = the square pub
* if you’re not a fan of passive smoking, don’t come to Montenegro
* on Easter Sunday, the church starts ringing the bell at dawn. Every hour, on the hour – DING DING DING!! Forget any plans to relax. You have to get up and pray the bells will at some point stop.