Can You Find Montenegro on a Map?

Budva If you are good at math, you will soon realize that we rented out our apartment for a week, but only spent a few days in Dubrovnik, Croatia. This chronicles the rest of the week.

My guess is most people cannot identify Montenegro or Black Mountain on a globe, but to be fair, it would depend on how old the globe or map happens to be. For many in my age range, there I believe there is ready recognition for the name Yugoslavia. At one time, this strange named territory encompassed a number of countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Serbia. In my mind, there is the association with the equally strange named Czechoslovakia. Both seemed like a mouthful of alphabet soup. These names may revive memories invoking visions of the Communist era, the Red Scare or even Duck and Cover. Czechoslovakia, now split up is the Czech Republic and Slovakia. If you want more information than this, buy a history book; this is about our travels.

Busing from Dubrovnik was an easy trip, but being deposited in Kotor, Montenegro when our destination was Budva, meant yet another ride. At Kotor, there was one ticket seller to supply a line of 45 people wanting tickets. Rather than fight the crowd, we thought we would wait them out by having a coffee nearby. By the fourth sip of java, we realized additional buses dumping off passengers continually fed the line.

At the Budva station, we used Viber to contact our AirBnB host Marko, who drove over to pick us up. He and the apartment were great. It was perfect for our needs. It is a ground floor apartment with a small kitchen/living room combination, an outside deck set with a table and two chairs, plus a bedroom with too much furniture, but a comfortable bed. Within two blocks were a half-dozen restaurants and a supermarket.

After a twenty-minute walk, once we knew where we were going, we reached the beach, called the Budva Riviera as it sits on the Adriatic Sea. In the mornings, there would be throngs of beach-attired people walking past with beach equipment in hand as if the Adriatic Pied Piper was playing a tune mesmerizing them into the parade.

For more than a mile along the beachfront, a promenade continues past many choices of food vendors, restaurants, and souvenir kiosks until reaching the Old Town. Though the sea is the color of the blue apatite gem, the beaches themselves are pebbles or as I like to call them, boulders in training. There is no way you would get me walking on those; my feet are excessively sensitive, unless I was wearing hiking boots.

The 2% exception

The 2% exception

Interestingly, people here do not seem to allow body image to hinder them in the least. Excluding two percent of those on the beach, the balance could easily be models for a Botero painting or sculpture. Victoria’s Secret would have to keep the secret permanently; it is certainly safe on these beaches.

After a day of wandering around the hood, walking the beach promenade, and then trying to negotiate our way around a supermarket where they flatly refused my €50 bill, we gave up on the idea of cooking our dinner and went out to eat. Portions are fit for giants and priced for paupers.

Rationalizing a need for a full day in Old Town, this was the next day’s adventure.  After Dubrovnik, our expectations included droves of people who would need gentle persuasion pushing aside to get a glimpse of anything historic. We were cheerfully incorrect with that assessment.

Part of the city walls

Part of the city walls

In comparison, OT in Budva is smaller than OT in Dubrovnik, but one needs to realize that an earthquake destroyed the majority of the Budva area on April 15, 1979. Completely restored to their original design, it is almost imperceptible what is original as opposed to renewed. The area once had four walls, with the main city gate is Porta di Terra Ferma, but the sea walls are now absent. The view is spectacular. There are no cars allowed in Old Town. They could not maneuver well on the cobblestone streets, which are even too narrow for a Smart car to traverse. This does give a freedom to pedestrians not having to concern themselves with traffic.

With the sun trying to beat us into butter, we escaped into the Archeological Museum where partial air conditioning lowered our body heat by about three degrees, just enough to revive us a bit. For a pittance entrance fee, we were delighted to find some wonderful treasures dating back to Roman times. Not feeling pressured by time, we were able to give the area a thorough going over at a relaxed pace. We were able to alternate our view between the azure sea and the mountains with five o’clock shadow of greenery.

An incredible day tour

An incredible day tour

The apartment was so relaxing; we spent almost the entirety of Saturday just lazing around reading and computing. Having an air conditioner did inspire us to stay in place. Our one adventure out was to book a tour for Sunday. Just down from the apartment was a tour agency with an incredible deal. The entire route seen on this map for a paltry €20 per person.

We were skeptical, but plunked down our €40 for both of us. Told to return at 8 am the next morning, we were led off to the dock where the boat and a few hundred others were waiting. There was not difficulty

The Blue Cave

The Blue Cave

getting seats. It was a magnificent day spanning just over eight hours. Those interested were given the opportunity to swim in the Blue Cave. We chose not to since it was only a thirty minute swim with nowhere to change afterward.

There were other stops, sites to see and time to explore. Our last stop was the town of Kotor, the place where we initially landed after coming from Dubrovnik. This time we were able to venture through the Old Town here. Smaller still, it could be covered within an hour if you stretched it out. It was lovely, but the harbor was probably the prettiest part fantasizing where all the sailboats have traveled and where they will go in the future.

Kotor dock

Kotor dock

Marko, our host, was remarkable in offering to drive us to the airport in Podgorica, an hour and a half away for €20 for both of us. If we were flying out of Tivar, a closer airport, he does it for free.

It was well worth renting the apartment out for the week. When we returned, we found the guys had done a couple of loads of sheets and towels. They respected the place to the best of our expectations.

As a reminder, I want to mention, we flew Austrian Airlines both ways to avoid the less expensive flights going through Istanbul. Both going and returning were via Vienna. The service was wonderful and the seats were extremely comfortable.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI.

We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.