|A peek at the water|
Although Montenegro has European Union aspirations, at the moment the closest they have come to membership is to have adopted the Euro as their official form of currency. Historically this has caused the cost of everything in the country to skyrocket. Not so in Montenegro (yet anyway). This, combined with May being considered off season (in fact, Montenegro's high tourist season spans a few short weeks in late July and early August), we found the country to be incredibly inexpensive, mostly void of tourists, and yet completely welcoming to those of us who were there. Each seaside village we visited was orderly and immaculate, melded history with modern amenities, and surprisingly enough, had a large number of English speaking people working in the shops, hotels, and restaurants.
|Above the Bay of Kotor|
I've mentioned before that we really aren't beach people. Blazing sun, hoards of people, and expanses of sand covered with oil slicked bodies really isn't our scene. Just the thought of spending four days "at the sea" made me a bit nervous but I reminded myself that we were still in the off season. And there is a lot more to do along the coast than just sit and bake in the sun. Besides, the cool and rainy weather that was predicted reassured me that perhaps it wouldn't be too bad. And it wasn't. The weather forecast did keep people away and when the clouds gave way to sun --or at least no rain-- for most of the weekend we had much of the area to ourselves. It was wonderful and made me wonder why we had waited so long to visit this neighboring country that is only a short car ride away.
|The magical enclave of Sveti Stefan|
Here we ate a traditional lunch overlooking the island at the one restaurant that was already open for the season and engaged in a lively conversation about Montenegro, America, and Albania with our English speaking waiter.
In the picturesque village of Kotor we climbed up 1350 steps to explore the St. John Fortress and take in the sweeping views of the Bay of Kotor below us. We also had to take those 1350 steps back down. Geologists would disagree (and they would be right) but the Bay of Kotor is often referred to as a fjord. It isn't but the narrow bay surrounded by sheer cliffs is similar to the fjords we visited in Norway. Driving along the narrow inlets of the bay we took in the sights of the blue water, red tiled rooftops, and the numerous stone churches and marveled at the fact we were so close to Albania yet a world away. With our "home base" being a hotel just outside of the old walled city in Budva, we spent hours exploring the narrow marble alleys of this Stari Grad. When the occasional shower did strike we retreated to our hotel where we were able to sit on our balcony, sip wine and listen to the crashing surf. And of course no vacation would be a vacation if we didn't eat and drink the local specialties. Much to my surprise Montenegro has a small but growing wine industry that produces some very drinkable reds. Our favorite wine discovery was the perfect accompaniment to the grilled meats and vegetables that while not fancy, were fresh and delicious each time we ordered them.
|Stari Grad - Budva|