Montenegro is one trip, which I find quite difficult to write about. Travel blogs are supposed to be positive, to show you how fascinating traveling is and make you either – jealous that you are not able to do that or, inspired to finally take that leap of faith and start traveling.
Indeed, traveling is an amazing lifetime experience, until… Shit happens! Traveling is also fun when the shit that happened has a happy ending. After this, it becomes a learning point, a good story, an experience, and a memory you will have for the rest of your life.
I will definitely, remember Montenegro, but not for the amazing nature, not for the old towns, not even for the foam party. I will remember it for the STORY, that I will tell to my bored friends to hear it over and over again and one day to my grandchildren.
“Remember when we were in Montenegro…”
I look back at all my pictures from Montenegro some of them smiling, some of them partying, some… just nature and all I see is “Malaria”! All that time I was smiling, partying, doing sightseeing tours, traveling by bus, changing cities without knowing that inside, my body was at war.
I wrote a whole separate article about how I went through the malaria ordeal, so I’ll spare you the details here and try to focus on sightseeing in Montenegro. Don’t expect too much enthusiasm though, given the above circumstances.
A little bit about Montenegro. Ironically, the name of this country means, “Black Mountain” deriving from Italian or, with a bit of exaggeration, “Black trip” for me. The mountains are black, not because of some unknown dark spirits living there, but because of a tree species – the black pine. Dense forests of black pine trees cover the mountain peaks and trust me there a LOT of mountains in Montenegro. I almost felt claustrophobic for the first time in my life, despite my love for mountains. The whole country is crisscrossed with serpentines. They are a thrill for the jaw-dropping views but a nightmare for driving. Imagine driving this every day. No way. I need my Dubai 14 lanes highway.
Montenegro itself is a teeny-tiny country. You can drive almost the whole country in one day. I had 4 full days there, so the plan was to cover nearly all the touristy spots. But, due to my unplanned illness, here is what I managed to visit:
The town of Budva is famous for its abundant nightlife and Adriatic coastal beaches. Basically, what you do here is party at night and recover on the beach the next day. Miami, Paris, Trocadero, Top Hill (the mecca of clubbing in Budva), are few of the clubs that you can easily reach by walking along the promenade, except Top Hill.
Amongst the famous beaches in Budva, there are Mogren, Jaz, Ploce, Becici. I have only managed to go to Ploce and also saw Mogren from the boat, which I found very inviting. Locals and my Google research confirmed it too.
Apart from partying and getting roasted on the beach, you can also visit the old town of Budva. Not much to say here, a typical cute old town with souvenir shops and tempting restaurants. The only difference is, the Old Town is right next to the beach, which makes it a bit more special and enjoyable. In case you get overheated by the cobblestone streets, you can jump right into the sea to cool down.
2. Ploce Beach foam party
To reach Ploce beach, you need to take a boat. After a pleasant 20 min ride on water, you will soon hear the loud music beats. The nucleus of the antsy party is a pool with wooden beach umbrellas and high bar tables. Pretty cool idea. You can enjoy your drink under the umbrella while your feet are cooled down in the water. But, good luck finding a table! The pool is packed like sardines. This is the downside and the plus at the same time. Parties are fun when crowded.
We ordered our favorite Aperol Spritz cocktail and mingled in with the restless flock of people. In the heat of dancing, it started to snow. With foam! Lots of fluffy foam raining on us. The pond with dancing people suddenly became loud, friendly and ecstatic. The predators seized the opportunity to come out from the woods and make a move to the now ALL approachable lucky victims.
In that foamy moment, I felt the beauty and joy of young years in a way, only a crowded place filled with that special carefree vibe, could make you feel.
Around 5 PM, the pond started to calm down. When the adrenaline died, I instantly felt tired, but it wasn’t the usual tiredness after a party. It was more than that. Some sort of weakness and muscle ache.
Now, when I look back, I know that this was my very first symptom of malaria. So, all that time, I was dancing in the pool and the parasite inside me was having a party on its own, too. How synchronized! The irony of fate at its finest.
3. Sveti Stefan
Once a fisherman village, this little island is, nowadays a luxurious resort connected to the main land by a narrow manmade passage. Celebrities like Novak Djokovic hired out the entire island for his wedding. Ordinary mortals do not have access to the island unless they splurge on an expensive hotel room.
I was ok with the view of the island from the bus. If you want a closer look, you can visit the public beach next to it. Still, the view is better from somewhere above, like my window from the bus, which was climbing up the narrow mountain road.
4. Tara River Canyon
Tara River Canyon and Durdevica Bridge along with other natural wonders are part of the Durmitor National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage.
The canyon is the deepest in Europe (about 1300 m), and also makes it to the top 10 biggest canyons in the world.
Unfortunately, we only viewed it from the bus, for a few moments. It looked pretty steep. At that point, I regretted that we didn’t rent a car to take our time for sightseeing but quickly realized that there was no designated area on the road as a viewpoint, to stop.
5. Durdevica Tara Bridge
Another spectacular view of the Tara River is from Durdevica Bridge, which is 172m high. Here you can also do the zip line. I’ve skipped the zip line this time since I did it many times before. My friend tried it though but was not very impressed. She said it was too slow. And she was a first timer!
I chose to stroll along the beautiful bridge to breath in all the natural beauty and the flavor of the upcoming rain.
From this point onwards, I will have a very superficial view of the next sightseeing points, since my sickness was kicking in full on. My eyes certified that Kotor was by far the most beautiful spot from Montenegro. However, I couldn’t feel any excitement since my mind was preoccupied with my health.
We arrived in Kotor at night. The Old Town of Kotor is one of the most charming old towns I have seen so far, mainly for two reasons. First of all, the location. The town is located right under the rib of a mountain and right in front of him you have the calmness of the Boka Bay’s waters.
Secondly, the Old town is surrounded by fortifications from the Venetian period. As you can see, there is a lot of Italian influence in Montenegro, starting from the name of the country. To enter the town, you will have to pass through 16th-century gates (3 of them), which gives the Old town even more mystery and charm.
Once you are inside, you have the classic old town package: cobblestone pavements, narrow streets, old buildings, hidden passageways, small restaurants… And the atmosphere at night is so buoyant!
7. Boka Bay
The best way to explore Boka Bay is by boat. You’ll find plenty of them on the shoreline, most of them including visits also to Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks. Like this, you can hit three (not two) birds with one stone!
The beauty of Boka Bay resides in its fjordy appearance. Although the bay was not created by glaciers like in Norway, it has the appearance of a fjord with a backdrop of dramatic cliffs. Hence it is often called, Europe’s southernmost fjord.
8. Our Lady of the Rocks
All I can remember from this visit is – the roof of this small church was blue. My fever was kicking in at this point. All I wanted was, to finish the tour as quickly as possible. And cold water!
Not so soon. The next trial for me was the visit of another small town, which was supposed to enchant you with its old church and the waterfront road. Instead, I lay on the bench, waiting for the tour to finish. Yes, nice church! Can we go now?
What I liked most?
As I wrote in the post about malaria, my Montengro trip was a fiasco. Instead of a magnet, I came back home with a fever scan.
If I were healthy, Kotor town would have taken the trophy. Since I visited it when I was not at my best, I could not process properly its beauty. So my most vivid memory from Montenegro, is from the foam party. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
– Natalia –