A Travellerspoint blog

Spit and Polish

sunny 29 °C

Aaahhh Montenegro…it read so beautifully that the anticipation was almost tangible. We had arranged to really stretch out our time in this small country. Twelve nights seemed like a good amount of time to spend by the turquoise waters and the mountains running seamlessly into the still waters of the Adriatic. Dubrovnik had been so beautiful that we thought Montenegro was going to continue that glorious coastline and ambience. Our next leg headed down to the start of the Bay of Kotor. Catriona Rowntree did this on Getaway once and we had remembered. She made it look so beautiful. Between Catriona and Lonely Planet we were well informed and excited.

The Bay of Kotor is a massive bay that runs 12km inland so you are on the coast but not on the coast. Our first stop was the town of Perast. Perast is a fishing village from the 17th and 18th century and is basically one street that runs directly along the waterfront with houses built back into the hill. It doesn’t really allow tourist traffic so we had to get permission to pass through the boom gate to go to our hotel which had car parking for our ‘little girl’. Our hotel was right on the water and seemed to be in such a picturesque location. We checked in and had to pump the receptionist for any information on the town. She was a real gem. Heading down the main street took all of about 2 minutes and was more demure than we had imagined. Two nights here was going to be verrrryyyyy relaxing (and long). Dinner was by the water and fresh fish that had been caught right out in front of the town, yum yum. Little were we to know that the most exciting part was yet to come.

Early in the morning we were woken by what sounded like sausages sizzling on a hotplate, yet being half asleep not much attention was really being paid until….Adam decided (being an early riser anyway) that something was not quite right. Following the noise to the window and peering out and up saw that just outside our window (and we mean just-think being able to reach and touch) that electrical cables that run from the main poles to the building were on fire. Yes that’s right you heard correctly….ON FIRE PEOPLE!!!! Adam felt like playing the hero (he was up anyway so no big deal) and ran outside in his pj’s to raise the alarm. This is the town with more fire engines than restaurants. Having no Serbian to fall back on communication with the only visible local was next to impossible and so with a heavy heart he headed back up to check on his fair damsel who was still enjoying her beauty sleep. Adam trusted that the hotel would take care of this seemingly pressing emergency. Within 10 minutes all the electricity went out and guess what……the whole town then had no power for the rest of the day. THE WHOLE TOWN!!!!! NO POWER!!! NO COFFEE!!!!

Heading down to breakfast seemed like the most obvious thing to do and we headed down to the waterfront terrace which gave picture perfect views across the area. Those clouds coming over the mountain though were getting darker and coming closer. Next minute hail, you think we’re joking don’t you, HAIL the size of peas and cherry tomatoes (vege theme) which covered the surface for as far as the eye could see for about 20 minutes. We were trapped in the waterfront terrace with bits of hail bouncing in and peppering the floor. Then all of a sudden it stopped and the clouds dissipated and the sky was blue again. The electricity was still off though and stayed off until about 3pm by which time we had walked the main street about fourteen times. Always being time savvy though we headed over to the man-made island which lay just off the coast. There is a church there named Lady of the Rock and began in 1452 with one rock and then each year on the 22 July men from the town bring rocks to the island to keep building it up. The women aren’t allowed; apparently they are just supposed to provide moral support. If you ask me the bloody island would have been finished a long time ago if they had let the women just get in and get the job done. Perast was pretty and apparently Michael Douglas has a house there but with a second day waking up to sausages sizzling and intermittent electricity we were ready to go.

We headed off to Kotor at the very end of the bay for the next five nights. Our accommodation had great views and run by the friendliest lady ever…nothing was too much trouble. Kotor has a small old town and it didn’t take long to explore. It was a lot quieter than any of the other old towns and was perhaps not as glamorous as we had imagined. As a matter of fact, Montenegro was not as glamorous as we had imagined but more on that later. White water rafting was booked in and required a hefty drive. Three hours back up to the border with Bosnia to raft the Tara River. 5.30am start and a wrong turn that took us on a road no wider than a double bed with grass growing up through the middle of it, we made it to Camp Grab to raft with a French couple and an Israeli couple. The water was icy to say the least but the scenery breathtaking. Lunch was a hearty meal of meat and veges with soup and cheeses which was followed by the three hour drive home. Eyes tired but contented that after our last rafting disaster this one had actually happened.

Kotor time was spent quietly with a major exertion of walking up 1500 steps to the fortress and time on the concrete slabs they call a beach. We did find though that we had overestimated how much time we would need and there is no one to blame for that except Catriona and the Getaway team (;-)). Kotor needed a bit of spit and polish to really bring out its potential. The old town was clean and well looked after, there were luxury yachts docked in the small harbour and the food was great. Outside the old town was a completely different story though and had broken concrete, trip hazards, lots oflitter and run-down buildings everywhere. It was disappointing especially when you look around at the landscape and the mountains and the natural resources they are given and they just HAVE NO IDEA how to use them properly AND with respect to the environment.

We left Kotor by way of the National Park to our next destination – Budva. Now there’s a whole different kettle of fish. Budva (great name don’t you think?) is like letting people from Blacktown run the Easter Show at Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast) in the 70’s. Are you picturing it? Trashy, a poor mans’ holiday but plenty to make you giggle. Our hotel was great and the first one with a pool. Walking the promenade past all the beachgoers was interesting. Europeans are not body conscious and are happy to let it all hang out, men, kids, women, grandmas and grandpas and we mean ALL hang out. It can be a tad confronting to our delicate eyes. The problem here on in for us was finding a beach that was clean. Montenegrins and their fellow Europeans have no qualms in flicking cigarette butts in the water, leaving plastic bottles and bags on the rocks or in the water and just generally treating the beach like one big garbage bin.

The most interesting things in Budva are the nightclubs. Along the main promenade you have a mix of ice-cream stores, cafes, restaurants, dress and souvenir shops and nightclubs. Large open air pumping out the tunes at 5000 decibel nightclubs with the obligatory group of ‘pretty’ girls out the front enticing you in to come in, drink and watch the pole dancers. Now before you think big deal a nightclub, think of this – they are all open air, which means all the kids walking past can stand out the front and watch the pole dancers gyrate and shimmy on the tabletops. Now being investigative and curious types we felt it imperative to give this nightclub thing a bit of a look so on our last night in Budva, in we went. We had a couple of drinks, shook our groove thangs to a few of the tunes and were just generally soaking up the vibe when…..double take there was a child in the club. At the table next door to us was a kid no older than twelve having a drink with his mum and dad (?). He was drinking coke but still What The??? Angela began giving the mum extreme stink eye in the hope she would feel her utter disgust but she just continued sipping on her beer and shaking her hips while flashing too much flesh. Gross and Totally Inappropriate….are we prudish? Hmmmmm Just for the record he did not look like he was enjoying himself either, in fact he was looking at the dancers as though this was not the first time he had seen them.

We were well and truly ready to leave Budva and headed to our last coastal stop Petrovac. Our hotel was great and we headed straight down to the beach. We had a quick dip, Adam nearly swallowed a cigarette butt and then we soaked up the sun on our deck chairs. A short time later Adam looked up to see a pad (and not the notebook type) floating on the water, then another and another and another. OMG! There were so many out there we thought men must have used them as well. The worst part was people were swimming near them or even just pushing them out of the way to swim past. That was the last straw and we packed up and went back to the hotel. The next day we drove down the coast looking for a clean beach but, and how sad is this, couldn’t find one. There was not a single beach in a 30km radius that did not have ‘rubbish’ floating in the water. Even the areas back behind the beaches are treated like tips and it is no big deal to see large piles of rubbish dumped all along the sides of the road. We were absolutely lost for words in disbelief, anger and disappointment. How could a country with SO much natural beauty be treated with such disregard?

Needless to say when we woke up this morning we were ready to leave Montenegro. We headed inland to our transit stop in Andrejevica on our way to Kosovo. Checking into our hotel we found out the owner has a daughter in Australia and while having lunch in the café, the son shouted us lunch because he ‘loves Australians’…beauty. So all’s well that ends well. The trick with Montenegro is to stick inland with the beautiful mountains and their sheer faces and view the beaches from a distance and all will be good.

Posted by Ange and Adam 07:52 Archived in Montenegro Tagged beach dirty fortress kotor budva lovcen perast petrovac

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