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Entries about beach

Santorini, Paros and Mykonos

Fun in the Sun

sunny 30 °C

Santorini is built on the rim of a volcano overlooking a caldera. Even though we sort of, kind of knew what a caldera was it never hurts to double check. For the rest of you who are also not sure, a caldera is a “large, basinlike depression resulting from the explosion or collapse of a volcano”. Just what we thought but it never hurts to clarify. Lonely Planet advises, on arrival into Santorini, to catch a big open air ferry to receive the most spectacular view of the caldera. However the ferry we caught depended more on budget so we were on the speedy one that was all enclosed. This did not lessen our amazement at the sight of the caldera as we coasted into the port. The sheer cliffs that drop straight into the ocean with their tinges of red and pinks strewn through the rock, give way to the crystal clear waters of the Aegean. You can still tell the outline of the still active (no its not extinct) volcano with the rim almost apparent the whole way around. Along with the truckloads of other eager tourists we nudged (okay pushed) our way onto the shuttle bus and gripped the seats tightly as the bus wove its way up the windiest, narrowest, most gut-wrenching road I have ever been on to drop us off at the bus stop where we then proceeded to board another bus.

We had emailed our hotel previously to ask for directions (remember the 5 P’s) and knew exactly what we were doing. After disembarking off our second bus we then had to walk downhill, lugging 25kg of luggage, praying to God it wouldn’t roll away, dodging traffic to reach our hotel. Angeliki greeted us and showed us to our awesomely located room. We were staying in Firostefani which is the next ‘village’ from Fira (Thira). Fira is the main hub and has the hustle and bustle of all those monster cruise shippers every day. Our hotel was a 400m walk from the hub and even better, we had a room with an ocean view. Before you ask, we didn’t have a view of the caldera because you would have to sacrifice an organ for that but a view of the other side of the island. The first thing to do was to view the caldera from the top so into Fira we went. For those of you who have been to Santorini you understand what I am about to say, for those of you who haven’t….pay attention.
Viewing the caldera from the white and blue of the village is enough to bring a tear to your eye. The absolute and utter beauty and natural wonder lets you know that you must be standing in one of, if not the most beautiful place on earth. Look to your left and you see the escalator of white cubist residences scattered down the hillside with bumpy, lumpy winding paths leading you in, out and around. Beyond them is the endless blue of the ocean until it meets the light haze on the distant horizon. An endless blue sky as far as the eye can see with not a cloud in sight. Look to your right and you see more of the same but with a whole different score of shadows lighting them. The buses and boats down at the old port look like nothing more than toys as they scurry around at the water’s edge. Donkeys ramble up the path of 570 steps, ferrying tourists up and down all day with their donkey bells jangling with every step.
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Then comes sunset……this is when you look straight ahead. Santorini is famous for its sunsets and now I know why. Bars, restaurants, cafes and even the village edge become crammed with people happy to stand for an hour or so to watch the day end. If you can grab a seat then you’re one of the lucky ones. The sun taunts you with its slow descent into the haze. Every few minutes the sky changes colour and the shades of blue begin to change to pinks, reds and oranges. The days we were there, there were no clouds and the colours would radiate straight out along the horizon like spilt paint following a crack in the concrete. All of a sudden it begins to disappear behind the island in the middle of the caldera and then within moments it is gone. It has become sick of teasing us and just wants to go to bed. What amazes me is that something that happens every single day in our life as we are rushing around to do all our ‘important stuff’ becomes like a freeze frame of life when you are on Santorini. Basically nothing I say can really describe the beauty of this moment and the sunset alone is worth the trip. If you haven’t been to Santorini then put it on your list immediately.
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Quad bikes are the main form of tourist transport on Santorini because they won’t let you hire a scooter unless you have ‘motorbike’ stamped on your driver’s license. It was a nice change but we ended up having to swap it because it kept conking out on us and struggled badly to get up any form of hill. We had decided we were going to do a different beach every day and then on our last day pick a favourite. Day two was Akrotiri, the red sand beach. Following a winding track around the headland you stop at a peak and look down to see the steep embankment of red dirt. The sand is reddy brown colour and from a height is quite a vision. Navigating your way down the crumbling hillside is a touch tricky for some, not for us though. As we walked along the beach to find our possy, looking up you were able to see where the natural vertical seams in the 70-80m cliff had given way and slid down towards the water. There were sections of beach roped off as dangerous because of the chance of more landslides; some dedicated sunbakers were lying right in the ‘danger zone’. We parked further up the end where we had a sweeping view of the whole beach area.
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Day Three was Paradissos Beach, black sand, a quiet little stretch that seemed like a secret only special people knew about. We were special. The sea was a bit choppier but Adam still persevered with his ocean swim, such dedication. That night we also headed to Oia (eee-ah) to watch the sunset. Oia is reputed to have the ‘best sunset view’ on the island because it is uninterrupted. We cruised up there about five and were strolling through the village when all of a sudden we heard gunshots, loud ones. We couldn’t see anything but then they went again. It stopped us and others in our tracks. Being a bit hesitant to walk any further in case anything undesirable was happening we waited. Bang again and then again, three in a row this time. We were looking at each other, then at others, then each other again. Just as we were about to run away waving our arms frantically in the air we discovered what was happening……a wedding. Nothing like a shotgun to announce the groom and the guests walking through the village to get to the chapel, maybe their bonbonniere is earplugs. Back to our sunset mission, we scouted for the best spot, rounded up some beverages from the corner store and sat on a concrete wall waiting for ‘the moment’. As the time got closer and closer more and more people began arriving, all there to watch the sunset. When it was finally over we decided to do our ‘dinner dance’. Making our way back up the hill we were met with a traffic jam of people. What we hadn’t realised while we were perched on our concrete seat was that hundreds, maybe thousands, of people had congregated in every available, nook, cranny and perch to watch the sunset. This meant that everyone also decided to move at the same time. Queues and queues of people slowly walking up the hill, through the narrow lanes, deciding what to have for dinner by stopping at nearly every restaurant to view the menu. Heaven? I think not. Due to a mixture of hunger and frustration we chose the first empty restaurant to eat, at this point in time chair comfort and ambience was not a priority.
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The sunset at Oia is supposed to be the best sunset view on the island, we disagree. When the sun sets from Fira, the island in the centre of the caldera splits the light like a rainbow of warm colours making it more magnificent, we think, than Oia.
Day four and five were spent at Kamari beach, which reminded us of Bali only cleaner. Waterfront chairs, waiter service and the shade of an umbrella……perfection. Nights in Santorini were spent walking the lanes, finding good food and wine while days were spent in the sun. It was sad to leave but only because we did not know what awaited us.

Paros was a two hour slow trip on the big ferry and we arrived at 8pm. Naoussa is the village on the north side of the island and where we had booked our accommodation so we had to catch a bus there. I know I rave about the 5 P’s but they don’t always work when other things, namely useless hotel staff, work against you. Hence we arrived off the bus, in the dark with absolutely no idea which way to go next. “Over behind the big church” was as specific as it got from one waiter so into the night we headed. Up stairs, through lanes, past the big church…. and then what? Finally in the darkness of a back street we found it, thank you motorbike man. Reception empty, wide open but empty so we walked around doing the ‘heelllooo’ with no results until fed up we used their phone to ring the mobile number on the door. “I’ll be two minutes” was the response.

In the light of day we were off exploring the village of Naoussa and feeling very pleased with ourselves for where we had chosen to stay. It was the prettiest village we had stayed in so far and we spent the morning wandering its lanes and then catching the fishing boat over to Kolymbythres beach to spend a couple of late afternoon hours. The next day was my birthday, yay me, so it was my choice……..um I choose the beach, duh . That night we splurged on cocktails by the water and found ourselves not really hungry with all the free nibblies they provide with each order. By ten we thought perhaps we had better eat something so shared a pizza. All in all a good birthday was had by everyone, especially me. While sitting at one of the cocktail bars a movie crew started unloading equipment from the tiny three wheel utes they use to navigate the skinny lanes. Apparently an Italian movie company is making a movie in Paros and no matter how much we fluttered our eyelashes (me) and flexed our biceps (Adam) we were not asked to be extras. Hmmmm?
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More beach days and village nights with a quick day trip over to Antiparos, a five minute ferry ride over the channel. Seafood lunch by the water with the octopus hanging up to dry, could this be heaven? I think so. Antiparos is a smaller version of Paros but has the prettier beaches by far. The one we found was a small spit jutting out from the island. The yellow of the sand alongside the blue of the water made it an ideal resting place for the day.

Interesting fact……there are no sheep on any of the islands we have seen, only goats and a smattering of cows but these Greeks can cook lamb like you wouldn’t believe. Lamb in lemon sauce (my personal favourite), lamb in tomato sauce, lamb with potato, I could go on and on. We were eating so much lamb that Adam commented we might turn into one ha ha.

Four days on beautiful Paros was not enough and we both wanted to stay longer, much much longer. However schedules prevail and ours said Mykonos. Forty-five minutes was all it took to dock at Mykonos although we were lucky we made it with the sea angry that day my friends. Swaying and gripping seats while waiting to get off is not my idea of a good time and seasickness was not far off. I have my mother’s stomach.

Mykonos has a reputation of being gregarious and busy and if it was a person it would be that friend that always has to be the centre of attention. We spent our first few hours doing same ol’, same ol’ (exploring). Another island, another scooter, they truly are great fun. We only had two nights and so had to squeeze in as much beach time as possible so it was off to the beach. Mykonos is easily the most expensive and overpriced island we have stayed on, with coffees being up to seven Australian dollars. Ouch! Beach time was great and we were happy lolling on the sand in between dips in the water. After spending way too much money on dinner the first night we decided on pita gyros for lunch and dinner the second night. Considering this is the national food, it wasn’t too hard to find a yummy one.
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Mykonos is like one big catwalk and its reputation for being ‘gay friendly’ and overt is well deserved. It’s a fantastic place to people watch and a cheap way to pass the time. Our second day we parked ourselves on Paradise Beach, one of their party beaches and found ourselves mere metres from some nude middle-aged male sunbathers. It’s hard not to look but if you sneak a peek while one of them is bending over, trust me when I say you won’t look again. The beaches are beautiful and we snuck in a quick visit on our last morning so keen were we to soak it up. We finally threw away the towels we 'borrowed' from the hotel in Turkey. These towels could almost stand up by themselves they were so crusty because they hadn't been washed properly in ummmmm two months. It was a bittersweet moment tossing them in the industrial bin.
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Now as I sit here writing this we are on the ferry back to Athens. It is full of people and filling up even more. Two hours down, three to go. Keeping our heads down and making no eye contact is helping to preserve some personal space with a culture of people who truly don’t understand the concept. Tomorrow we head to Rome….yeah baby.

Posted by Ange and Adam 13:44 Archived in Greece Tagged sunset mykonos beach santorini ferry oia caldera paros perissa red_beach kamaria akrotiri Comments (0)

Bulgaria

A Little Less Salt

sunny 35 °C

Bulgaria, home of the Black Sea and more weightlifters per capita than any other country (we just made that one up), was border crossing number fourteen. Leaving Turkey would have been confusing for even the smartest of cookies, it was a matter of guessing what the customs officer was really trying to say as he grunted and pointed. However nothing prepared us for the debacle that was Bulgaria’s border crossing. There were about five stages, stage one was driving through a puddle of water after being waved on by not one but three officers which had us believing a water pipe must have burst (?). Stages two and three and even four were stock standard and then we got to stage five which is where the problems began. The officers at stage five wanted our certificate…..what certificate? Apparently it wasn’t a water leak, it was disinfectant and we were supposed to ‘know’ that we had to get out of the car and retrieve this certificate. So we had to backtrack to the disinfectant man sitting in his box and then redo everything over, meaning all in all crossing into Bulgaria took forty minutes longer than necessary.

Sozopol is a beach tourist trap on the coast of the Black Sea and our home for two nights. We checked into our hotel and this is where we met our new best friend (sorry everyone) Mariya. She was gorgeous and we loved her. Mariya is Bulgarian but a true world traveller and was very excited about her arrival because we were Aussies, so we were off to a good start regardless. She helped us with our accent, or tried to, and told us which bar to go to if we wanted to be cool. We were all ears. We sauntered, strolled and wandered the streets of Sozopol which was a refreshingly clean change from the grime and grubbiness we had come to expect of Turkey. The beach was sand, long goldeny stretches of it with a busy little cove as the town beach. The ambience was busy but laid back, if that is possible. After arriving back to our hotel on the very first night we booked ourselves a third night because of the love for Bulgaria that was coursing through our veins. We had great summer weather and shared our time between the hotel pool, cruising the streets or laying on the beach. Lots and lots of boobs at Sozopol, all different shapes and sizes and that goes for the bodies attached to them as well. It’s kind of like a car accident, you don’t want to look but at the same time can’t help yourself. We were both glad for having mirrored glasses, for different reasons though. We spent some quality time at Mariya’s haunt, Tequila bar, after dinner and indulged in four cocktails and three large vodkas for the bargain basement price of $21(Australian). Needless to say we were a bit fragile the next day and luckily enough had the warm sunshine and cool water to freshen us up. Interesting fact….the Black Sea has 50% less salt than any other ocean/sea in the world so you didn’t quite get that crusty feeling on you like you do from normal ocean swimming.
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After three nights by the coast it was time to head inland again and off to the town of Plovdiv. It had ottoman houses, cobblestones and six hills. Apparently it used to be seven but they blew one up during construction (or something like that). A decent walk into town and the Cyrillic alphabet on street signs ensured we worked up a sweat plodding up and down the biggest cobblestones to date. Our hotel had an in house beauty salon and so we decided to treat ourselves to a massage. Months of walking and lugging bags are taking their toll. Bitterly disappointed is probably the best way to describe the effort produced by our young wannabe masseuse. After the hour we walked away oiled up and unsatisfied…..from the massage that is.

Veliko Tarnovo was stop number three in Bulgaria and is a small university town with a castle (surprise, surprise) and apparently a damn good light and audio show. Based on Lonely Planet and Mariya’s recommendation we booked a room at a very stylish hotel for one night. A quaint atmosphere made up for the fact that the super spectacular light show was a no go for the one night that we were there…typical. Never mind, doesn’t matter. Final stop on the itinerary was Varna…beach town number two.
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Varna is like Sozopol but multiplied by 100….bigger and busier. The beach wasn’t as long but still golden sand and cool, clean, refreshing water. The Europeans build cafes, bars, souvenir stalls and fast food outlets right up to the beach, which in some ways ruins the beach atmosphere but amps up the party atmosphere. Varna is also home to the Guinness World Record Holder for biggest cocktail list and at $4 a pop, what choice did we have? They were very tasty and refreshing. One of the restaurants also had a sushi bar which was the first one we had seen since leaving Australia so because I love sushi we ate there for three meals in two days….yum yum. Whoever said variety is the spice of life is wrong.
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Our hotel in Varna was a five starrer which was great and so we squeezed in a sauna and a dip in the rooftop pool. Varna was full of international tourists as well as local tourists unlike Sozopol which seemed to just attract the local tourists. This made Sozopol a bit more fun because we were more special there and we liked feeling special.

Bulgaria was beautiful, friendly and clean and we enjoyed all the towns we visited. By the time we left the morons at the border were nothing more than a distant memory and meeting Mariya was a great way to start Bulgaria. Romania is our next destination and we are looking forward to Dracula territory….I feel a tacky souvenir spree coming on.

Posted by Ange and Adam 12:39 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged beach sozopol varna plovdiv veliko_tarnovo black_sea Comments (0)

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

From Castles to Battlefields

sunny 40 °C

Kizkalesi was the first stop on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey for us. It was only going to be a one nighter, a stopover plus it had a floating castle about 500m off the coast which read really nicely in the Lonely Planet bible. To understand Kizkalesi you may need to refer back to the section on Budva (remember 80’s Gold Coast?) and you’ll get a fair idea of what it was like. The big difference though were the muslim women wearing swimming suits that looked like raincoats, full length, head covering, ugly patterned swimsuits. Mind you, the people were, once again, super duper friendly and couldn’t do enough for us. However after feeling the need to wear gloves when touching anything we were happy to leave the next morning.

After Kizkalesi it was on to Antalya, one of the biggest cities on the coast, where we had booked a room in the old town for three nights. With the coastline being what it was we made sure our hotel had a pool. A gorgeous little boutique hotel that saw a lot of us over the three days because lo and behold Sultan’s Revenge struck again (known as bali belly in other regions). Adam was the lucky victim this time and was laid up for a day getting familiar with the bathroom. We blame it not on a particular dish but on a nut vendor who offered us samples from his bare hands (I know, I know how stupid were we)and then proceeded to become slightly miffed when we didn’t want to buy the $20 worth of nuts he shovelled (again with bare hands) into brown paper bags. He was not going to let us walk away empty handed but relented when Adam requested that he ‘don’t touch’ him. He’d be happy to know we were both a bit delicate for almost a week. Adam fared worse than me because after working around snotty, sneezy kids (not you girls) my immune system can handle pretty much anything.

Anyway it gave us plenty of time to lounge by the pool while the overzealous cleaning lady basically rearranged our belongings to the way it suited her, right down to stacking our books and throwing our dirty clothes back into our suitcase. We did discuss giving her a stern talking to about touching our stuff but one look at her face sent us scurrying so we were all talk and no action on that front.

We decided to can the rest of the coastline and head inland to Pamukkale. This town is known as the ‘Cotton Castle’. For centuries volcanic activity has forced water full of calcium caltrate to flow out of the earth and as it has flowed down the hillside it has hardened. The hillside looks like it is covered in snow or ice but it is actually caltrate with naturally forming thermal springs all up the side of the hill. You can walk up them, bare feet only, and dip in the pools all the way up to the top. The water trickles over the hardened caltrate the whole way down and is something unlike anything we have seen before. It is a truly remarkable sight and yet probably only covers an area of about 5km2. At the top of the hill are the ruins of Hierapolis, a retreat built by the Romans, which took advantage of the so-called health benefits. One thing that did pique our interest though is the way Eastern European women feel the need to pose for photos. Compared to them our photos are tame and prudish. These women drape themselves over rocks, ruins, pools in provocative positions and often become the main feature of the photo rather than the scenery they are posing in. It is truly bizarre, some of the poses, unmentionables, have us shaking our head or laughing or both. Think Ralph models and you’ll be halfway there.
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From Pamukkale it was off to Izmir and we had scored a five star hotel, the Swissotel Grand Efes, no breakfast included though. On the way to Izmir we stopped off at Ephesus, one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Roman Empire, we were a bit ho hum about looking at more ruins but knew it was a must see and we are glad we did. It covered an enormous area and had amphitheatres and the old latrines (that’s toilets for the uneducated). They sat pretty close in those toilets. It is amazing that even with their lack of technology and industry they were still able to build things that can withstand ‘life’ for 5000 years. Their ‘technology’ and ‘industry’ could possibly be better than our modern version. The heat was stifling and the paths were crowded but it was definitely worth the effort to see.
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We arrived at Izmir hankering for the three nights of luxury we were about to enjoy; not much to report really except we spent a lot of time by their gorgeous pool. The hotel had a great feature in the rooms though, scales. Don’t scoff, these scales made you skinnier each time you stepped on them. I truly believe that I was getting skinnier every time I stepped on but Adam was cynical and so the hotel earned the name ‘Anorexia Hotel’. Izmir has a great promenade and we prowled along up to the bazaar area to look again at stall after stall of quality Turkish merchandise a.k.a junk.

Another location on the list was the ruins of the city of Troy. It was 9km off the main road towards Canakkale and knowing the legend we decided to stop in. There is hardly anything left just the bases off some marble columns. We were through in about 20 minutes and were not very impressed by the ruins. Ephesus gave a much better indication of ancient life. If you are wondering about the Trojan horse, well they have a very poor imitation of it in the main entry area. It looks like it has been constructed of fence palings and is only about 15metres high.
Our last and possibly our most important stop was Canakkale, which was the town we were based in to go to Gallipoli. Once again construction in the streets, not just one but all, hindered our search for our hotel but we finally found the Grand Anzac Hotel. We immediately booked a tour for the next day as this was not something we wanted to do ourselves; we were going to trust the experts.

TJ was our tour guide and we were on a bus with a small group of Aussies and Kiwis (about 15 of us). TJ is Turkish but is married to an Aussie girl who lives in Corowa (near Albury-Wodonga) and he is officially an Australian citizen who is the only person to take his citizenship pledge in Gallipoli. He has a passion for the region and really knows his stuff. He was fascinating to listen to and gave a great background to each sight as we pulled up. Perhaps the most poignant places were Anzac Cove and the Lone Pine Cemetery. Anzac Cove has suffered from erosion and now only has about six metres of sand left. To see the harsh landscape that the Anzacs had to scramble up and over really hit home about how terrifying this must have been for them. We visited the graves and were able to sign the visitors book at Lone Pine. Being there also highlighted how far the Anzacs were from achieving their goal and how they really were fighting an unwinnable battle. TJ had some great anecdotes from the time and he had everyone in the group hypnotized with his storytelling. It is difficult to really explain Gallipoli only to say that it made us proud to be Australian and to hear the stories of these brave soldiers. It is a pilgrimage every Aussie should make.
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Another great thing about the day was being around other Aussies, and really understanding again how laid back we truly are. We didn’t have people pushing in front of us to take photos or be first on or off the bus. By the end of the day we were sitting with some of the guys from Curl Curl who are three weeks into their five month trip and so we were all swapping stories. It was fun.

So now it is time to leave. Turkey has been an enormous culture shock for us in many ways and even though we are ready to leave and head to our next country, Bulgaria, it has been a great three weeks full of friendly people and amazing sights, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Posted by Ange and Adam 13:04 Archived in Turkey Tagged beach town izmir castle old antalya anzac gallipoli pamukkale çanakkale calcite Comments (1)

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 Comments (0)

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