We headed south for the day. In order to beat our fellow tourists to the boarder we got an early start which meant a 6:00 am wake-up call. Ouch! Crossing the boarder was the issue since we left a European Union (EU) country, Croatia, to enter a non-EU country, Montenegro, and did not want to get caught in a long line. The plan worked like a charm and we got through the boarder lickety-split.
Our drive took us right along the coast for the most part and was very beautiful. We passed small villages that were named for what, years ago, their speciality was. One name translated into ‘roof tiles’ for example; another was ‘cross stitch embroidery’ and then there was ‘salt.’ We passed olive, fig, and pomegranate trees as well as vineyards and a small herd of sheep being tended by a dog and its master. The country is mostly mountains and valleys with very little flat ground.
Our fabulous guide, a walking history, customs, and culture book, pointed out all sorts of things and gave us an overview of the small country of 2/3 of a million people. A first for me was seeing mussel ‘groves’ that provide mussels year around. They are situated where fresh water springs feed the salt water bay and create brackish water that mussels thrive in. Fun fact #1: Montenegro is home to the 2nd deepest canyon in the world (the Grand Canyon is the deepest). Fun fact #2: They are the 2nd tallest population in Europe after the Danes. Fun fact #3: The largest vineyard in Europe is here. Fun fact #4: Montenegro produces aluminum.
First stop: Perast, a dot on a magnificent bay surrounded by 49 mountains boasting a population of 180. It is home to two tiny islands, one natural and one man-made. The natural one has a small monastery that is closed to the public but makes a stunning impression from the shore. The man-made islet is called Our Lady of the Rock and dates back to the mid-1450s. It is home to a small, beautiful Catholic Church built in the 1600s. One of the tall, handsome citizens from fun fact #2 gave us a tour. This tall drink of water showed us 2,000 punched silver ‘plates’ ranging in size from around 2″ x 2″ to the largest which is maybe 10″ x 15.” They were all given to the church as gifts of gratitude by mariners who made it through some harrowing situation at sea. The oldest dates back to 1624 and the newest was given last year. Grateful people not able to afford silver tokens of this sort have donated paintings and other things of value to them. Lesser gifts range from a sewing machine to ceramic items to tools. Before leaving we lit a candle for Aunt Geri.
Second stop: Kotor. It is situated on the bay that fronts just a few hundred yards of flat land before the steep mountains take over. The Old City is a UNESCO site and boast a wall, part of which goes switch backing up the mountain looking much like a mini-Great Wall (of China). It was a work in progress from the 9th to the 19th centuries and is magnificent to look at. We did not, unfortunately, have time to walk the wall with its 1,300+ steps. The small city, limited in size by its lack of flat land, has lots of narrow alleyways, beautiful churches, and some great pizza a local recommended for lunch. We looked inside two Serbian Orthodox churches which were beautiful. Fun fact: The congregation does not sit during an orthodox service, therefore there are no pews. Tragic fact: Centuries ago there was a terrible earthquake in Kotor with staggering numbers left dead. Before all the bodies could be found and taken care of, rats moved in followed by the plague.
Last stop: Budva. This town where Russians have invested heavily and moved to in large numbers was of little interest to us since it’s a popular summer playground for lots of nightclub, concert attending, sun worshiping, gambling tourists. A bit too new and hodgepodge for our taste. It did have a small walled city and lots of small beaches which, like all beaches on the eastern Adriatic, do not have actual sand. These, however, have small pebbles and stones and are the best in the area. Budva dates back some 3,000 years.
We headed back to the boarder crossing ahead of the other tour buses (phew) and made it back for a quiet dinner in the hotel with Sandy and Alan.
3 thoughts on “A day in Montenegro”
Did you brag to the guide that you have hiked the grand canyon twice
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Again you never disappoint! Wonderful blog and love the pictures!!
Wow! What a great day!