It’s been 3 days since we arrived in Montenegro. We got here on Friday, through rain, storms and incredible traffic jam. We’ve been to Dubrovnik before, which we haven’t seen because of the weather. It rained when we got there, it rained in the morning and in the afternoon. I’ll skip the fact that we spent Thursday evening looking for a hotel for 2 hours, driving from one place to another and finally finding the ONLY place open at the time, with rooms priced at 150 euro per person. Definitely one of the worst ways to spend money on this trip! Unfortunately 4 persons including a 3-year old in a car seat, sleeping in a car, were not an option…
Montenegro also welcomed us with pouring rain. We decided o set our camp in Budva which the guide described quite positively – pretty old town, a citadel, beautiful views and a beach. Our first impressions were quite different though…a big city, too many large buildings, some construction sites, cranes, no sight of the pretty old town! Our apartment turned out to be pretty cool, however the promised sea view looked quite different than on Booking.com. Between us and the sea, there was a whole bunch of ugly buildings. Feeling hopeful, we went to a fish restaurant, reportedly the best one in whole Montenegro. An unfriendly waiter, overfried calamari, tasting like they were fried on old grease, the pasta for Maks so dull that it was hard to make him eat more than 5 spoons of it, grilled calamari also far from perfect. And a ton of Russians around. Loud, quick, the service throws the meals on your table with no sense of commitment. There’s a promenade around, with kebabs, pancakes and rubbish worse than in Władysławowo. We try to cheer up thinking that these are only the suburbs of Budva – maybe it will be better in the centre? On the next day we go to the city centre and to the old town (Stari Grad)! First a seaside promenade. In a restaurant the waiter mutters „mussels today no”, „vongole today no”, only „ribny filet” today. We wait for the food for ages, pasta with seafood is very poor – just a mix of random seafood with 2 mussels, 3 shrimps, a piece of calamari, served with parmesan and we know that sea food pasta never should be served with parmesan. If they serve Italian meals, they should do it right! Calamari is better than yesterday, but still far from the ideal. Fortunately Maks likes his tomato soup! When it comes to payment, it turns out that we pay as much as in Italy! Such prices, not reflecting the quality at all, can be found everywhere here. An outrage! The old town is our last hope: tiny alleys are here, the citadel from the 15th century too… but it’s crowded and it’s really hard to find some genuinely beautiful places. Even the Holy Trinity Church is spoiled by some metal platforms near it. We walk, look for something that will amaze us. Unfortunately, the nearby beach is dirty, with neglected toilets. Not too pleasant. The walk back home, through the footpath surrounded by colourful stalls, more kebabs, pancakes, dried pizza and colourful fakes. The only positive thing, a stand with fresh juices! We take a few and all taste great! We get back home for dinner and think what to do next! First encounters with Montenegro in Budva are a bit frightening… We want charming places, not a cheap country festival crowded with undemanding tourists. Even though we managed to take some nice pictures of Budva, we do not recommend it. Don’t waste your time – there’s so many prettier places around!
On Sunday, we quickly run away from Budva. We drive towards Boka Kotorska, bay (supposedly beautiful), Kotor town that is a serious competition for Dubrovnik, Herceg Nori and Perast – destroyed by the earthquake in 1979 and still undiscoverd by mass tourism.
Kotor is just 25 km from Budva. At first the road isn’t too amazing, but when we get to the bay it’s absolutely fantastic. The mountains “bath” in the waters of the bay and the red tiles of houses in the front look like a postcard! Maks falls asleep so we decide to go to the furthest spot – to Herceg Novi, approx. 45 km from Budva. The road is absolutely beautiful. By the bay, with stone houses around, peaceful and quiet, a perfect scenery for an romantic movie or a music video about summer love. We board a ferry in Lepetane, which takes us to Kamenari in just 5 minutes. From here Herceg Novi is at a stone’s throw.
Herceg Novi is double-sided – on one hand: modern buildings, not all of them pretty, a footpath with more stands. On the other: it’s quiet and peaceful, not crowded, you can feel he holiday vibe. We walk through the seaside promenade until we reach the ruins of Forte Mare fortress, where we turn towards the old town. There are several strongholds in the city which makes sightseeing with 3-year old knight/dragon slayer wannabe a pleasure. The city was established in the end of 14th century, it was under Turkish jurisdiction for a long time, then under Spanish and between 1797 and 1918, Austrians ruled here. Herceg Novi’s old town is a charming place for a Sunday’s walk – empty streets, lazy cats lying around which Maks interrupts while they’re sleeping, stone stairs, tiny churches. If you climb the walls of Kanli Kula stronghold built by the Turks in 15th century, you will get some amazing views of Boka Kotorska. Walking around the old town, we circled and got back to Forte Mare fortress. There, you will find a tiny gravel beach. It’s not exceptionally beautiful, but if you’re travelling with somebody who JUST NEEDS TO go the beach like Maks, take the opportunity! By Forte Mare you will find a pleasant restaurant with some shade called Tre Lipe. Calamari stuffed with ham and cheese taste great!
We left Herceg Novi late afternoon and moved along. We followed the road by Tivatski zaliv and Risanski zaliv which took us to Perast, a little city that drew our attention in the guide thanks to one of our readers’ remark – thanks Ewa:)! Her comment was much more inviting than many of the guides descriptions: “ I can’t describe this city in a short entry. I’m just in love with it. During the day, when the main (and only) street is crowded with tourists, it’s not different than other charming cities of the Adriatic coast. But stay in it for a while and you will feel this “something” special. I already can’t wait to get there next year with my husband and try crab cream in Skolja restaurant or order calamari stuffed with calamari in Armoania. So delicious!
Quite accidentally, we got to Perast in the evening. It was getting dark, little promenade by the coast was almost deserted and we could clearly see the beauty of the bay restaurants, perfect for a romantic evening, stone houses, some turned into hotels, some completely destroyed after the earthquake in 1979, with grass growing on them. It all made for a great vibe of the city. Perast is also worth visiting thanks to little islands with churches in the middle of Boka Kotorska, which can be seen best from here. They look amazing! And I liked fish soup with vegetables the most when we were in Skolja 🙂
After first disappointment, Montenegro managed to amaze us. With charming little towns, breathtaking views of Boka Kotorska, with peace! We don’t want to leave anymore, we want to explore more – we’re going to Kotor, then to the capital – Cetinje and then south to see other gems on the Adriatic coast.
A week in the Balkans has passed – it’s surely a place we will recommend, a place that’s amazing and inviting. Mostar, Sarajevo, mills on Pliva and Perast are the best things we’ve seen so far. The roads are sometimes difficult, curvy and mountainous, but Balkans are generally a place that’s tourism-friendly, and what’s even better – parents with children-friendly. It’s also been a week of travelling with HTC One (m8). We do not carry the camera with us, we do not change the lenses. We take even more pictures than before and I have to admit that we sometimes argue: “Give me that HTC, I want to put something on Insta, I want to take some pictures too!”:) You all seen how the pictures look! 🙂 Our opinion is, that contrary to other phones, these look good both on the smartphone screen and on the computer. So we go on and set our parameters, choose lighting, crop, brighten and take a few dozen more pictures everyday! We’ll write more about HTC travel support soon! 🙂
* The entry was written in cooperation with HTC. All pictures were taken with HTC One(M8).