Montenegro - A destination hard to forget
There are only two degrees Celsius outside in Romania and I have the feeling that sometime this week it’s going to start snowing. What better time to have a black coffee and dream of the warm wonderful places you’ve visited last summer? And what better place to think of than Montenegro, with its beautiful beaches and beautiful olive trees (one if the oldest olive trees in the world is near Bar and has been there for the last 2000 or so years). But I am now dreaming and not giving you the facts.
We visited Montenegro as part of our Balkan (semi) tour, through Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Hungary. By far, the country I would most likely return to is Montenegro. It has spectacular views, it is full of nice people who will not understand English, but they will really make an effort to help you, you can have steep mountains and clear blue sea in the same picture, cheese and olives for breakfast and sea fruits for dinner. Also, fruits (the ones that grow in trees) all around you: figs, pomegranates, limes, kiwis growing wild on the roadside!
Coming from Serbia, we passed through the country from North to South, this giving us the chance to see some very beautiful mountain views. One of the best is the view from Tara Canyon. The spectacular color of the river bellow comes from the algae found in the water, we were told. Wherever it may come, the effect is very impressive. We didn’t have a lot of time, so we only admired Tara from the bridge above, but we will definitely return for some rafting through those steep rocks. I think that might be the best way to explore those mountains and next time we will try it ourselves for sure.
Next, we stopped at Crno Jezero, which means “The Black Lake”. It is a glacier lake and not black at all, but of the same blue-green color as the Tara River. The lake (there are two of them, actually, The Black Lake and The Bear Lake, but in spring they become one) stands in a conifer forest, at the foot of a very rocky mountain - breathtaking! The walk around it takes about one hour and you may need to wear boots, but the views are enchanting.
Our next stop was at Podgorica, the capital city. It is small and less rocky that the rest of the country, but the people there are nice and the food really good. We ate in a very strange place, with religious paintings on the wall and monks serving us, but the monastery-like food vas very good and cheap (about 2 euros per person - cheap even compared with Romania).
After that, we had our first view of the Adriatic Sea, at Budva, where we stayed the night and the night after that. Here, you should not miss the tour of the old city, the “Starigrad”. It is a medieval fortress in the middle of the sea with palm trees and olive trees, so you will definitely not regret it. In one of the buildings, there is an impressive library, with books about the history of the Balkans, where you can probably spend the next four years of your life reading and still don't have a clue about what is going on in the region…
Near Budva, we visited the luxury resort of Sveti Stefan, but although the old city there is very beautiful also and the park in front of it well kept, we didn’t like the fact that you can’t visit the inside of old city, because now it’s a privately own hotel. Moreover, the beach costs 50 euros/person.
The best place in Montenegro, in my opinion, is the Starigrad of Kotor, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. To describe it, I would probably have to write a new article, but all that I can say now is that you should visit it. Climb to the top of the mountain (but, please, take water with you!), walk on every street you find, eat there, fish there, love there, whatever - it’s the perfect background for whatever you may choose to do - and most of all, you should stay the night, so you can start all over again the next day.
After Kotor, we left Montenegro for Croatia. However, next summer we decided to return and spend our 10-days vacation in a small fishermen village on the coast, eating shrimps and goat cheese and having something to dream about when winter comes again in Romania.