After a couple of days of sightseeing in Dubrovnik, we decided to headed over to Montenegro for a little change of pace. Montenegro is tiny and our hotel assured us we could see the best parts of the country in 12 hours. We aren’t usually ones for guided tours but the price was right and the AC would be on in the minivan.
So right off the bat, I’m going to say that our opinions of Montenegro are a bit biased. Our tour guide, Johnny, was very anti-Montenegro. Actually, we take that back; he was very pro-Croatia, anti-Russian, anti-Montenegrin policy. So, Montenegro is a country of green mountains (not black) and is a relatively young country. Montenegro was part of the last reincarnation of Yugoslavia which basically was Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. In 2006, Montenegro declared it’s independence pretty easily.
Johnny told us that the current president of Montenegro was (or is) the biggest tobacco smuggler in the region. He’s friends with Russian tycoons (and Mafia) and is a bit of a crook. Money from the EU designated for roads and infrastructure are being used for presidential homes. I don’t know if it’s true or not, I couldn’t be bothered to do the research. Johnny said that Croatia and Montenegro started out on the same foot after the war and in the last few years since Montenegrin independence are going in opposite directions (Croatia up, Montenegro down).
We took Johnny’s words with a grain of salt and were ready to embark on a Montenegrin adventure. First off, some little town about an hour from the boarder.
It was a scenic and sleepy place on the water. It had the mandatory church and scantily clad boat captain who would lake you joy riding on the water.
After a 45 minute stop in town, we hopped on the bus and continued to the walled city of Budva. Our guide loved him some Budva. We liked Budva well enough but it’s nothing compared to the hundreds of walled cities we’d seen in Italy or Dubrovnik.
After another hour or so there, we got back in the minivan and headed to Kotor but stopped at scenic vista first. I don’t know if you can see the little island behind us but it called Sveti Stefan Island. Apparently, the casino scenes in Casino Royale were filmed there. We were hoping to check it out but were to told the President sold it to some Russian businessmen who were renting out to some Saudi princes or something and it was closed to the public. LAME. We also learned that you can sell a UNESCO historical site (which the island was).
So we hopped back on the bus for a disappointing trip to Kotor. Kotor was weird. It was a strange mix of Brighton Beach and Venice Beach but without character or anything redeeming about it. The place had really been taken over by the Russians. We saw more signs in Russsian than we did in Montenegrin. I actually had to use my Russian to get us food at a local cafe. Don’t get me wrong, I (not we) love Russia but definitely not that version of it. It was trashy and dirty. We disliked it so much that we didn’t even take pictures.
When Johnny found out how we felt about Kotor he seemed to be very please and it made him like us even more. He said the entire country was turning into Kotor. We hope that’s not true.
We headed home after Kotor and took the ferry instead of driving the 2 hours along the coast. Finally, some time on the water!
So, Montenegro? I’m going to say take it (maybe) if you are not spending more than 3-4 hours on the coast and leave it if you are. I hear there is great skiing inland. We hope the rest of the country has managed to stayed a bit more Montenegrin (whatever that is).