vacation slides continue
Just in case there are a couple of readers I haven't bored to tears yet...
Montenegro is seriously beautiful. It's one of the most spectacular places I've ever been, up there with Switzerland and South Africa in terms of dramatic landscapes. Despite the fact that Montenegro is now an independent country (the world's second-newest state), the Serbs never really hated Montenegro, so it didn't suffer as much war damage as did some of its other neighbors. Add to that the facts that the people are totally friendly, it's relatively easy to get around, and things are still pretty inexpensive and you've got a great vacation destination. Seriously. You should all go. Montenegro means "black mountain," as does Crna Gora, its name in the local version of Serbo-Croat. While there is, apparently, a specific black mountain, almost the whole country is mountainous. Coming from Kosovo, there are mountains for four hours, then you come out onto a wide plain where the capital, Podgorica, sits, then it's back into the mountains as you head in any direction.
I chose to spend my time in Montenegro on the coast, where the mountains dramatically drop to the Adriatic Sea and a small coastal area with lots of cute little resort towns. Since I arrived in the dark, I didn't see most of this until leaving the coast. Kotor, the town I decided to visit, is amazing. It's a very old walled city that sits at the base of a mountain fortress on the edge of southern Europe's biggest fjord. With its narrow streets and stone paving, the town looks like something from a fairy tale: I kept expecting to see a Disney princess jump out and burst into song or something. Here's a view of the hillside fortress from one of the city's many churches:
Here's a view of the old city from the entrance to the fortress:
It didn't hurt that I stayed at the lovely Hotel Vardar (check out their website for a view of the fjord and the bay from the top of the fortress):
Kotor also has lots of cute little piazzas with cafes where you can sit and enjoy a coffee and the sunshine for hours on end. The best part is that, despite the fact that I was there in the low season, the cafes were still full of locals. People actually live and work in Kotor.
Here's a view of the fjord looking out towards the bay.
And the fortress:
It's kindof hard to see, but if you click on the pictures to enlarge them, you'll see the hillside fortifications.
The fjord is absolutely beautiful. I'd never seen a fjord before. The pristine blue waters were almost irresistable, except for the whole "it's cold outside" thing.
Sadly, I only had a day to spend in Kotor before heading back to Podgorica, where I spent the night in a freezing cold hotel room with inadequate heating in order to catch a 7:30am bus back to Kosova. Within ten minutes of leaving the station, our driver ran a red light, got pulled over by the police, and we sat on the side of the road for an hour. After an hour, they let him move the bus to this market/restaurant, where we sat for another 2 1/2 hours while the driver waited for the police, was picked up by the police, went to the police station, and came back from the police station with matters settled. It was, perhaps, not the best way to end my Montenegran experience, but I will definitely go back to try out the country's whitewater rafting and other outdoor activities, as well as to hang out at the beach.