It’s 7.30am. All over Dubrovnik, coaches are loading up for a day trip to Montenegro. We have pre-booked a small group tour, and when another couple drop out due to illness, suddenly it is just the four of us again, together with driver and guide, in a mini-van. All along the route we encounter the same coaches, we are following a regular path around the bay of Kotor.
The local name for Montenegro is CrnaGora – black mountain. It is savagely mountainous country, the type of terrain where the mountain drops directly into the water. The road to the border on the Croatian side is smooth and the landscape is dotted with cypress pines. We cross the border without incident and in record time – the guide says yesterday’s crossing took two hours – and the road becomes rougher and the pine trees disappear.
The bay of Kotor is very large. The largest in the something or other statistic which I cannot remember now. Let’s just say that if you were to drive around it without stopping you would need two to three hours. And it is very scenic, blue water, with small and large towns every few kilometres. We made several stops en route, the first out to an island at Plesac, the site of a small church.
At Kotor itself, we had a local city guide. She was extremely enthusiastic about the city, waving her hands expressively and stressing and repeating words in her commentary, such as “glorious maritime history”. It came as no surprise to learn she is a music teacher. She persuaded us to climb up towards yet another city fortress – I swear I may never climb another stair in my life after this tour.
Things are starting to swim together, as I cannot remember the name of the next town at which we stopped, * but it was here we had another lunch by the water, and then a stroll through the old town. All around the water’s edge were rich boy’s toys – luxury yachts and cruisers of all sizes. The type of boat that would need a crew and some significant amount of millions to own. Any preconception that Montenegro was a backwater was destroyed in that moment. It is in fact, another holiday Mecca, (and we saw plenty of Russians around about).
We took a shortcut on the drive back by taking a barge across the bay, and at the border crossing we were again processed within fifteen minutes. Our driver thinks we are good luck people, and can we come with him every day.
So we were home earlier than expected, but all the same it was more than a ten hour day. There was a lot of nodding off on the bus home.
* Jay to the rescue – it was called Budva.
Friday 28th June 2013 Garrulous Gwendoline, Dubrovnik ( via Montenegro)