My coffee mug tells me to say yes to new adventures, so when the chance to visit Montenegro came my way, I jumped at the chance. Country number 10 already, I cannot believe it! I’m such a lucky dinosaur visiting so many countries in a short time, more than many humans will ever be able to visit.
My last day trip to Bosnia was so much fun, I chose to do another one. This adventure was with Gulliver Travel on a bigger coach. I was off to explore Montenegro, which was once part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but has been a small independent nation since 2006. Little did I know, my hotel was only 20 minutes from the border crossing into Montenegro.
Sadly, it took quite a while to cross the border because it is the final one in the EU. I don’t mind though because it keeps all of the humans safe, given the recent migrant crisis. The worst part was not getting a passport stamp, but it’s a great reason to go back in the future. It may have taken two hours to get across to Montenegro, due to the number of tour buses, but I have to say it is one of the most beautiful border crossings I have visited. As it is in a mountain pass, it allows you to look down the valley to Herceg Novi and the Bay of Kotor (Sadly no photos allowed).
The guide had free bottles of water for everyone, but decided on a coffee stop before heading to our first destination. Stopping at Novi Mall, which I initially thought would be an expensive service station, turned out to to be a clean and modern shopping mall. Perla Gastronomy Art is upstairs and a great place for a coffee.
3 things I didn’t realise about Montenegro:
- The euro is used but Montenegro is not in the EU, so it is very cheap. 1.20 for a large cappuccino.
- Smoking indoors is allowed.
- English is not as widely spoken as it is in neighboring Croatia.
Back on the bus it was time to head down the E65 to Perast. I had sat on the wrong side of the bus for the views of the water, so instead I spent the hour long drive trying to read the Cyrillic signs and looking for old cars. I also passed through a village named Strp, I think it is the hardest name to pronounce ever! (can you say it?).
The guide pointed out 2 islands in the middle of the bay, informing us that we would be visiting the larger one, Our Lady of the Rocks. I might have confused it with a certain famous painting, Madonna of the Rocks. Successfully embarrassing my photographer when I asked if Leonardo da Vinci lived there (face palm). Perast turned out to be a really beautiful place but sadly due to time constraints I went directly from the bus to the boat. This time I was only visiting Perast’s two famous landmarks, both peculiarly picturesque islands with equally peculiar histories. This was the best surprise, I should have guessed when the guide said about visiting the island.
It made me sad to see one lady on the trip couldn’t go on the boat because she struggled with climbing steps, especially on a moving boat. I chose to have extra fun for her, but she did get to sit in a beautiful waterside cafe (I would have happily done that too!). It was hard getting on the boat, but worth it for the short but beautiful 5 minute ride to the island.
Passing the Sveti Đorđe Island, which is a natural island containing the Benedictine monastry of Saint George, I wasn’t able to visit as it is privately owned by the catholic church. So we sailed around it in a big circle on the way to Gospa od Škrpjela (Our lady of the Rocks). The island is quite small, with the church and museum and a lighthouse on the other. I was able to walk around it in about 10 minutes. There is an alluring beauty of the surrounding views. I could have admired the views for hours, but we were able to go into the church rather quickly, being the only English speaking group on the island.
Inside the church strangely had no soul, but it was decorated beautifully with many paintings by Tripo Kokolja. The church has been on the island since 1722, housing more than 2500 votive silver tablets showing tales of the threats sailors encountered on their travels. I love how a legend started in 1452 is still alive today, there is even a bright blue stone from a cruise liner. Upstairs there are many beautiful maritime themed paintings, however, since visiting the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit I have a love for simple pencil drawings. These may only be practices for a painting elsewhere, but I think they are beautiful.
The window looking out from the church creates a beautiful scene of Perast, the commanding cliffs and sparkling straits. If you only visit one place in Europe, the Bay of Kotor is simply unmissable.
Heading back to Perast on the boat, I couldn’t help notice the similarities with Venice. The medieval town perched next to the peacock blue water, surrounded by boats was rather melancholy. 16 churches, 17 former grand palazzi and several ruins which have been reclaimed by wild bougainvillea and fig trees. It seemed like a town which time had forgotten yet was steeped in history, I would have loved to spend more time here.
Driving past Perast’s one main street, we had soon left the picturesque corner of Montenegro behind and it was time to visit and even more famous Montenegrin town.
Just as if I have returned to town from the most beautiful fairy tale of my childhood.Sophia Loren
I cannot find a better way to describe Montenegro, it is a small jewel in a beautiful region of the Balkans. One day is no where near enough, I could have happily stayed for a few weeks, exploring more of the beautiful coastline and mountains. I can safely say I am adding more places in the Balkans to my Bucket List. I had such a jam packed day on this tour with Gulliver Travel , I have separated it into two posts! Stay tuned to see where I went next.
For a daily dose of dinosaur, feel free to visit my Instagram Vegan0saurus