Oh, Montenegro…

IMG_1089“Ooooh, Montenegro- I never really been but I’d sure like to go…”

This is me, to Patrick, at least several times a day during our Croatian week after we decided to spend a day of our time slipping over the border to Montenegro because, well, neither of us had been and it seemed a good excuse to get a new country under our belts.  Except the problem for Patrick was he is cursed blessed with a sister who likes to sing songs based on places she’s traveling to, even if no such song exists so one has to modify a James Taylor one about Mexico.  And thinks knowing all the words to the song is overrated, so she bursts out with random snippets at random times.

“Ooooh, Montenegro- it sounds so simple I just got to go…”

At 7am we pile bleary-eyed into a minivan in Dubrovnik and head towards the third-youngest country in the world, which has only been a country since 2006.  The former Yugoslavia is interesting in that what used to one country is now seven, and each has a border crossing in place which just plain never existed until recent history.  This is particularly problematic on the coast during high tourist season, where the line can stretch for kilometers and a crossing can take hours, but our local guide and driver take us on a winding road to a tiny local border crossing instead.  No one is there save the bored-looking guards- we are waved through without anyone checking our passports.IMG_1069

For such a small country, Montenegro has a disproportionate amount of beauty in it: we spend the day around the Bay of Kotor, a giant fjord which takes well over an hour to drive around but has a ferry at its most narrow point to dramatically cut down on travel time.  Someday there will surely be a bridge built here instead (when the European Union sends a donation), though many of the tourists wish that would happen sooner instead of later after seeing typical ferry operations in this part of the world-IMG_1096

Our favorite place here is the town of Kotor itself- much of the Montenegran coast is dominated by neuveau riche Russians and the development that entails, but Kotor is a lovely old Venitian trading center with forts and fortifications running into the surrounding mountains which protected it from the Ottomans (who impressively never took it over).  We wander through narrow alleys between squares named things like Flower Square and Weapons Square after what was sold there long ago, and ponder how had they kept up with this convention the squares would be now called things like iPhone Square and Souvenirs Made in China Square.  It’s probably best the place is under UNESCO protection and they can’t actually do this.IMG_1074

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Someday, I think, it would be very nice to return to Kotor and climb around the fortifications on the hillsides at leisure.  Followed by a lot of time at this store, where I could clearly spend an entire vacation-IMG_1080

“Oooooh, down in Montenegro- it sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low…”

After a day of wandering and my insistence of doing the two things want to do in every country to prove I’ve been (have a local beer, and find a geocache), we pile back into the minivan for the return to Dubrovnik.  We are once again waved through without questions at the forlorn border crossing, and Patrick and I enjoy one last dinner of wine and fresh seafood in Croatia.  Tomorrow I will fly back to Amsterdam and Patrick will fly to the USA a week later- not to get away from his sister’s singing but rather because he will start a new job there in a few weeks.  So while our next adventure together will have to wait a while, we are glad we found a great way to end this one.

“I guess I have to go now…”IMG_1093

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