Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Category: Montenegro

Sveti Stefan & Skadar

Departure. Rising before the sun. The clocks sprang ahead an hour overnight and at 6:00 am, all is quiet. I sneak away as the seven bells chime. No one is out, but me. One last breath of the bay, and I’m off. The winding, coastal roads are exclusively mine. Flying free, me & the local radio.

I’m early, so there’s time to see. First, Sveti Stefan, playground of the rich & famous, nestled in the sea. Then, to the roads again, the turn from the coast to the mountains. The roads are even windier, narrower, steeper, slower. There’s a dense fog. I’m gripping the wheel until, finally, there’s a second spot to pause at blue-grey Skadar. It’s all so quiet and still.

And then, suddenly, I’ve arrived at the airport. The 1.5 hour drive is over. It’s all over, and I’m sad to go. 

This trip terrified me at the start and for no logical reason. Anxiety, fear. I ignored it and went anyways – and I’ll never be the same person again. 

Budva & Jaz

I read that Budva is known as the “Cancun of the Balkans,” that it’s impossible to get a chair at Jaz Beach in the summer. Maybe those facts are true; I didn’t experience those parts of town. 

For all that I had heard of Jaz’ energy, it was pleasantly deserted, abandoned even, in the March offseason. I sat by myself with my feet in the Adriatic and face in the sun. 

Then, Budva, party city, but daytime. Mini skyscrapers and yachts dotting the waterfront. I was more interested in the Old Town, and that’s where I wandered until I found myself at the top of the Citadel.

It was so nice to see the sea that way. 

 

Perast

Perast, blues & breeze. I woke up intending on taking a cab or a bus to this little town, which is more of a strip of harbor than a town proper. I was afraid to lose my parking spot and a bit nervous of returning to those windy, mountain Montenegrin roads. But then I saw my server from the restaurant the night before in town, and he convinced me to drive. I’m so glad I listened.

Driving, between the mountains and the sea, along the edge of the bay in a completely foreign place, sea breeze in my hair and a language on the radio that I couldn’t understand; it was one of those experiences when you remember that you’re alive. 

And then I was alone in the town, so quiet, vivid, and bright. 

Bay of Kotor


Cats and palms by the sea. A sunset obscured by the mountains and the bluest, blue sea.
I left Old Town in the evening to walk along a seaside path that I had run earlier in the morning. I wanted to take pictures, and I found myself sitting on the beach, toes in the bay, looking up to the sky, to the top of the hills, to the fortress that I had hiked earlier that day. I was alone, and there was a sensation of just how far I had come.

Old Town Kotor

Wandering, Old Town. Kotor is just charming. Stone buildings, green shutters, palm trees, cats, a winding maze of alleyways bursting open into lively squares, all set against a backdrop of rolling hills and the sea. I could roam for hours with my camera, entering the shops, striking conversation.

I buy things that I don’t need from the shopkeeper who feeds the cats to support her. I walk through the open doors of a church, enticed by the potency of the incense that can be sensed from across the square. And at the end of the day, I dine in St. Tryphon Square at a place called Dekaderon and have the best seafood (Lignje Montenegro), the best banana cake, and the best, most unique wine I’ve ever had. My server says it’s simply made by a friend of the restaurant, locally. It’s so interesting – not sweet, but not dry. Light and vast, as the city itself.

Fortress of Kotor

Ascending, 1,355 steps. Beautiful and breathtaking. It’s hot in the sun, and my calves are – literally – quivering at the end.

Where to begin? What an adventure. A day of spectacular views, of conversation, new friends, and pushing myself to explore. I met three American MBA students hiking; they were so friendly, even offered to take photos for me. Later, I met a shopkeeper, who showed me the cats in the back of her store and shared details of the town and it’s history. There was a couple swimming at the beach that I spoke with in the evening. Usually, when I travel alone, I avoid strangers, I’m overly cautious. But today, I made friends. I interacted. I made interactions. And those interactions, however brief and insignificant, reminded me how interconnected the world is, we all are.

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