Reunited with Kotor!

Walking the city wall in Kotor 5
Ever since I visited Kotor briefly many years ago, I have wanted to go back to experience more of this ancient fortified city.

With the city walls crawling up the hillside behind the houses, I decided I had to climb it. And watch the view, of course.

But first things first; parking and finding a place to stay for the night. We parked the car on a big monitored parking lot just outside the city walls. Leaving the luggage in the car, we could easily search for a nice place to sleep. We ended up with a two-bedroom apartment with double beds at D&Sons Apartments, right inside the wall.

Time for some speed sightseeing before heading off to climb the wall. The city was as beautiful as I remembered, and since we were there a bit late in the afternoon, and outside the main tourist season, we also escaped the tourist crowds.

The entrance to the city wall was close by the apartment. The fee is 3 Euro and include a leaflet with some information. Climbing upwards, gave me the urge to stop many times along the way, as the photo opportunities were constant!

While looking for a place to have dinner, we stumbled upon a concert in the church of St. Nicolas. The atmosphere was magic, and the music just marvelous!

Having a nightcap at the vine bar just across the street from D&Sons Apartments was a perfect end of the evening!
Kotor 1
Kotor 2
Kotor 3
Kotor 4
Kotor 5
Kotor 6
Kotor 7
Kotor 8
Kotor 9
Kotor 10
Kotor 15
Kotor 14
Mmm, lamb!
The way to the city wall walk
Walking the city wall in Kotor
Walking the city wall in Kotor 2
Walking the city wall in Kotor 3
Walking the city wall in Kotor 4
Walking the city wall in Kotor 6
Kotor panorama
Walking the city wall in Kotor 7
Walking the city wall in Kotor 9
Walking the city wall in Kotor 10
Walking the city wall in Kotor 13
Walking the city wall in Kotor 11
Walking the city wall in Kotor 12

Kotor by night 3
Kotor by night 2
Church concert

View other posts from Montenegro or the road trip through Balkan!

Sveti Stefan – the «forbidden» island

View of Sveti Stefan

View of Sveti Stefan

I have seen many pictures and driven passed earlier myself, and always wanted to get closer and experience the beautiful scenic island of Sveti Stefan. I bet you have done the same! But I will kill your hopes right away; you are not allowed to enter unless you are staying at the hotel that has taken over the entire village.

So this is basically what you have to settle for…

Sveti Stefan up close, but not close enough...

Sveti Stefan up close, but not close enough…

Stari Bar, the pleasant surprise

Bar was never a part of our planned route. But again, that is the beauty of being on a road trip; having the freedom to do whatever you feel like just then an there. This was one of those moments. Seeing the signs directing to the old town of Bar, we looked at each other. Without a word, we both said “why not”, and I drove off in that direction.
Stari Bar
The first thing that met us was a small market, selling groceries and some other things. Walking through the main street, the locals were sitting outside, enjoying a coffee or a beer. Continuing up towards the entrance to the fortified city, we passed a few small restaurant. If we would have had the time, we would definitely sit down, after having difficulties deciding which one to choose.

Unfortunately, our time was running out, and we had to prioritize.

To get within the city walls, we had to pay two Euro each. An earthquake heavily destroyed much of the city in 1979 and even the thick city wall was split. Walking around gave an impression of the nice community that once was there, and we were definitely glad we did the detour! Yet another reason to visit Montenegro!

I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Street life in Stari Bar.

Street life in Stari Bar.

Many nice cafes and restaurants.

Many nice cafes and restaurants.

Old church in Stari Bar. If you wish to look around inside the supervisor will open for you.

Old church in Stari Bar. If you wish to look around inside the supervisor will open for you.

Old paintings on the ruined wall .

Old paintings on the ruined wall .

Stari Bar 2
Stari Bar 3
Stari Bar 4
Stari Bar 5
Stari Bar 6
Stari Bar 7

Wall in Stari Bar ruined by the earthquake in 1979.

Wall in Stari Bar ruined by the earthquake in 1979.

Stari Bar 8
Stari Bar 9
Stari Bar 10
Stari Bar 11

Ulcinj

Sitting on the terrace with perfect view of the old town, listening to the waves breaking at the beach, makes me forget about the sleepy town below.

Ulcinj by night

Ulcinj by night

I have been to Ulcinj for a very short stop two years ago on my way from Croatia to Albania. Even though it was in August, and both the beach and town was packed with people, something in me wanted to come back to explore.

Ulcinj city beach and the old town up on the hill.

Ulcinj city beach and the old town up on the hill.

This time I came outside the tourist season. And it shows. Most of the restaurants are either closed or empty, and there are almost no people around. Sitting on the terrace of one of the restaurants in the old town, overlooking the bay, all alone, gave the first hint. During high season, you would have to struggle to get that spot.

At first sight the old town seemed mainly to be restaurants, but walking passed them, you will get to the residential area. Most of the houses were either destroyed or damaged during the earthquake in 1971, but are nicely restored with stonewalls and cobbled streets.

Ulcinj old town

Ulcinj old town

Ulcinj old town3
Ulcinj old town2

By all means, I am really not a fan of overcrowded places, but at least some other people would be nice. But again; sitting on the terrace with perfect view of the old town, listening to the waves breaking at the beach, makes me forget about the sleepy town below.

Where to stay: Up on the hillside behind the city beach. There are several options for small private accommodations near the monument. Make sure you get one with view to the beach and the old town.

Terrace view

Terrace view

Ulcinj monument

Ulcinj monument

View other posts from Montenegro or the road trip through Balkan!

Where did the winter come from!?

Waking up to winter wonderland was not really what I expected when arriving yesterday with 9 degrees Celsius and sun! But, that was the reality. And we had to deal with it.

Nice and sunny yesterday

Nice and sunny yesterday

This morning it was winter wonderland!

A few hours later it was winter wonderland!

With about 30 cm snow in just a few hours, and the snow still not willing to stop, we figured we should get going as soon as possible. Driving our self with summer tires was definitely not an option, so we had to make a plan B. That was to get a tow truck to drive us (and of course the car) down from the high altitude to where the snow turned to rain.

Tow truck getting us safe down from Žabljak in the mountains

Tow truck getting us safe down from Žabljak in the mountains

Our host helped us arrange this and about an hour later we were on the road again. We soon discovered that not everybody had taken precautions, and we ran into a car that had shifted sideways and smashed into the front of a bus. Luckily, nobody got hurt.

Bridge over Tara Canyon

Bridge over Tara Canyon

But, again the road lead upwards towards snowy altitude, and as we were not willing to take any chances, we stopped and some really nice locals called for a tow truck again. While we waited, we acted as “road help”, assisting others that were stuck in the snow by pushing them onward. I lost count of how many, but at least we got some exercise.

Tom and me aka Road assistance

Tom and me aka Road assistance

Tow truck two. Better safe than sorry!

Tow truck two. Better safe than sorry!

Bottom line; be prepared for the unexpected!

Moving on from the riverside to mountain landscape

From Rijeka Crnojevića via Podgorica and Ostrog Monastery to Žabljak.

Since we arrived after dark yesterday, we had a quick walk around in the village before moving on. As I mentioned most of the houses are quite worn down and everything seems closed, but looking through an open door, proved that wrong. Even though the windows were covered, there were many people in the small café.
Old Bridge
Old bridge and old houses
Riverbank
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Rijeka Crnojevića
The river leading to lake Shkodra winds through the green landscape, creating a stunning scenery. The locals offer trips by boat on the lake, but make sure to see it from above as well. About 3 km on the road towards Podgorica there is a great viewpoint.

River to Shkodra Lake

River to Shkodra Lake

As we were passing Podgorica anyway, we figured we might as well stop there for lunch. Being used to driving on small roads in the countryside, the city seemed very chaotic. We found a place to park and went for lunch in one of the squares, enjoying the sun and the view of the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in the distance.

Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ

Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ

Taking off from the main road between Podgorica and Nikšić just passed Danilovgrad, will get you on the road leading to Ostrog Monastery. Arriving at the lower part, turn right and continue the steep winding road upwards. There are a few parking lots along the way, but we were able to drive all the way to the upper monastery.

The monastery is magnificently built into a cave in the mountains about 900 meters above the Zeta Valley. The white building is a big contrast to the reddish-brown mountain, and can be seen from far away.
Ostrog Monastery
Ostrog Monastery2
There was a major restoration going on, and a lot of the complex sadly appeared as quite new, despite the fact that it was originally built in the 17th century. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely still a stunning place, and well worth the visit! One of the rooms was still kept more original, with beautiful religiously painted frescoes that made a great impression.

Some cows hanging around

Some cows hanging around

Driving through beautiful green landscape with deep canyons on one side, and steep mountains on the other, we reached Žabljak. The small mountain town about 1450 meters above sea level is a popular skiing destination during winter. Now it was nice and green, with the snow covered mountains of Durmitor in the background.

Šepić Accommodation is a nice apartment in a private house, and the family offer to cook traditional food. We had booked the dinner in advance, so it was already prepared when we arrived. The portions were huge, and even though it tasted great, we had no chance to finish it all! Sitting in the sofa afterwards having tea and talking to the hosts, the cake was also brought out. Good thing there is always room for desert…

Ljiljanas fantastic home made dinner in Žabljak

Ljiljanas fantastic home made dinner in Žabljak

Driving from Dubrovnik to Rijeka Crnojevića

One of the advantages by having a car is that you can make as many detours as you want along the way. On the drive towards the border to Montenegro we saw several signs leading to Sokol Grad, so we decided to have a look. Most of the small fortress that still stands today dates back to year 1420, but there is evidence of settlement in the area all the way back to the Copper age. A nice place to stop by if you are not in a rush. It also allows you to drive the smaller roads instead of the main road, driving passed small local communities. Do not drive back the same way you arrived, but continue onward and you will get to the main road just next to the border.

Driving a bit off the beaten track

Driving a bit off the beaten track

The border crossing was very quick, but I have earlier experienced several hours waiting time. That was in the high season though, but you never know.

Driving around Kotor Bay is well worth the detour, instead of taking the shortcut across by ferry. The scenery is beautiful, with the blue water and the high rising mountains with small villages along the seaside. In the bay there are also two small islands, one of them being artificial. Legend has it that the island called Our Lady of the Rocks and the church with the same name was made after finding an icon of Madonna and the child at this spot.

Kotor Bay with Our Lady of the Rocks

Kotor Bay with Our Lady of the Rocks

We just passed Kotor this time, as we will be coming back later on our trip. Continuing towards the old capital Cetinje, we drove the serpentine mountain road, going continuously upward offering a beautiful view of the bay and Kotor. The road is not very well marked, and our GPS wanted us to drive the highway, so we were glad we had road maps as well.

View of Kotor and the bay

View of Kotor and the bay

In Cetinje we only stopped for a quick stroll around the city, with some nice colorful houses. If you are passing by it is worth stopping, but not a must see.

Cetinje walking street

Cetinje walking street

Our last destination for the day was Rijeka Crnojevića. Again, the GPS could not find it, but we drove towards Podgorica and found a road sign leading to a narrow road down towards the small village by the river. Most houses are relatively worn down and it is quite clear that former days of glory are passed, but it still has a very charming appearance. However, some of the houses along the riverbank has recently been restored. The lovely old bridge across the river is the symbol of the village, and one of the most important historical monuments in the area.

Old bridge in Rijeka Crnojevića

Old bridge in Rijeka Crnojevića

As we had not booked any place to stay, we just asked in the bar right next to the bridge. They knew someone that rented out a double room. There are also a few other alternatives, such as Vila Oktoih. This is also the only place in the village that offer wireless internet.

There are a few restaurants along the river, and Stari Most is supposed to be one of the better restaurants in Montenegro. As we were there a bit out of season, the kitchen was about to close when we arrived just before 20.00. We ordered a tasty fish soup for starter, and the restaurant’s specialty, smoked carp, as main dish. This was served with boiled potatoes and a few pieces of vegetables. The fish was rather salty, and honestly, we expected a bit more.

Stari Most restaurant

Stari Most restaurant

After dinner we went to the bar/restaurant that organized our accommodation and had a few beers. They were also about to close soon, but allowed us to stay while they prepared for the next day. Sitting in the window with glorious view of the magnificent illuminated bridge and locals hanging out making conversation by the other table, really made a great ending of a nice day!

Enjoying a beer with nice view of the old bridge

Enjoying a beer with nice view of the old bridge