Montenegro! Very nice! Weather, very bad! But People, so nice!

The bus driver slammed on the brakes, causing me to crash into the handrail I was using to steady myself. “Thank you! Bus Station!”

We were regurgitated from the Dubrovnik city bus and into the dreary station, where ruddy-faced city folk roamed like the stray cats we’d seen all over the city. Taxi? a few whispered as we passed by with our suitcases. Hotel? I approached the dirty ticket window and asked for two one-ways to Herceg Novi, Montenegro, an hour south of the Pearl of the Adriatic. After two glowing days in the city and a big life decision, I would be stepping foot in my thirtieth country.

Hayley and I settled into the plastic benches inside the station, watching the rain come down. Fifteen minutes ticked by past our sheduled departure time. Then another fifteen. Buses headed to Zagreb or Mostar rumbled in and out, but nothing marked HERCEG NOVI or any other destination rolled by.

Ninety minutes after we expected to, we had passed two border controls and entered Crna Gora. The highway snakes between a series of mountains, finally dumping us out in the seaside village of Igalo on the Bay of Kotor. Low, dark clouds rolled in over the wide mouth of the famous bay, which looks like two butterfly bandages stuck together.

It was odd to remember that Montenegro was born in the same year as kiddies I taught in first grade last year, that’s it’s been centuries since they’ve had their own money, that for years they were the little sister to Serbia after the Yugoslav conflict. I braced myself for bullet holes in buildings, or war cries painted on cracked and crumbling drywall. Montenegro looked the same as Dubrovnik, just with half of the signs written in Cyrillic, a homage to the city’s tumultuous past.

Dovar met us across the street from the bus station. It’s apparently really easy to spot two bewildered American girls in a country that a cell phone claims is Serbia and things are written in cyrillic and the Roman alphabet. Our car was upgraded to an automatic, snow chains came included and we were a mere 200 meters from our rental apartment. Stana great us with open arms, enveloping us into a big hug.

“Montenegro! Very nice! Weather, very bad. Ok. We come, girls.”

She made us hot drinks, showing us around the apartment and a few scattered and torn maps of the area. Once we’d satisfied our internet vice, we set out in hopes of finding a place to eat. Stana didn’t understand our requests for food, instead offering us up a few wrinkled oranges she’d cultivated from her garden.

The rain started pouring the moment we got into the car. Unaware of how to get to the historic part of town, we drove away from the apartment and followed the narrow, winding roads until Hayley spotted a red, white and green awning. “Ah! Italian! Stop the car!”

We stopped and I immediately regretted putting my umbrella in the trunk, especially after our two gorgeous days walking the walls in Dubrovnik and drinking beers at cliffside bars. The street had turned into a landslide, a waterfall, and the Italian restaurant was actually a shoe store. Montenegro has become a popular getaway for the jet set, but we were at the end of March.

The historic center, which spills down a hill right into the Bay of Kotor, was a ghost town. The only open establishment was Portofino, easily the priciest restaurant in town during the low season. As it turned out, the hail had shut off the power in the entire historic center, and we were offered  a limited menu: Caesar Salad or Caesar Salad, to be eaten by candlelight.

At least the beer was still cold.

As we asked for the bill, the waitress told us in broken English that we’d been invited to a drink by the group of men sitting near the door. We’d observed the four townies throwing back shots of the national spirit, Rakia. They raised our glasses to us, and we did the same to them.

I think I’m going to like Montenegro, I thought to myself, crap weather or not.

Have you ever been to Montenegro? What did you like about the country, or not?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. Nice storytelling! Would love to visit there one day. Look forward to seeing more of the pics!
    Lauren H. of Sobremesa In Spain recently posted..Hump Day: Jamón Carrasco, Iberian Hams from Guijuelo, SpainMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Thanks, dear! Am publishing another post on Tuesday about our road trip around the bay. Looooads of photos!

  2. Oh Stana, what a beautiful lady inside and out. And I had forgotten about the free beer from the drunkies who wanted you to take a picture of them!

  3. I had spectacular sunny (read: hot) August weather, but I just adored Kotor and Budva, both! I much preferred them to Croatia, in fact. Have a blast!
    Alex @ ifs ands & butts recently posted..the fairy tale castle.My Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’ve been to a few places in Croatia, and each experience was so different. I can imagine just how great Montenegro is in the summer!

  4. I love the start of your adventure, sounds ominous but promising, hope to visit there around October, but maybe it will be too cold then?
    noel recently posted..Barcelona panoramic views – a photo journeyMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I think October would be a great time – end of the tourist season but still warm enough. It all depends on what you want to do, too. I’m posting about driving the Bay of Kotor on Thursday, so look for it!

  5. You really capture the place. I’m curious to read more and look forward to Tuesday : )
    Lauren @ roamingtheworld recently posted..Flashback Photo Friday: Dangers of driving solo in NamibiaMy Profile

  6. Have never been to Montenegro but I’ve heard a lot of interesting things about the country. Sorry to hear about the bad weather :(
    jill recently posted..El Hoyo – This Crazy Gringa Climbs A VolcanoMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      It was definitely a strange place – trying to assert its independence but with the need for a lot of support from its neighbors – they once used the deutch mark when they couldn’t afford to make their own currency! We had a great trip, so I’d recommend it.

  7. So happy (and jealous) that you got to Montenegro. It is definitely on my “want to see” list. So what did the Rakia taste like?
    Linda Bibb recently posted..An Open Letter to SpammersMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      You can get there! Hope you’ve had a pleasant time back home, despite the circumstances.

      And no Rakia!! We took it easy!

  8. We were in Dubrovnik a couple of weeks ago and had dodgy weather too – it was so bad one day, we had to buy those rain ponchos you see at Niagara Falls! We had time for one daytrip, and chose Mostar over Montenegro, but would love to get there one day.
    Richard recently posted..Dubrovnik: Boozing at BužaMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Our weather was incredible in Dubrovnik, so then heading to Montenegro was a bit disappointing. Still, going before the high season definitely had its advantages with price and crowds! I’ve heard Mostar is a great place to go – next trip! Thanks for stopping by, Richard!

  9. Even with the inconveniences, Montenegro sounds like a very welcoming place. I can’t wait to visit…it’s been added to our ‘future’ list. Hopefully, the not too distant future :-)
    Gayla recently posted..What to see in Siena – Il Duomo di SienaMy Profile

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  1. […] first day was spent hiding in bars and napping while the rain poured, providing a gloomy backdrop against the dark, jagged skyline of mountains that protected the bay. […]

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