Montenegro. What can I say? Definitely one of my favorite countries in the Balkan region. Today it is known as the new French Riviera of the Balkans, with the beaches of the Budva area and Sveti Stefan as the most popular ones probably. Or the cruise ships that visit the bay of Kotor. As apposed to a couple of years ago, it isn’t known as the cheapest country anymore. Luckily, there are still times and places you can visit the country in a cheap and authentic way.
The first time I visited Montenegro was in 2011 on a roadtrip with friends. Most of our time here we spent at the bay of Kotor (which is gorgeous by the way!) and trying to reach Budva and Sveti Stefan. Both places we failed to visit due to the fact that these places were quite crowded and very expensive.
Still I wanted to see the old town of Budva, so we went there last year and the old part is quite nice. I am not really a beach person, so I didn’t care much for that part of town. Also the road from Budva to Sveti Stefan is very nice. Still, it was very crowded that time of year (summer). The second half of the Montenegro trip we spent in an eco village in the mountains, which was a nice change from the crowdedness.
When I was making a museum tour through Albania last october (Tirana, Kruja, Durres and Shkoder), I thought it would be nice to visit Ulcinj as well. It’s close to Shkoder, so I took the bus after I visited the Etnographic museum in the city. When looking on the internet for hostels I found one in Ulcinj, but I thought the people there were a bit strange and it also happened to be in the new part of town, which wasn’t that interesting. In the evening I decided to take a walk through the citadel. How different was this Montenegro experience from my times there before! The weather was nice (20 degrees) instead of almost unbearably hot, not a lot of people this time of year, everything was a bit cheaper (because there were not a lot of tourists anyway) and people in the citadel were very nice (outside the citadel not so much though).
So, the next morning I packed my stuff and went into the citadel to find something else. The room I had looked more like a wardrobe, didn’t even had any windows and I had to shower over the toilet. I thought it would be nice to find a cozy homestay room with sea view if possible, so off I went. I knocked on some doors of houses closest to the sea when walking around, but nobody opened the door. I guess that’s the downside of traveling off season. People don’t expect tourists anymore. Finally I moved to the upper part of the citadel and knocked on the door of a house standing in the middle of other houses. The door opened and a nice lady came out. She couldn’t speak any english, but her husband could and told me they had a bedroom for rent. I didn’t expect too much of it and the bedroom was basic, but good. When I entered the room I saw it: Sea view! Mission accomplished. Later he even showed me a big roof terrace I could use. And guess what? Sea view. That’s the good stuff.
Ulcinj is known for its pirate history, so my inner child went wild for the pirate stories I found on the internet. It was also the main reason I came to the town. Unfortunenately not much of this history to be found in the city itself, except for using your own imagination, I guess. The citadel itself is small (much smaller than Kotor or Budva), but still big enough to get wonderfully lost in. Just outside the citadel you can find a beautiful graveyard with sea view. Somehow people get obsessed with sea view in this town. What is that?
The food was great, the wine greater and the views over the sea were amazing. I love to get lost in small towns like this on my own. The nice part of traveling alone is that you really can get in contact with the locals. The last night I had to spent with my hosts who of course, had put the table full of food and drinks. Most people who live there a of Albanian descent, so a lot of things felt really familiar.
Yes, it was a very good day spent. (:
Stari Grad Bar
A couple of weeks later I left Albania (for this year) to slow travel back home through Montenegro, Serbia and Romania. I wanted to take the night train from Podgorica to Belgrade. But when I arrived in Shkoder in the north of Albania, I figured out that there really was no bus leaving to the capital of Montenegro. Secretly I knew this already, but I wanted to try anyway. After a couple of attempts from taxidrivers to rip me off when I was asking for routes, I decided to take a bus to Bar. This city lies just above Ulcinj and as far as I knew the city wasn’t very pretty. But as the night train left there at 5 o’c lock in the afternoon and I had still lots of time to get there, I went there instead.
After a stop over for 2 hours at Ulcinj bus station (nothing to do there, luckily I met an Australian girl to chat with) I took the bus to Bar. It was only 30 minutes from Ulcinj, so I still had 4 hours before the train left. What to do? When traveling alone as a woman you always get some attention in these areas. Not so much when you know where you are going (then you can just put up your bitchface and act like you are a local, so you won’t get bothered that much), but when you look just slightly puzzeled you can expect some attention from local men. Mostly in the form of taxi drivers, by the way. Or just men with a car who offer you rides (for 50 euro’s. Ha! Don’t think so).
This time was no different. Lucky for me, this taxi driver did look genuinely interested to help me out. He offered me a cheap ride to Stari Grad Bar and back to the train station again. He would drop me off and would pick me up after two hours. Somehow he felt trustworthy, in spite of the fact that I didn’t really had a clue where he was going to take me. The only thing I knew was that Stari Grad ment Old Town in their language, but I had not heard of it. Sometimes you just have to be adventurous and go where somebody is taking you, so he brought me to Stari Grad up in the mountains. I ended up in Lord Of The Rings. That was a nice suprise.
What I thought of these destinations? This picture show it well.