I had heard that Montenegro was incredibly beautiful. Even though I was prepared for a gorgeous drive, it is still is surprising to see this out the bus window:
I mean, heck, road trips to me have been to California through the not-so-lovely desert.
After the bus ride, we ended up in Podgorica, Montenegro. A city that is mainly meant for business. There isn’t really anything to see in the city. Fortunately, Pete had a contact through a man who was in Hungary on a couple mission at the same time. This contact was a German man named Hasko who was in Montenegro to help the policing system there. Montenegro is hoping to become part of the EU, so the country is making steps to rid corruption and start systems that are accepted by the EU. Hasko was hired by the EU to help with the corruption. We met Hasko and his assistant, Andrea (23 year old from Montenegro), at Hasko’s office. Because there isn’t much tourism here, hotels are pricey. Hasko was generous enough to let us stay at his apartment. This was just one of the many things that Hasko helped with; I can’t believe how kind and generous he was to strangers!
Pete and I had such a great time with Hasko and Andrea. Hasko drove us to Lake Shkodor. What a beautiful lake! I’ve never seen a lake where the mountains popped out of the lake so dramatically. It was also so peaceful to hear the wildlife, rather than the rushing city life that we’ve been surrounded in so much of the time.
This is a rare orchid that Hasko spotted. It is protected in Germany. It takes the form of an insect to entice other insects to visit and then spread the pollen. It also smelled very good!
I feel pretty short in this pic with Pete and Hasko on either side. Ha.
The next day, Hasko drove us down (along with Andrea) to the coast of Montenegro, to the bay of Kotor. I told you they are so generous! I loved having conversations with them. If you think about it, Pete and I have been together 24 hours a day for the last two and a half weeks, and we haven’t really had any genuine conversations with anyone else. It was refreshing to be able to talk about Hasko’s past jobs working in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Andrea is also a blast to talk to. She is very educated and offers a wonderful perspective on Montenegro’s past and present.
While driving down to Kotor, we stopped in a tiny village to get some smoked ham. Holy cow, what great ham it is! We got a half kilo. The smokehouse looked like an ordinary home from the outside; you’d never know it was a smokehouse. The couple who helped us was so sweet. These pictures are all a bit blurry because I didn’t want to blind everyone with a flash. Plus, I never like how things look when taken with a flash; I’d rather it be blurry.
Here he is explaining what types of meat are hanging and whatnot.
Then we drove and drove on such a windy, beautiful road. We saw scenes like this (the bay of Kotor from above):
We made it into the city, found a sweet apartment (internet, private bathroom, washing machine!) for two nights. We are staying in the old town. One thing I’ve noticed about this area of the world is that every city seems to have an old city where the fortress is and people from way back when lived only inside the fortress walls. The U.S. just doesn’t have that kind of history.
Some views from the balcony of our apartment/hotel room:
For the first afternoon here, we went out to the bay and read, relaxed, and enjoyed the view. Pete took some photos with his nice camera, so hopefully he’ll post those eventually. I’ve found that I’ve still been able to get some good images with a point and shoot, though!
After Kotor, we went to a nearby city on the beach called Budva. We ended up at a really cool hostel where there were people from Australia, England, Italy, Mexico, and Serbia. We did a bbq with them one night (we grilled pineapple and only the Mexican girl had heard of that). The English owner made Indian curry the next day…. so good! Budva is definitely a place that is best visited when it’s warm, but we still had fun wandering around the beach. We also walked to a nearby beach (2 hour walk, but beautiful the whole way). I bet we’ll visit here again!
The water was really cold, and Pete was crazy enough to go into the water knee deep!
Budva also had a nice fortress/old town to explore.