Of princes 'n palaces
Trip Start Sep 12, 2006
100Trip End Sep 08, 2008
The journey took us back through Budva, the resort town we'd passed on our way to Kotor, and then up over a spectacular winding mountain road. It was a good thing I decided to take my down jacket, because as we rose we were met with snow by the side of the road, hinting that the weather was much chillier than on the coast. We passed a number of small villages and tiny cottages along the way, which showed a very different Montenegro to the cafes in Kotor's Stari Grad
The few pages I'd copied about Montenegro from a guidebook stated "much of old Cetinje still remains from when princes ruled and European ambassadors feted the social scene from their stately mansions." What we found couldn't have been further from the truth. Sure, we found some old palaces dotted around the city, but they were hardly inspiring. After wandering through the town's dull square and somewhat more interesting pedestrian thoroughfare we stopped for a coffee. As had been the case with a few other places our waiter kept a tip for himself, hardly deserved on this occasion thanks to the below average cappuccino. Chris and I found ourselves wondering why we'd left the coast, but decided to venture on for a while longer to see what we could find. Probably the most interesting thing was the Monastery, founded in 1484 and rebuilt in 1785. A bejewelled casket with a little glass window supposedly held a portion of the true Cross and some of the mummified right hand of St John the Baptist. It was hard to believe that the hand that baptised Christ (minus two fingers - one residing in Istanbul and the other in Sienna) was located here in this small, almost forgotten city in the mountains near the Montenegrin coast. Nevertheless there were a handful of pilgrims in the monastery indicating that perhaps there was some truth to the story
Without our own transport we couldn't really explore much further so we made our way back to the bus station to wait for the next bus back to Budva. 'Station' was a loose term, as we found ourselves standing in a parking lot next to a run down building with no signs whatsoever for the best part of an hour. There were an array of characters here, including a young couple, a beautiful brunette women and a bunch of older men who could have been straight out of the 'Borat' film I'd seen just a week or so earlier. We figured at least some of these people were waiting for the same bus we were, so we had no choice but to wait with them, for as long as it took.
Eventually a minibus showed up, and forty minutes later we found ourselves back in Budva. The skies were still quite grey, and given that it was early February it was hardly surprising that hotels, cafes and restaurants along the beach were empty. However we didn't come to see the resort strip, but rather Budva's Stari Grad, which had been completely rebuilt following an earthquake in 1979. The small laneways were filled with small boutique shops, restaurants and cafes, however the place felt like a ghost town, and in the 30 minutes we wandered around we must have seen no more than five or six other people
We spent our final evening in the world's newest nation in the same bar we spent the previous evening in, known simply as Pub Dock. Strangely enough the Poland Denmark game from the world handball championships was being televised, so we stayed out for a few hours to cheer our adopted homeland on. In extra time they made it over the line, and whilst it was nothing compared to the one day cricket back home, it was still good to get a bit of sport into me. Once it was over I was ready to call it a night though, wanting to get a good nights sleep in before an early morning bus to Herceg Novi, where we would change to cross the border into Croatia and travel on up to Dubrovnik. Three days was enough time to get a taste of the Montenegrin coast, however I knew there was a lot more to the tiny nation I hadn't seen. Perhaps there would come another time.