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Montenegro

I'm on a bus (in Montenegro)

Today is my first day of the trip on my own. I didn't bother making plans for the rest of the trip, I figured I'd play it by ear and somehow get to Tirana in time for my flight. I started at the Dubrovnik international bus stop, which is right by the ferry port and conveniently walking distance from the hotel. I saw that they had an evening bus that wasn't advertised on the internet, and was very tempted to just leave my luggage at the storage facility and go sea kayaking until the later bus. However, I decided that it might be a better idea to get to Ulcinj earlier in the day when there's still light, as I didn't know where I'd be staying. Turns out, that was a great idea, as I doubt that the sea kayaking trips were still operating. It got pretty rainy pretty quickly. The entire bus ride actually had on and off rain, with more on than off. Other than a slight delay at the border (they did stamp our passports this time) and a slight traffic jam at Kotor, it was a relatively uneventful, if wet, ride. 90% of the bus disembarked at Kotor, and only a few people were left with me by the time we got to the end- Ulcinj. Upon arrival, many taxi drivers offered to take me and the other passengers to Shkoder, but they weren't going there, and I decided that nor was I. I had spent enough time on a bus already today and was kind of tired of sitting. Fortunately, there are a string of little hostels and motels right across the street from the bus station. I just picked one and went there. For 20 Euro (including tax) I got a private room at Hotel London. It's more of a motel, but it was clean and had good enough wifi, so I was fine. I headed out towards old town for dinner, but wasn't very lucky. This is clearly a beach town in off season. I passed a ton of closed-up restaurants, boarded-up hotels, and other businesses that were clearly closed for the off-season. I passed a couple of bars containing people smoking and drinking, but that's not a super-great dinner. Finally, I came to a grocery store. I stocked up on granola bars, fruit, and these cereal cups they had, so as to be covered for breakfast tomorrow as well. Clearly, I'm not at the beach part of town (what Ulcinj is known for) and not seeing the town in full swing, but I have to say that I'm not super-impressed. The packs of feral dogs wandering the streets made it feel less safe. The garbage littering the streets made it feel dirty. The part of Ulcinj I saw sharply contrasted with the parts of the other cities I've seen on this trip. Due to the shadiness and the fact that it wasn't too far from dark, I headed back to the motel with my forage and got stuff done instead of exploring on my own. Hopefully, by going to bed early, I'll be ok to get up for the first (6am) bus to Shkoder instead of having to wait around for the later bus.

Beaches

Beaches

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Montenegro Comments (0)

Montenegro

Today's tour was another Atlas tour, and so we were very excited, given how good the last was. The bus picked us and the other tourists up, and we were off to Montenegro! There were no issues with the border, and then we made a bathroom stop. The guide was a little focused on that, and there was actually only one female and one male bathroom for the bus of 40 people, but we made it through. Next stop was a half-paved road shoulder where buses could pull over for pretty pictures and guys selling souvenirs out of the back of their car. We took pictures and moved on. Next, we made a stop in Kotor. Kotor is a beautiful bay surrounded by mountains, and has a historic old city. It is more or less a large UNESCO souvenir shop. We met a local guide who gave us a short tour of the old city, but basically covered everything there was to see there, other than the inside of a museum and a hike up the city walls. I would have loved to hike the city walls, but we didn't really have enough time and my parents weren't about to voluntarily walk stairs that they didn't have to. Instead, we wandered the city and re-saw everything we saw on the tour, but at a slower pace and with more stops in souvenir shops. The outside of the buildings can't be changed because it is a UNESCO site, so they're interesting to see, but I guess people don't really want to live there, so most of the insides of the buildings have been converted into places for tourists- mostly restaurants and souvenir shops. If you're not eating, buying, or walking the walls, you don't need a ton of time there. We continued on our way, which led us up some very serpentine mountain roads. The views were amazing, especially as we got to the point where we were in the clouds. I was super-impressed with the driving, as the driver regularly had to back up as the roads were really only wide enough to be one-way in many places. I also fell asleep a little. The guide today was not as good as most of the other guides we've had. She was a bit unprofessional (sharing negativity about tour companies), and very scatterbrained. Her stories didn't flow, answers to questions were completely off-topic (ask about what's in a city and get a tale about why she doesn't drink coke), and she spent a lot more time telling us the names of places than what happened there. (But if you're into etymology, she's got you covered!) She also repeated herself a lot, possibly because her thought flow is a little scattered and she might not remember what she said. Based on her own comments and other buses I saw that were the same company following the same path, I would guess that she only gets called in when there's overflow and that she's a second or third string guide. Once we were mostly up the mountain, we did another roadside stop for pictures of the great view, and then headed for a “snack lunch.” It was basically a ham and cheese sandwich with a drink, but I actually really enjoyed the bread. It was one of the best things I ate on the trip. The cheese was just ok though, and I saw that several people took the meat out of their sandwich and left it over. From lunch, we drove back down the mountain and over into Budva. Apparently, there is a rule that the guides can't take tours into Budva, so she just told us where the city entrance was and let us loose. What would have been nicer is if she gave us a map of the city and before-hand told us what to go see and where it is. Instead, we just wandered a bit. Budva is also historic, but has less impressive city walls, is smaller, and doesn't seem to have as much going on. It was even more like a historic-shelled souvenir shop than Kotor. All the shops had the exact same jewelry and Chinese-made stuff you can get in every port in the Caribbean, except that instead of saying “St. Kitts” on them, they said “Kotor.” I can't say that I think that the city of Budva is worth any time, although maybe with a guide it would have been worth 20 minutes to a half hour. To shorten the drive back, the bus drove onto a ferry, which whisked us across the bay. Again, we had no issues at the border. Overall, I have to say that while the scenery was very beautiful, the concept of sitting on the bus and being driven around it wasn't the best use of my vacation time. Perhaps there is a different tour that is a bit more active and meant for people under retirement age that would be more interesting. Based on this tour, I'm going to try to skip Montenegro tomorrow and just get straight to Albania.We ate dinner at a restaurant on the promenade near the hotel we stayed in before. Again, the food here was not impressive.

Lady of the Rocks Island

Lady of the Rocks Island


Outside Kotor

Outside Kotor


Kotor

Kotor


Kotor

Kotor


View from the mountains

View from the mountains


Montenegran farm

Montenegran farm

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Montenegro Comments (0)

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