Going to Montenegro during a weekend trip to Dubrovnik gets you 8 stamps on your passport in one weekend! 8. I got my passport when I turned 18, right before leaving for college. I had big dreams back then, to study abroad, to visit the world, and when I was in the Russian club in college, I wanted to take a class trip to Prague. In the summer of 2005 I went and submitted for my first passport, which I still have actually.
A girl so excited to get out into the world and guess where I got to go in college. Nowhere. Big dreams to get out and experience the world didn’t go very well with a Forensic Science Degree. I didn’t actually get to my first port (Portsmouth England) until I was 23. And the kicker… that country and the next 12 afterwards were all visited on my ship, no stamps in the passport. So my first stamp didn’t come until August 10th 2012, the day I flew to Japan for my 2nd duty station. 8 stamps in the passport in one weekend, that’s a big deal let me tell you.
While in Dubrovnik, M couldn’t help but bring her Rick Steves Dubrovnik Croatia book. I’ve never been a big advocate with the travel books. I had 4 of those books (Fordor’s, Lonely Planet, etc.) when I moved to Japan and I still have them and I didn’t use them at all. I’ve found that I can find mostly everything I want to do via other Travel Blogs and putting feelers out in Social Media.
When I was planning this trip I posted a tweet saying that I was headed to Croatia and asked if anyone had any ideas. Within that day I received 3 tweets back giving me information and letting me know if I needed more information to just ask. That’s the best part of the Travel Community, there’s always somebody out there that knows something about somewhere you want to go. Which is why, on the second day of our Dubrovnik Croatia trip, we decided that we did want to rent a car and cross the boarder into Montenegro. Its only 40 minutes to the border from Dubrovnik and so worth the trip!
We called Sanja, the women who we were staying with using Air B&B and told her our plan to rent a car. She worked it out for us within 5 minutes. The next morning at 0700, we met her friend outside of the house and got the car. For 50 euros we were able to drive the car the entire day and all we had to do was call the guy when we were getting back that evening and he showed up to get the car. Easiest car rental I’ve ever had! When we were putting our stuff in the car for the trip our rental car friend started walking on foot. Turns out he only lived 5 minutes away.
It was an early morning, and so worth it. As we were driving out of town we were up on the hill above Dubrovnik and it was mystical and mesmerizing. It was always slightly foggy in the mornings while we were visiting, the kind of fog that blends the horizon with the waterline. Such a beautiful view.
The even better part, not really much navigation is required. You get on the one road that takes you to the boarder and you remain on it the entire way. More about that later. When we got to the customs area we had to go through 2 lines of traffic but because we left early, it didn’t take very long. You get 2 stamps going through and 2 coming back. This is very exciting because its the first stamp I have with a car on it in the upper corner, instead of a plane!
After we got through the 2 customs stops it was just leisurely driving after that. No turns needed. The road you’re on will bring you the whole way around the lake and coming back there’s a short cut! (4.50 euro ferry ride with ferry’s leaving every few minutes) Which cuts 40 minutes off the return trip, which you’ll want after a day of gallivanting. One of the most exciting things to see is Our Lady of the Rocks and the island of St. George in the Bay of Kotor, 2 small islands surrounded by a beautiful landscape.
One of the islands is man made and one of the islands was born that way. Which one is man made? I guess the trees give it away but the tale of “Our Lady of the Rocks” is that it was formed by fishermen (the kind full of a superstitious nature) that would drop rocks in the bay when they came into port.
A few ships were also sunk here laden with rocks and over many years of time, voila a small island is born. As you can see there is a cathedral there now and every year the residents in the area take their small boats out into the bay and drop rocks to ensure the islands existence.
The first place we stopped was Perast, there were a couple of other towns before that but nothing of note. In Perast there are many people offering to boat you out to the island for 5 euros. We declined the offer but if you want to go, that’s where you’ll want to stop for a ride.
Perast is a small town overlooking the Bay of Kotor. There is a parking lot right off the road and you can walk down into the town (about 3 minutes) and to the end of the town from your car (5 minutes). There is a church tower located in this town that is perfect for seeing the Bay and the 2 islands and it was our intent to climb it. Up and up we twisted and at the top of the tower we had the view all to ourselves on this sunny day. It was awesome!
Our next stop was the medieval city of Kotor. Although it is not a spectacular as Dubrovnik it has a great wall built up the side of the mountain (which you can climb although it is pretty steep) and it is the hidden off the map medieval city which means you can forget about all the tourists and enjoy the city all to yourself for a couple of hours. We walked through the city streets getting lost and stopped for desert at an out door cafe and then we were off again, this time our intent was Budva the beach areas.
Coming up on Budva we continued driving for 3 km to stop at an overlook for an island called Sveti Stefan. this island was turned into a 5 star hotel in the 1960’s and was the rich and famous hotspot for the who’s who of Hollywood during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Apparently it was such a hot spot to go to that the owner would take the celebrity’s best offer for who was allowed to stay.
When Montenegro separated from Yugoslavia in the 1990’s the hotel began to decline. After claiming independence in 2006, Aman Resorts signed a 30 year contract and the resort is on the rise again. There are 50 rooms and 8 suits in the Villa and nothing goes for less than 700 euros a night.
After we’d had enough with the rich and famous we were backtracking to Budva where we rented lounge chairs and umbrellas and happily whittled away at the afternoon in bliss. The beaches themselves weren’t the best, but laying on the lounge chairs, napping, was.
After Budva we decided it was time to head home because there was restaurant right by Sanja’s house that Sanja highly recommended and we wanted to get back for dinner. Like I said earlier we drove back around the lake a little ways until we got to the Ferry (which is right off the road, you can’t miss it) and pulling over we bought a ticket for (4.50 euro) hopped in our car and were crossing the Bay and cutting off 40 minutes of driving in less than 5 minutes. The Ferry ride itself took 15 minutes.
By the end of the evening we collapsed into our beds happier than 2 kids that have free reign of a candy store for an entire day. We had seen so much and had such great conversation, it was so blissful. Unfortunately we would be flying back to Naples the next day but the great news we weren’t leaving until the evening and we had plans to visit Lockrum, an island just a few minutes Ferry ride from the port of Dubrovnik.
Join us with the story in the next post!
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