Myself, the well-travelled Dutch lady and the gentle German giant said our goodbyes to half of the people in yesterday's group photo as we headed for Montenegro whilst the others headed further north into the Albanian mountains to hike.
For those interested in getting to Montenegro from Shkodra read this paragraph otherwise skip it. You will need to pass the land-border stop of Ulrich. To get to our intended destination in Montenegro (Kotor) we would have to catch a series of buses - three to be exact: Shkodra to Ulcinj, Ulcinjto Budva, Budva to Kotor. The combined travel duration was 4.5 hours including bus stops, hanging about and the border crossing. The cost for all of this was a very reasonable 15 euros. Yet again this was cheaper than the private transportation offered by the hostel. With hindsight and now some experience, if you can get this transportation for 20 euros I'd probably advise taking it as you could cut this 4.5 hour duration in half.
And so my first impressions of 'Monty' in general for the first 4-5 hours?
The bus ticket sales person was miserable, the driver of the bus did not offer to load our bags on to the mini bus (first time this has happened), the mini bus itself (a furgon) had no air conditioning! (just one roof window). Despite the roads being smoother than a lot of Albanian roads, the driver was super-slow hardly getting out of 2nd gear it felt. Finally to top it all off, we there were some teenage brats on the bus. They weren't intimidating as such, just super-annoying, loud and inconsiderate with their music blaring for all to hear. Crap music too of course (always the way, right).
However, once we exited the bus station in Kotor, it would be literally only a matter of minutes before I was beginning to understand why so many travellers come to this country and this town in particular...
Kotor, people, is as a town (and bay from the Adriatic sea) that is another UNESCO protected site except in this instance that's quite a claim as normally these recognised areas of Educational, Scientific and Cultural impressiveness are for single 'things' within a town or area as oppose to an entire bay. The bay of Kotor really is regarded as one of the most beautiful bays in the world and I can already vouch for that. Unsurprisingly then, it is a popular area for tourist folk ferried in (quite literally) as you'll see here.
I have a friend and his misses to went on an epic Med cruise last year. I have no idea if Montenegro was on the 'stop' list but I hope it was as the sites shown below are even in the immediate vicinity of where the ship would dock.
So this place really does have an 'old town' and 'new town'. Check out these bricked boundaries!
This walled, fortified city has three entrances and thankfully our hostel was close to one of them. Not that it takes particularly long to walk from one end to the other. Fortifications started as early at the 9th century and continued up until the 14th.
I've also discovered there is an iconic vantage point over-looking The Bay of Kotor that people take photos of and I too want to get there too - although 'getting there' might be easier said that done.
Check this out:
Gulp. And I have really crappy knees too believe me. Hopefully then folks I'll be able to do this in the next couple of days. Me thinks it will be wise to attempt it went a) the ferry and its hoards of people leave and b) when the Sun's rays are less extreme as we're seeing early to mid 30s over here presently.
Having checked into our hostel and then having walked around for a little while , we chilled and then eventually signed up to a group bbq organised by our hostel people for a cost of 5 euros which sounded acceptable. You have to remember that for the last two weeks we had all gotten use to paying less and getting more.
The bbq area itself wasn't worthy of any photos but the area down by the bay where gave a couple of OK shots as the Sun would look to set behind the epic mountain range in the distance.