08 July 2013 | Montenegro
If I asked 100 people in the United States what they think about Montenegro, 95 would answer “Monta-what?” The other 5 would think it’s a backwards post Yugoslavia state that had attacked Croatia. They, like me, would be apprehensive to visit such a place, fearing some type of extremist people. My vision from reading cruising guides lead me to believe it was a beautiful fiord that was sparsely populated by fairly poor people. I had read also that a new marina was being built for Mega-Yachts but wasn’t finished yet so the prices were low. This was our destination and we had three days to explore the area.
Well, my vision and the reality we experienced could not have been further apart. Never in my life of traveling did I get something so wrong. From the moment we entered the Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor) it was apparent this was a magical area. I’m going to break this story into three posts, the first detailing our experience with the people and beauty of the region, the second on the marina Porto Montenegro, and the third an Megan James, a wonderful woman we met in the port.
The cities and homes along the shore were very beautiful as we motored through the bay. There were remnants of the past military all along the coast. Many abandoned submarine and cannon bunkers dotted the shoreline along with century old fortifications. Herceg Novi, which I had expected to be a fishing village, was a full fledge modern city with many new holiday homes. Most of the buildings have a similar appearance to Dubrovnik with red clay tile roofs and white stone exteriors. There is substantial vegetation with flowering bushes and trees along with large strands of pines.
The bay is broken into three main sections separated by two narrow channels. In the first two the surrounding mountains flow gently down to the water. In the last the mountains are very high and steep straight down to the water. There are many small ancient villages along the shore of this bay, which are stunning when viewed from the water. Perast is an old town of seafarers. The Russian Czar sent men to be trained on sailing centuries ago. Now it is for tourists and features two small islands off its shore. One has a church on it dedicated to all the sailors lost at sea and the other has a Monastery. Further down the bay is the medieval city of Kotor with impressive fortified walls extending up the mountain slope. We only viewed this bay from the water due to poor planning and time restrictions.
I must comment on this last bay. It was the most beautiful area on the water I’ve ever seen. In my imagination it reminded me of what New Zeeland might be like. Beyond this I can’t describe, you just have to see it to believe and appreciate it. To add to the natural and man made beauty, there were thousands of locals lining the shore swimming and playing with their children in a simplistic lifestyle. Throw a stone, cast a fishing line with a cane pole, swim along the shore with friends. Montenegran’s are also some of the most pleasant people we have met in our travels. They are happy and helpful. With that, I will make this statement; I’ll not leave the Mediterranean on Palarran without returning to this country in order to fully experience what it has to offer. We all feel this way.