Yes!!! the dreams come true...but in my case, not so often, and the actual process of realizing this dream into life is quite long. This is how it was with my trip to Montenegro. Each summer looking through the pictures of Balkan views me and my friends have been groadning and as a result always found ourselves in Italy or France. Everything has changed last summer. Getting bored of the "predictable"Western Europe we decided to try our "bucket list" destination - a land from the films of Kusturiсa.
Not without "a little help from my friends"experienced in travelling through that region and with a tiny help from the old good friend Google, so-and-so route has been worked out, hostels booked and the tickets bought. Montenegro had been waiting for us for so long!
Impressive... the first feeling about Montenegro - impressive. It had nothing in common with that backward land that we used to see in the television or even in the films of mentioned above Kusturica. The very first evidence has become Kotor.
Kotor, as a part of former Republic of Venice still keeps Middle Aged spirit inside its walls. Though Kotor is a touristic place, but the presense of the actual tourists is not appreciable at all. They are vanishing amongst old tiny streets or desparately trying to get to St. John castle on the top of the fortifications of Kotor. The climbing under the direct sun, in conditions when the air temperature almost reaches 40 degrees takes 2 long-long hours. At a half way to the top i wanted to kill myself, but it was really worth it. Only from the top you can see the real magnificence of the Gulf of Kotor.This gorgeous view captivates your thoughts that you can't think about how you are tired and exausted no more. Kotor with all its essence makes your visit unforgettable.There is nothing better than warm evenings spent with friends and a bottle of wine on the shore of the gulf listening to folk balkan music spreading all over the shore from one of the local restaurants.It was extremely hard to leave this kind of fairy tale, but it was time to move on in looking for new impressions. A new one happened to be co-called Croatian Riviera. After 3 hours drive (2 of which had been spent on the border crossing),we have finally reached Dubrovnik.
All I have known about Dubrovnik before were just TV shows or news issues mentioning some celebrities hanging out on posh yachts at the shores of Dubrovnik. Anyway, Dubrovnik keeps up its reputation by prices for hotels and in restaurants. And be ready for the local croatian currency - Kuna. If you haven't been impressed by prices in Dubrovnik, you would probably be embarrased by exchanging rates. But the city by itself is...awesome...just awesome. Accidentally you find yourself in Italian Venice, azure of the sea contrasts with white tiny houses covered with flamy red tile, offshore breeze fills up the air with coolness - Croatian Riviera for sure isn't inferior to French posh resorts, such as Nice or Cannes.
On the way back to Montenegro we chanced to discover a ferry. The Gulf of Kotor is quite large, so instead of bridges montenegrians use ferryboats. This was quite amazing experience, as it was completely unexpected. 5 minutes it took toget from one shore of the gulf to another, you have just 5 minutes to enjoy the magnificence of the local nature entirely, as from the very middle of the gulf we were able to have a glance over all sides of the gulf. 30 minutes more and we found ourselves in Sveti Stefan, known for its island city, which in due time served as a resort for many illustrious persons, including Yuri Gagarin, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophie Loren, Princess Margareth, Carlo Ponti. Unfortubately the Island is closed for all "mortals" and the only way to get to the island is to book a hotel or to reserve a table in one of the local restaurants. In both cases it would be very expensive. Of course if you are a good swimmer, the Island is reachable from the side of the sea. But, warning - this is kind of illegal as the island is private and the surrounding rocks are a bit insidious. At least nobody forbids you to admire the island outside.The rest of Sveti Stefan is quite small and after 5 days spent there you are getting bored. One of the most unforgetfull moments is the sunset - the sun sets straight behind the island, reflecting its shape on the surface of the water. It makes just incredible effect.
Searching for a bigger city we went to known in touristic circles Budva. I still have no idea why Budva remains the most popular tousristic destination in Montenegro. Dirty streets, crammed beaches, Budva looked like some anthill with people instead of ants. The Old Town is sufficiently cosy, but in comparisment to what we have seen previously, it didn't impress us much. I would rather have chosen Crimea instead of going to Budva again. At least it is much more cheaper, but the general sensation is the same. If you want to go to Budva just for curiosity, one day would be enough.
Our trip came to its logical end in Tivat. A small town on the opposite to Kotor bank of the Gulf with a claim to become a "New Monte Carlo". A newly-built harbour astonishes by variety of gorgeous yachts and boats. For just a minute you can really figure yourself in actual capital of the posh life. But just for a minute... because there is nothing to see besides the harbour and the yachts which would be undoubtedly the main attraction.
The plane with us on a board left Tivat, leaving behind 2 weeks of incredibly spent summer, but taking the most priceless thing - memories. Montenegro has become a huge discovery with its stunning nature, warm sea, historical sights and firendly people. And I can't compare it to any other place,just because it is unique,it still keeps the charm of different epoques, different ethnicities, different cultures. The place which has become that missing thing that made a trace in our hearts.
by Oksana Kulakovska
photos by Oksana Kulakovska & Viola Denys