The Magic of Montenegro

Port after port I write about how much I have loved each one of the countries. Each has been a completely new and fun experience but NOTHING comes close to the magic of Montenegro.

We docked in Dubrovnik, Croatia and already knew this was going to be the paradise port. Dubrovnik is beautiful. A huge wall surrounds the whole Old Town where people sell art work and play music. The stone architecture is captivating, castles popping up on every corner with a breath-taking view of the clearest blue Mediterranean water. We walked through the Old Town and went to the beach early the first morning. We rented a cabana for the day and had a blast swimming and snorkeling. At night we went to Fuego, the biggest club in Dubrovnik, and danced till morning once again. Fuego had an awesome energy about it, everyone was up on platforms dancing and laughing. The roof top had an awesome little terrace where the trees were incorporated into the building so we could sit on the branches and climb while taking a breather from the dance floor.

The next morning, after two hours of sleep, we woke up and headed to the bus terminal to get the first one to Montenegro. We made arrangements to stay at this hostel called Saki when we got there and the whole plan had such positive vibes from it that I knew this was going to be spectacular…and it certainly was. The bus ride was the most beautiful drive ever. Four hours of mountain tops and coastlines. Some thought different, the little sleep and excessive dancing isn’t for everyone and the curvy crazy roads weren’t the best mixture. It was probably one of the scariest rides, the drivers don’t follow any kind of rules here – its all up in the air and when your going 75 around mountain top corners and looking down at a drop of hundreds of feet into the rocky water. Crossing the border into Montenegro from Croatia was really interesting – even more interesting on the way home though. They stopped, took our passports and made us sweat on the crowded bus for a good 30 minutes then allowed us to pass. The way home was much different.

As we got more and more into Montenegro it was very obvious that everyone was in shock with the beauty of this place. This is not like the beauty I have spoke about before – this is the most unbelievable place I have ever seen. It is a fantasy of a country…straight out of a fairy tale. Driving on the Bay of Kotor was my favorite. Imagine mountains, huge black mountains (hence the name Montenegro – Black Mountains), surrounding the quaintest little towns. An island in the middle of the bay has a small church where people drive their boats to every Sunday. The mountain landscape goes on forever and the crystal clear water is just amazing. Thanks to the Costa Del Mar sunglasses Albie got me for my birthday I could see fish everywhere from the bus. There are no words to fully describe the beauty of this place. I could write and write and write and it would never give it any justice. This is probably why Montenegro is the “jem of the world” and the “worlds best kept secret”.

We stayed about 45 minutes from the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Budva, Montenegro. The Saki Hostel was by far the best hostel in the world. Saki and his family (his wonderful mother, wife, children, and brothers) greeted us with two bottles of the countries famous liquor, cookies, and fresh cut watermelon. The liquor comes in clear bottle with a pear in the middle. I was very curious about how the pear got inside the bottle and asked Saki about it… his first answer was magic. I was totally down for magic but then he explained the real process. When the pear trees begin to bud the person who makes it will put bottles on the tiny sprouts and the pear grows inside the bottle! I thought that was so cool! The hostel costed 8euro a night… ONLY EIGHT EUROS. I have never experienced this much hospitality in my life. I could pay for the best suite in the most expensive hotel and not get half of what Saki did for us. They sat with us and laughed with us from morning till….morning again! We definitely didn’t get much sleep but Saki kept us going. They made sure we stayed fed and had everything we needed. They called cabs when we needed them, made us breakfast for 3euro, dinner for 3euro…these dinners were LAVISH. Huge family style dinners and breakfasts. He made all fifteen of us feel like his own children. His children were a great time too. We played soccer and had water gun fights with them in the street in the afternoons. Saki’s brother even let me hold his new little baby girl, Teah. Gabby and Alex both celebrated their birthdays the two days in Montenegro which made it really awesome too. Saki went out and bought all kinds of cake and a few bottles of wine for us to toast and sing happy birthday. The man is wonderful – he is the most generous and loving individual I have ever come across.

Our first day we went to the beach and relaxed a bit after a long bus ride and no sleep the night before. That night we had a wonderful dinner at Saki’s of traditional Montenegran food and went to the Old Town (there is an Old Town everywhere it seems like, ahah) to celebrate our girls birthdays. We ended up at Raphaelo where Carter got Gabby and flaming bottle of vodka and we sang again, of course. We danced until the bar closed (2am) and were not ready to call it a night. We waved down a taxi and told him to take us to a place where we could dance. He knew exactly where we should go and proceeded to take us up to the top of the mountain where we could already see the beams of light shooting out into the sky. This club was insane. It was the size of a stadium. We stayed there all night then headed back to Saki as the sun was rising.

The next morning we headed to the Old Town, once again, and posted up at the beach. We did some shopping on the strip because the prices are incredibly cheap. The girls got big floppy hats and the boys went and got the traditional, super short and tight, bathing suits. We figured this was the best way to not stand out as Americans…but I think it just drew even more attention, in a funny way. I got a really sweet hair wrap done and while the lady was doing it something happened where she had to get off the main strip. So in a panicked rush, me, her, and her little girl start grabbing the jewelry she was selling and all the hair wrap supplies and running down an alleyway. A little down the road, behind a little shed the women finished my hair wrap then gave me a bunch of free, really beautiful, handmade wire jewelry! I don’t know what exactly happened or why she couldn’t be there but it was a really fun experience and it paid off in the end! I headed back to the beach and swam around for a good bit of time, admiring the mountainous landscape and looking at the clear blue sky. I felt like I was swimming in a paint…or the most perfect post card. I tried to stay in that moment, soak up every feeling, appreciate every bit of it’s beauty. I never want to forget that place in my mind.

That night I got to skype with my brother and Gabby which was really great because I haven’t seen anyone face-to-face in so long and it felt good to talk to a familiar face from home. After I chatted with them I immediately hit up Lacey so that I could talk to her too. Her swollen face was so cute…I like her better without her wisdom teeth, hahahaha, sorry Lace. Around 1:00 am we got some taxi’s and went back to the mountain top club with our whole group of friends. We never stop, we danced till dawn. The pictures are amazing. The view from the club was just unbelievable. Everywhere you are in Montenegro must be beautiful. The country is flawless. The people are generous, loving, happy and giving. The program I talked about creating in an earlier post would be perfect in this location. Mountains and sea – the two most wonderful areas for recovery. Nature is the ultimate healing and Montenegro brings both of them into perspective.

After we left the club we immediately gathered our belongings and Saki packed us into his hummer and 3 others cars and drove us all the way back to Dubrovnik. Imagine that – our hostel owner took us 4 hours back to our ship…in a HUMMER! We looked so cool coming out of that. One problem coming back was our one friend, Omar, was held at the border coming back into Croatia. The country would not allow him to come back in because he has a passport from Lebanon. After fifteen of us showed our semester at sea ID cards and explained our situation they still would not allow it…just because he is of Arab decent. It was the most eye-opening situation of my life. Omar is a great friend and person in general and because of his nationality he is constantly scrutinized and judged by others. Every time he travels he is pulled aside and questioned. I never experienced this first hand before and now that I have I see it in a whole different light. Someone’s nationality should not be their identity. Before this trip I have to admit I have judged people of different nationalities before and never really thought twice about it, especially after 9-11 but now, going through this, I have realized that just because someone is Arab doesn’t mean they are any different from you or me. Omar is one of my best friends here and definitely one of the most fun to be around…his ethnicity doesn’t make me think twice about being friends with him – why should it make others think twice about letting him travel back to our school ship with 15 other Americans pleading his case?

All in all, this last port was the most incredible so far. I hope to live in Montenegro at some point in my life. I hope everyone gets to see it one day before the Russians come in and take it over (which is starting to happen…which we learned from a really nice Serbian man on the beach). Montenegro is of crucial location and many surrounding countries want to control it. I hope none of them do because it’s beauty needs to remain untouched. Bottom line – on your next vacation go to Montenegro. It is worth every penny.


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