After North Macedonia and Kosovo, it was quite a shock to be in Montenegro!
There were hordes of tourists!
And with the tourists, higher prices and lower service.
But I understand the appeal. Mountains, rivers, sea, beaches.
Montenegro has it all.
It was a 8 hour bus ride from Peja, Kosovo to Ulcinj, Montenegro.
We passed over the Accursed Mountains (Albanian Alps), which at one point involved some serious hairpin turns and seeing snow at the high altitude.
But there was beautiful scenery that I couldn’t really capture while moving.
On route we also passed over Lake Skadar. It’s a national park and one of Europe’s top bird habitats.
Ulcinj (ool-seen) is on the lower bottom of Montenegro, close to the Albanian border.
The population is predominantly Albanian Muslim, so feels familiar with the food and mosques. Except now there is also the sea and seafood!
Mala Plaža is the town’s main beach, and the street along side is lined with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and ice cream vendors. And when it’s 25, even I had to have a gelato!
But it’s the Stari Grad (Old Town), that you can see up on the hill behind, that was the most interesting.
At about 2,500 years, Ulcinj is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic coast. First settlements of the Illyrians (Ancient Greeks) appeared before 5th century BC.
There are two gates into the old walled town.
As you enter at the Upper or North Gate, there is a museum containing Roman and Ottoman artifacts.
There is a 1510 church that was converted to a mosque in 1693. Remains of the minaret on the right.
Looking down at the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in a olive tree grove. Cemetery is the foreground. Built in 1890 on the site of a 15th century monastery.
The Old Town is predominately hotels, apartments and restaurants with very little retail.
The Palata Venezia where I stayed was a complex of centuries old buildings with lovely terraces and pathways.
The three windows of my room and the fantastic view to the Mala Plaza, the South Gate and the Adriatic Sea.
The very useful electric cart for transferring luggage up/down to the gate.
Gani, the attentive owner, who kept a good eye on operations. And will talk to you about good Montenegrin wines!
Path heading down to the South Gate.
Memorial for victims of the 1979 earthquake that destroyed a large part of town.
Xhamia e Kryepazarit Mosque
Xhamia e Detarëve or Sailors Mosque on the waterfront.
Local olive oil in repurposed wine bottles. Such gorgeous colour!
Then a bus to Budva.
We passed by Sveti Stefan, an island connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. It’s mainly a very expensive closed resort.
Budva was my second walled Old Town in Montenegro.
And chockablock full of retail and clots from the cruise ships that block the arteries…
St Mary’s in Punta (840)
Looking over the town from the walls of the Citadela.
My apartment over looked the beach in the background. Great view and sound of the waves, when the music wasn’t on.
Walking around the point on the right to Mogren Beach.
St John the Baptist Catholic Church (late 12th century)
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church (1804)
Then another 40 minute bus ride to Kotor.
And another walled Old Town! Still lots of tour groups but much bigger and the feel of a lived in town.
First. A moat at the 13th-15th century Gurdić Gate.
The walls stretch all the way up the hill.
There is a path from the town up to St. John’s Fortress. 1200 m, 1350 steps, 260 m above sea level.
I figured half way was a good view!
Sea Gate is the main gate for most people.
Sea Gate opens onto the Old Town’s largest square, Trg od Oružja (Armoury Square)
Clock Tower (1602). People were once shackled to the pyramid-shaped pillar in front for punishment.
Outside River Gate. All supplies are brought in by handcart.
St Luke’s Church was originally Catholic in 1195. From 1657 to 1812 the Catholics and Orthodox shared the space. It is now Orthodox.
St Nicolas’ Orthodox Church (1909)
St Mary’s Collegiate Church (1221) with 20th century bronze doors.
St Tryphon’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1166 but heavily redesigned after being damaged in many earthquakes.
Rocking those boots!
Saturday morning market.
Kotor is very cat friendly. It’s nice to see.
There is a cat museum that raises money to feed them. Shops are full of catty knickknacks.
I’m off to Herceg Novi tomorrow. Still lots to see in Montenegro, so I’ll make a second post!
And I’ll try and stay cool.