MONTENEGRO WHERE LESS IS MORE...
Updated: Aug 20, 2019
“Montenegrins want us to slow down take it easy with life. Because what makes them happy is to have free time to enjoy family, friends and share a good laughter, homemade wine and fine dinner.”Luisa Carter
MONTENEGRO THE UNDISCOVERED Mediterranean PARADISE!
When I first started to work with Montenegro couple of years ago, I barely knew how to pronounce the names of some of their cities. How come this destination was never on my radar? I was full of questions and expectations.
So, my partner and I decided to make this intriguing destination our first stop on our
15 country site inspection trip during Fall 2019. We called this inspection series our “Follow the Sun” trip.
Despite the simple “international” airport in the country’s capitol, Podgorica (Montenegro has less than 600,000 people total!), our first impression was positive, largely due to the warm reception we had from our local partner who met us at the airport. A very energetic fellow who quickly tuned us into the current picture in Montenegro. With a smile and a laugh, he freely expressed his frustrations towards his country in the short car transfer from the airport to the hotel. “This country still has A LOT to learn before we can be part of the European Union”. (Montenegro is in the Euro Zone but still not qualified to join the EU). “We used to be Russia’s ‘little brother’, dependent on the Soviets for everything. But since we started to get ourselves organized to apply to the Euro community and joined NATO, our ‘Big Brother’ has abandoned us, not that we miss them! But still, our government is very corrupt, and we went through A LOT OF turmoil due to the times of communism under Tito’s rule. There is a lot of work to be done”.
So, in the 18 minutes ride to our hotel I got an immediate taste of a country that is going through transitions. My curiosity was piqued! We had arrived in a place that holds a dark history that we were unaware of, and why? We were about to find out.
My curiosity was piqued!
We checked-in to our hotel in Podgorica (the nice four star Centre Ville Hotel) enjoyed our first cheese and ham platter (the county’s delicacy, it seems J) with a nice Montenegro wine, all in a very smoked-filled hotel lobby (yes, everyone smokes here!).
Every day, I was excited to wake up and learn about each city, feeling eager to travel around this small country. The nature is absolutely stunning with high green mountains, rivers, lakes and the blue water of the Adriatic ocean. While everyone talks about Croatia (Montenegro’s neighbor to the north) Montenegro really is the undiscovered Mediterranean paradise! The entire country feels like it is one big national park. On our first day we explored the countryside and visited the Shadar Lake and lunched at Sipcanik, a well-known vineyard.
We then went on to magnificent Bay of Kotor and were impressed with the beauty of Kotor’s Old Town and the dramatic Bay. We loved our hotel, The Hotel Cattaro inside of the old city. Protected by UNESCO, it was originally built as an opera house for Napoleon Bonaparte after his armies conquered the Balkans
I also found Budva – Montenegro’s coastal resort – absolutely delightful. We took a ride on a local small boat to explore the islands, and enjoyed meeting the friendly local people, all eager to practice their English with us. There, we stayed in the lovely Hotel Budva with ocean view. And the local food was excellent with so many options beyond the delicious seafood and ever-present smoked ham.
“It is so good to have something to dream about it! I confess I thought of buying a villa! ”
Importantly, it was so easy to travel around the country with our rented car and our phone’s GPS -- everything was an hour distance. Besides the Budva and Kotor, tree “musts” to visit are Lustica Bay (for its stunning setting), Peraste (for its dream-like village setting on the Bay) and Tivat (for getting a glimpse of the country’s future development plans. Overall, so many options for touring and learning! Best of all for us was the easy access by air to the capital or to nearby Dubrovnik’s airport, and makes this destination just close enough to be convenient, but far enough so that mass tourism is still some time off.
On a personal note, my partner and I were enchanted with the views of our preferred landscape (“mountain and ocean”) and amazed at the very attractive real estate prices… wonderful villas overlooking the most beautiful views and sunsets from the Adriatic ocean. So yes, I confess I thought of buying a villa outside Budva and moving there! Or maybe just come back and rent a house. It is so good to have something to dream about it!
Thinking about visiting the undiscovered Mediterranean?
Montenegro is the perfect place to organize groups focused on nature and outdoor activities as an emerging destination. One can enjoy boating Boka Bay Catamaran cruise, hiking, kayaking, zip line, swimming or simply relaxing.
Let’s not forget their philosophy of life “slow down and live to laugh and enjoy family and friends! “