The World Turned Upside Down

In Mostar I had received a hint that I should visit the city of Budva in Montenegro. The city is easily reachable from Dubrovnik, since it lays on the major bus route into Montenegro. The information about buses into Montenegro, as found on the Internet, indicated, that the bus may not drive all the way to Budva since the driver might not feel like it…

When I saw the bus which should bring me to the coast of Montenegro, I had no doubts, that there should anything be wrong. The bus left the terminal on time, so there was really no reason to be worried. It somehow felt strange though, that the bus pulled into a parking lot after 15 minutes, just outside of Dubrovnik. I have to admit it, the view from the parking lot is amazing. However there was no announcement and the break took longer and longer. Suddenly an almost identical bus pulled up with the same destination. Then came the announcement: please change the bus.
The drivers reloaded the luggage while the passengers got into the older and narrower bus. What had happened? I have no idea, but it certainly makes sense to drive one full bus instead of two which are only half full.
A short time later, we stopped at the boarder check point to Montenegro. This meant another stamp in my passport. The criteria, according to which the immigration officers stamp the passport, has yet to be discovered. My passport was stamped upon immigration to Croatia, upon leaving Croatia for Montenegro and upon entering Montenegro. It is, as if the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina did not exist.

The old town of Budva, Montenegro

The old town of Budva, Montenegro

The landscape turned from the Croatian hill and lower mountains into real rocky mountains in Montenegro. Suddenly I had the impression that we were going in circles. And this was actually the case! We were driving around the biggest fjord in Southern Europe. If one is driving by car, there is a ferry to shorten the journey, but the bus drives all around the fjord. One special sight in the middle of the fjord is the monastery of Banja near Risan. The monastery consists of an island just for the buildings.
Library of the citadel in Budva

Library of the citadel in Budva

At the Southern end of the fjord, in Kotor, there was a big movement in the bus. Almost all the backpackers got off. Since there were not many people left on the bus, I got a little bit nervous, whether the driver would continue to Budva or not. In my case, there was no reason to worry, the bus continued all the way to Budva. Whatever happened after Budva is beyond my knowledge…
Budva is a nice small town on the shores of the Adria. Unknown to me at first, the place is well established with tourist from the Balkan and from Russia. One yacht exceeds the other in size. One almost ignores the small fishers boats of the locals.
One very charming site and possibly the major destination for many tourists is the old town of Budva, sporting many churches and a very impressive citadel. From the citadel, one has a wonderful view across the bay, the old town and the mountains.
View from the fortress of Kotor

View from the fortress of Kotor: the biggest fjord in Southern Europe

Since many backpackers got off the bus in Kotor, I assumed that there was something to be seen in that city as well. In the very nice Montenegro Hostel, where I stayed, a poster hangs on the wall, giving an overview over that city. This caused a rare decision: I did some backtracking. The forty minutes were really worth the trip for the city of Kotor with its very scenic old town and the fortress towering high above the city. To reach the fortress, I had to climb up stairs for more than 30 minutes. All along the way, I followed the walls of the the fortress, which lead all the way from the old town to the top. On the way up to the fortress, not only children were complaining about the elevation…
Old town of Kotor

Old town of Kotor

Since even in Southern Europe fall has arrived, the temperatures drop quite low at night and even in the sunshine during the day do not rise much above 20 degrees centigrade with strong cold winds. The ascent to the fortress however was protected from the cold wind and also exposed to the sunshine, such that there was no reason to freeze. This was particularly good for me, since I had given my warm clothes to the laundry and thus was hiking in just t-shirt and shorts.
Later in the afternoon, I started thinking about my further journey. I plan to leave Montenegro earlier than planned towards Shkoder, Albania (Montenegro still has chance to qualify for the European soccer championship, whereas Switzerland doesn’t).
From Shkoder, I plan to do a few excursions into the countryside of Albania. This will give me some first experience with a very popular mode of transport in Albania, the furgons.