If you’ve never thought about going to Montenegro, I’m sorry to tell you…you are missing out! Once again my day trip to a city turned into three days, and I was sad to leave.
I actually made a mistake going straight from Mostar, Bosnia to Kotor, Montenegro. I should have traveled via Dubrovnik and seen the filming locations for Game of Thrones. But all that means is I’ll have a reason to get back to Croatia. Not that Plitvice Lakes didn’t already give me that, to say nothing of still needing to see and swim in the Krka Lakes. But enough about Croatia. This is about Montenegro.
My bus from Mostar left at 4 PM, giving me an arrival time shortly before 1 AM. I’m a night owl and many of my journeys have landed me late at night or early in the morning. But this was the first one that had me arrive in the middle of a thunder storm. Never have I been so happy that my backpack comes with a waterproof cover. I had met a friend on the bus and we decided to search for our separate hostels together. It was quite a bit of trial and error before we finally arrived…drenched. Humorously enough, it turned out my whole hostel, including the staff, were still partying at a club. But they were notified that I arrived, so I was able to get a bed.
The next morning I got up early to hike to the top of St. John’s fortress on the mountain above Kotor. This relic dates back before the Roman Empire! It was later rebuilt by the Romans, and later again by the Ottomans. It was last occupied in World War II, and now is simply a UNESCO World Heritage Site you can hike up. It’s roughly 1350 stairs to the top and affords a fantastic view of the Bay of Kotor. There is also a secondary trail which winds further up the mountain. But this was a pre-breakfast hike to avoid the heat. Between the increasing temperature and my stomach rumblings, I decided to forgo that hike.
Lunch was at Caffe Del Mare, as recommended by the staff of my hostel. I had the seafood pizza, which was delicious. Why is it that the pizzas I’ve had in the Balkans have been as good if not better than the pizzas I had in Italy?
After a walk around town I took a nap (not a lot of sleep the night before) and woke up to join in at the hostel dinner, cooked by the staff.
The hostel was Montenegro Hostel 4U, right on the bay. For a great price, you get lodging in a stunning location. The staff are very fun and active, and are always organizing games and activities for the guests. Unfortunately the kayaks were arriving the day I left, but they had bikes to use, as well as dock games, beer pong and nightly pub crawls. As you might have guessed, this was a party hostel. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, try one of the hostels in Old Town Kotor. If you want fun, this is the place for you!
The next day I tried to find a bus to Tirane for a hostel job I was scheduled to work at, but at 1 AM the previous night I finally found that the only bus left at 8 AM. The truth is that I really wanted to spend more time in Kotor. So I slept in to enjoy another action-filled day. After a börek (traditional Balkan meat pastry) breakfast, I spent the rest of the day with other friends from the hostel. The activities of the day included dock games, beer pong, finishing my post on the Plitvice Lakes and swimming across the Bay of Kotor. That last was a bit of a challenge, as it was only the second time I have swam extensively this year. The hostel staff said it was a kilometer each way, and they weren’t far off.
I turned in early that night to get enough sleep for my morning bus to Tirana. Like I said, not nearly enough time. The hostel makes you feel like family, which makes it so much harder to leave. It didn’t help that the kayaks were arriving the day I left. Their photos on Facebook that day were awesome! So while I have many reasons to return to Croatia, I also will be back to Kotor someday. And I still need to explore the rest of Montenegro.
Why is it that the more I travel, the more I want to stay in every place for as long as I can while at the same time traveling to every other location as quickly as I can? What a conundrum!