Friday, December 2, 2011

On Sandy's Bucket List: A Visit to Montenegro

12/1, Thursday
A new month, a new country...Montenegro! The name conjures visions of James Bond in "Casino Royale" which is set here, but was actually filmed in the Czech Republic for the most part.

NiƱo is our van driver and a cheerful guy. Ryo, Lena, and Shun are along, too. They're university students from Japan on their senior year trip. Five passengers is the least number that the tour company will take, so it was meant to be.

We stop several times along the way to enjoy the scenery. It does seem different than Croatia. It seems more rugged and dramatic and known as the "black mountain". Rick Steves, whose comments seem right on, says Montenegro is the encore to Dubrovik.

Our first big stop is the Bay/Town of Kotor. It is located at the end of a very long fjord. The town is surrounded by imposing walls reaching way up the mountainside. We probably made it up about one tenth just to enjoy the view. Again, how in the world did they build it?

Montenegro uses the Euro, not Kuna, and the stores won't accept kuna. We are forced to exchange at a ridiculous rate and commission.

Our second stop is just that, to see from the road the private island of St. Stephan. No visitors allowed. Photos only from a distance.

Budva, a major tourist town on the sea, is our lunch stop. A nice seaside restaurant for the five of us. The students are are all good conversationalists, in English. Shun grew up in Orange County, CA. Lena is currently studying in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. And, Ryo is taking an English-speaking course in London.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegevna, is our planned destination for the weekend. Now, we need to figure out how to get there and back.

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