Black Mountain

Did you know that Montenegro means "black mountain" in italian? I basically did not ever think about that ever ever because Montenegro has always sounded like a place for James Bond to kick ass and do casino and bang shoot guns supermodels kaboom FAST CAR. Anyways. They have that too.Montenegro in Montenegrin is "црна гора," Tsrna Gora, which also means Black Mountain. The language is therefore "Black-Mountainese."

Wiseassery aside, this place is pretty beautiful. We are in the Bay of Kotor for a few nights. It’s Southern Europe’s "fjord" (not a real fjord, but not enough persnickity geologists to say otherwise, so w/e) and there’s a ton of old medieval villages built into the side of the mountains which surround the bay. It’s really, really, really nice. Kotor itself is a walled city jutting into the bay, full of cool old stone bulidings and streets, and a castle whose slender walls worm all the way up the side of the mountain. We stayed in a hostel which had moonlighted as a nobleman’s house in the somethingth-century. The owner, Nikola, played a lot of dubsteb and gave us free dinner. It worked. I felt like a nobleman.

But apparently most of Western Europe had the same idea. It is swarming with tourists. This is the most tourists that Anna and I have seen so far on our journey. Normally we stick to hostels or unusual ("unpleasant") destinations to beat the rush, but it turns out Kotor is a big tourist attraction. If you look in Lonely Planet’s "Europe on a Shoestring" brick of a guidebook, the Bay of Kotor is one of the top 24 experiences of your whole life. Whoa. How crazy is that. Of my whole, whole life, I am peaking here at Kotor’s 22 at the age of 25. Busloads of old, Germanic people unload at the front gates to wander around and take lots of photos before skittering off to their packaged accomodation for the night.

Anna and I, by contrast, arrived in Montenegro at four in the morning, and slept on a sandbar. We got on the bus from Prstina in Kosovo and I really, really thought it would be a short ride. Neither Kosovo nor Montenegro are particularly large counries, and since our day trips from Prstina had taken something like 45 minutes, I expected, oh, a two-hour bus ride. It was 9. Our bus left at 7pm and arrived at 4am. We were on the very southern coastal tip, in a weird town called Ulcinj. (pronunciation is up to you.) Because it was a night bus, we took our turkish sleeping pills, and were completely delirious upon arrival. We tried to find the beach. We went up a hill. We went across the road. We saw a pizza place. The pizza was 1 Euro. We ate the pizza. Some people offered us an apartment. We said no. We found a beach. We lay facedown in the sand. Some teenagers looked at us and made noises. We slept. It rained at about nine am, at which point we awoke, took the puppy to the cafes across the street from the very public beach, and got it some milk. We got another pizza.

We managed to find a real cheap place to stay, completely by accident, in Herceg Novi in the Bay of Kotor. Jeez, that is a mouthful to type out. Fingerful. I guess just pretend we’re in Casino, and James Bond is our friend. That might be easier. It’s not quite as adventurous as lying facedown in the sand for a few hours while your sedative wears off, but daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayum:

20090719_Crkva_Gospa_od_Zdravlja_Kotor_Bay_Montenegro.jpg

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1 comment
  1. Will said:

    Ah yes, Balkan bus rides. Don’t expect any bus to be under 10 hours in duration even if it’s only a couple of centimetres on the map.

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