October 5, 2022 – The southern tip of Croatia got narrower and narrower and we approached Montenegro. To be honest, I only remember Montenegro from Eurosong, otherwise I had no idea where it was exactly. Between Croatia and Albania as it turns out! Our first country outside the EU, exciting… The border crossing was nothing special, just check our ID and board documents and drive on. Our first quest was of course to provide ourselves with internet. As complete digital nomads, we are completely lost without an internet connection, so we bought a 15-day SIM card for €10 with 500 GB, yes, you read that right: 500 GB for €10. Every provider has the same deal, but we read that One would have the best network coverage so we went for this one. And yes, in Montenegro they pay with the euro, although the country is not yet a member of the EU. They used to pay with the Deutsche Mark there, and switched with the introduction of the euro.
Montenegro didn’t immediately give us a culture shock. We saw many well-known brands and the infrastructure was okay at first sight. When we saw the diesel prices, we immediately filled up. € 1.48/litre, compared to 1.62 in Croatia and 2.3 in Germany. In retrospect we can say that we would not see those prices again… We drove through Herceg Novi and started the drive around the Bay of Kotor. If you don’t feel like this, you can also take a ferry to Kotor itself, but we had time and wanted to do some sight-seeing.
Our first stop turned out to be Kotor. I say “turned out” because we didn’t really have a plan. But it soon became clear that there was something to see there, we could deduce from the park 4 night comments, and oh yes, the cruise ship that was docked there also indicated that. Kotor has an old historic center and has tapped into tourism. We parked a 15-minute walk from the old center in a residential area. (The advantage of having a normal ‘camionette’ of 6 meters is that you can usually park it between the normal cars, and it doesn’t stand out too much.) We walked to the old center and were greeted by a mob of Americans who had probably just left off the cruise ship.
Kotor is an old walled port city that was originally a Venetian colony, and later fell under Italian and Austrian rule alternately. In 1918 it became part of Yugoslavia.
The city also has a thing for cats. These kept the vermin away during the Middle Ages and became a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Even today, Kotor has a strong cat population, which are fed by the locals. This connection with cats is of course also commercially useful to sell many a souvenir to the passing tourist. Everywhere you see a souvenir shop with all kinds of knick-knacks derived from cats. If you ask us, it would be better to spend part of the income on a vet for part of the street cats…
Fort with a view
After visiting the old center we went to the local supermarket, and then drove on to look for a place to sleep. We drove up a narrow road and had to do some serious maneuvering to let oncoming traffic through. We landed at an old fortress, Fort Gorazda. From here you have a fantastic view of the Bay of Kotor.
A little later, Amber also came up panting with her bicycle and pitched her tent behind a bush. We sat down for an aperitif, and a little later the peace was disturbed by two tourist buses. An exuberant gang of American youths installed themselves on top of the fort for an organized barbecue with music and alcohol. Fortunately, they were taken away again after sunset and we had the fort to ourselves again.
The next morning we explored the fort and took some photos. We also discovered a bat and a strange kind of grasshopper.
And the sequel…
After this we wanted to start the serpentine of Kotor. A narrow road with 20 hairpin bends, to get to the national park of Lovcen. You can read how we fared in the second and last part about Montenegro…