Before we even decided where we would go for a vacation we had agreed to rent a car at the destination and go for a road trip. When we got to Dubrovnik, though, there were so many options to choose from; should we have a road trip to Albania, Montenegro or other parts of Croatia like Split or Zagreb.
In the end Montenegro was close enough and offered us exactly what we were looking for – a beach – so there we drove!
We were told by the rental company that queuing at the border takes approximately 1 hour to 1 and a half hours. I don’t know what lucky stars were shining for us because we only queued for about 10 minutes on the border. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in South I’m lucky! ♠
Croatia is quite a ‘hilly’ country, as in you are constantly either climbing or descending a hill. But Croatia was nothing compared to Montenegro, which actually boasts even mountains that raise up to 2 kilometers. The elder folk in these countries must be in good shape due to all the exercise they get by just going to the corner market.
We had located a beach town called Herceg Novi on the map at the rental office’s table and driving there was so easy that even I could’ve done it. The road snaked its way around the Croatian mountains with views over the Adriatic Sea and I think there were altogether 3 places where it was possible to turn onto another road. But our way went straight, all the way.
We found ourselves thinking that this can’t be so easy, the border crossing, the quality of the roads and finding our way to the destination were all just too good to be true. So we expected that finding a parking place must be a struggle, at least. But no. We found a spot immediately, dumped the car and walked down a hill to the beach.
Montenegro turned out a land of surprises for us! We weren’t quite sure if it was even part of the EU and we thought they were just being hospitable by accepting Euros. But no, their currency actually is Euro! In addition everyone spoke English!
The country gained its independence as late as 2006 and has several Unesco World Heritage sites, such as the former royal city Cetinje and the Kotor Old Town. It is one of those raising stars in Eastern Europe, which will probably host bigger and bigger crowds of tourists every year. A the moment it’s still rather calm, mostly popular among Russians, but more and more people are finding their way there. So, if you want to see it at its natural state, go now!
We spent a relaxing day on the Herceg Novi beach, I mostly underneath the sunbrella (yeah, I came up with that!) due to my previously burnt shoulders and nose. When the time came to look for some sustenance my bf googled the best restaurant in the city. And again luck struck us like a lightning from a clear sky: that particular restaurant was right next to us on the beach.
We like eating and my boyfriend has a habit of ordering way too much food, which he can’t finish. So, I usually do. Despite this we’re both quite small and I guess that was the reason why our waitress came back twice to make sure that we actually did mean to order as many courses as we did; salmon pasta, lamb kebabs with fries, risotto, and a starter platter to share (I think it was meant for 4 people to share but hey, all’s good).
After that we did have the food coma. And food coma with over +30 degrees heat can be very, very hard. But we’re from Finland and Sisu is strong in us so we decided to walk our way through the city to the Old Town to see the Kanli Kula Fortress (the name translates to Bloody Tower, how cool!).
The fortress’s original purpose was to serve as a prison (and apparently was one big torture chamber at a time) and later just a “fun park”. Climbing the walls was brilliant, there is a new alleyway leading to another direction after each staircase and on top you have the most spectacular views around the Adriatic Sea. We even spotted a cruise ship on its way to Dubrovnik.
These days concerts and plays are arranged in the amphitheater on top of the fortress so at least the ghosts of the long-gone tortured prisoners have some entertainment.
In the evening we returned to the car and my boyfriend walked around it to make sure it hadn’t been damaged during our absence. He was happy with what he saw and it wasn’t until I sat into the car that I noticed something on the windscreen blocking my view: a parking ticket.
Finally! The first thing that didn’t go according to plan that day, it almost felt like we were back to normal :D
This came as no surprise, though. I basically collect parking tickets. But it still isn’t an enjoyable surprise to receive and I hesitantly opened it to see how much money we owed. And one more surprise: 10€! I didn’t know such a small sum was even classifiable as a fine. But hey, better that than 80€!
Ticket in the pocket we drove back to the border, which was completely empty this time so straight through we went. I adapt to new places really quickly, probably because I have moved from one country to the next so many times. And even though we had only spent one day in Dubrovnik it felt like we were driving back home.
What a lovely day it was! I really, really recommend you to rent a car when in Dubrovnik! It’s really cheap; 24 hours cost us just above 60€ (including everything) + filling the tank when we returned. The roads in Croatia are in good condition and what’s best, you then have the complete bragging rights because you saw Montenegro and/or Albania before all your friends and family ;)
I can’t brag much, though, because my best friend got there before me years ago…