Inspired by the fact that we had a car and a few days to kill, B. and I decided to branch out from our tour of touristy Split, Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik in Croatia and take the road less traveled. As it turns out, its the road less traveled unless you’re a Montenegrin speed demon with a death wish.Its hard to conceptualize as an American, but Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro are all very, very close to one another. In fact, in Dubrovnik we were only about 20 minutes from the Bosnian border, so there seemed no reason not to take the scenic route to Montenegro via Bosnia, and stop in Trebnje, a small city in Bosnia, on the way.
The route was very scenic, as it turns out. Get a load of these window snaps B. managed to get.
Bosnia is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. The pictures don’t give you half an idea of just how breathtaking it is.
Unfortunately, they won’t do the feelings of discomfort and guilt that I go there much justice, either. Its not that Trebjne wasn’t pretty. It was. Its not that it wasn’t built up or developed, either. It seemed just as built up as Croatia in places.
Its just that everything seemed relatively new and pre-fabricated. Even the “Old Town,” which was the main tourist attraction, looked pretty new. Maybe this seemed odd just because I was coming off of old, old “Old Towns” in Croatia. And not only were those Croatian towns old, they were jammed with tourists. B. and I were the only tourists there, besides a group of Germans that followed us at a safe distance everywhere we walked. Otherwise, it was a very quiet city. There were lots of old men and young girls walking around. Our parking attendant was the old middle aged person either of us saw the entire four hours we walked around.
Everyone was very friendly, however, and willing to help, even if they couldn’t speak English. And with a lot of gesturing, laughing and odd noises, we got to see the town highlights, the Old Town and the bridge.
As I said, there was something quietly unsettling about walking around. I think, looking back, it was the lack of people between the ages of 20-50. It was also probably the fact that just that morning our host in Dubrovnik had been telling us about the horrors of the war. It really did seem palpable in Bosnia in a way that it just didn’t in the places we went in Croatia.
We had to walk pretty far afield to get from the Old Town to the bridge, and we were a little hesitant, but I’m glad we went. We got to see all of the city, not just “downtown,” which I always like. It gives you a good idea of how people live. We passed a municipal pool and people clearly rebuilding a restaurant, which is nice. Definitely signs of regeneration. I was also tickled that pretty much every car looked like the one below:
After walking around Trebjne for a few hours, it was time to hop in the car and head on over to Budva, a seaside resort town in Montenegro. The drive was to wind us up through the mountains and spit us out on the Montenegrin coast. The ride started out beautifully. Literally.
Unfortunately, with about 50 miles to go, we were stopped in standstill traffic- someone had driven off a mountainside and the road was closed. We had to turn around and go through the middle of the country, up through the most treacherous mountain roads I’ve ever driven, and almost straight down a mountain- talk about hairpin turns!- to get to Buda. I’ve attaching a bit of the map so you can see the route we took.
The worst part was that most Montenegrin people are used to the roads, so would speed past at 100km/hr. It was petrifying.
So I was mighty glad when we arrived in one piece- and tired. I fell asleep as soon as we got to our hostel. The next day I had to take it easy, too- my knuckles still hurt from gripping the wheel so hard! So it was a beach day.
The beach is actually a bit of a ways away from the main city center, so we took a little hike along the water, which offered some beautiful views of land and sea and mountains and…well, take a look and you can see for yourself.
And since we only had two full days in Budva, we rounded out the afternoon with a wander through the city, which is a walled fortress, now familiar to us from our travels through Croatia.
An old fresco above one of the city entrances.
Probably my favorite place in Budva was the old fort, which you can now fully tour. The view from the top is phenomenal.
As is the sunset from below…
The day we left, we had a five hour drive back to Split to catch our flight home. For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to start the day super early with a hike up a mountain in Kotor to soak in some views.
It all started with a quick turn around the town in the early morning light.
And then a quick drive across the bay to the mountain.
We hiked for about two hours to summit.
As those of you who know me know too well, I am not a big fan of hiking but with views like this who could complain?
After that we had to haul it back to Split- I was going 150km in some places- to catch our flight at 4pm. We barely made it, but we got home somehow. I liked having to rush back, it made me less sad because I didn’t have to think about the fact that I was leaving one of the most beautiful areas of the world I’ve ever seen.