We’ve only been in Croatia for a day – surely its not time to leave the country just yet? We tossed a coin between a daytrip to Montenegro, and a daytrip to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Technically we will be visiting B&H briefly when we drive through the borders on our way along the coast, so this time around we have pre-booked a day-long trip through Viator, using local company Supertours. Our pick-up is outside the Hilton Imperial Hotel. This is the pick-up point, so it turns out, for all the tour companies, and there is much to-ing and fro-ing, frustrated glances at our ticket and tutting when yet another tour bus turns up that isn’t ours. Eventually though, we are united with the correct minibus, and the correct tour guide, and we’re off, retracing our route back to Dubrovnik airport and beyond.
It turns out that Montenegro is quite stunning. Lakes, mountains, little villages – it almost has an alpine feel to it. Our first stop is at Perast, a tiny but exquisite town on the Bay of Kotor. It’s a town of many churches, with two located on islands in the bay itself. We take the small boat across to Our Lady of the Rocks, which has beautiful views across to its neighbour, the island of St George. Our view of the monastery is however blocked somewhat by the large excursion boat moored at the end of our island. Great positioning lads.
From Perast it’s a short drive to Kotor. It’s no wonder this fortified town has made it onto many “must-see” lists for 2016 – it’s ridiculously pretty, despite – or maybe because of – the mist rolling down from the mountains, and the ever-present threat of rain. The rain does in fact come; however Mr Fletche and I are sheltered under an awning outside a wonderful little café bar serving the local Montenegrin beer at just 1,5 euro each. (Confusingly, Montenegro use the euro, despite not being in the EU. Croatia does not use the euro, but is in the EU.) We don’t have the time today to climb the city walls for what would be beautiful views across the city – plus we have been warned that today’s showers will make for a pretty treacherous path along those 1355 steps – but we leave knowing that we have left plenty of Kotor’s attractions unexplored. The only complaint we had was that our view of “Europe’s southernmost fjord” was impeded by a cruise ship which was the size of a small country. Montenegro for example. In fact, our tour guide told us that some of these ships carry a number of passengers treble that of Kotor’s population.
Our final stop is the seaside town of Budva. I am slightly cynical when our tour guide leads us all to his “favourite” restaurant on the waterfront, Jadran, but a quick peruse of the menu reveals a decent selection of food at decent prices. Plus it has a toilet, which is the main thing I’m concerned about at this particular point in time. All basic needs met – food, drink, toilet – we wander along the waterfront and into the town. I’ll never get bored of tiny little towns with narrow streets and buildings which look like they belong in a model village. And there’s a beach. When we return to the bus our guide is eager for us to tell him what we ate, especially as he had sung the praises of the seafood and particularly the oysters. He gives me that parental “I’m not angry with you, but I am disappointed” look when I told him that I opted for chicken.
Our driver takes us on a quick detour from Budva to see the exclusive Sveti-Stefan island-hotel (a snip at 600 euros a night) and then we’re on our way back to Dubrovnik via a ferry across the Bay of Kotor. However, a hold-up at the border crossing means that our journey back is a long one…we’re stuck behind a whole queue of coaches with no movement ahead for what seems like hours. Eventually we’re back in Croatia, and our driver very kindly does a request stop and lets us out at Ploce Gate for a quick stroll back to the apartment.
There’s the glimmer of hope that there may be a sunset tonight, so we take the cable car which is handily located right behind our apartment. We glide up Mount Srd, and manage to snag a table for a drink on the terrace at the Panorama Restaurant. It’s the perfect time and place to reignite my love for the Aperol Spritz that began in Italy last year. We spend about an hour up at the summit before gliding back down. It’s a short ride in the cable car – less than 4 minutes each way – but definitely one of those things that must be done by tourists in Dubrovnik.
Our final meal in Dubrovnik is at Buffet Kamenice. We’d walked past this restaurant the day before, in a busy square near the “Walk of Shame” steps. We shared (another) octopus salad and fried calamari, and Mr Fletche declared this his favourite meal in Croatia – high praise indeed. The food was delicious, in a lovely setting, service was efficient but unhurried and once again, the prices were reasonable for a touristy area.
And so, our time in Dubrovnik is at an end. I throw my packing cubes back into the suitcase and declare myself packed. Tomorrow we will negotiate how to get two large suitcases up the steps, purchase our airport shuttle bus tickets, and meet the Fletchemobile Mark 3…