We took a day trip from Dubrovnik to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The trip took us along the coast and through the Neretva River delta before we arrived at our first stop, Počitelj- an old town perched on a hillside with cobbled streets, a fortress and an old mosque.
After an amble around the town, we continued onwards to the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Mostar (which translates as bridge keepers). The town is famous for its historic Old Bridge, built during the Ottoman Empire, and for its colourful Bazaar. The town has a slightly Turkish feel to it and is a pleasant place to meander around. In the back of one of the tourists shops near the bridge, you can watch a video of the bombing of the bridge during the Bosnian war in 1992. And bizarrely you can pay local boys to dive off the bridge?! Just streets back from the main tourist areas, bombed out buildings and walls covered with bullet holes are a stark reminder of how recently this area was in the depths of conflict. Being only a child at the time, I did not realise the extent of the horrors that occurred so recently and how quickly the world chooses to forget such atrocities.
We left our hire car in Dubrovnik and took the bus across the border into Montenegro. A journey that should take an hour but due to only one desk open at border control actually took more like three! Montenegro is described by many as Croatia’s slightly uglier, shabbier sister. However, times have changed and it is becoming a destination to visit in its own right. Unfortunately, having the Euro as its currency does mean that comparitively Montenegro does not provide as much value for money as Croatia.
Our first stop was the beautiful old town of Kotor – the old town is a well preserved medieval town with its walls stretching for three miles on a mountainside. We clambered up to the top of the fortifications to get magnificent views over the gulf of Kotor and the surrounding countryside. They say a picture speaks a thousand words….
Our journey continued and we made the decision to hire another car to enable us to visit as many places as possible along our journey:
Tivat – the Monaco of Montenegro. Palm lined waterside walks, huge yachts moored, designer shops and flashy restaurants…a posers paradise!
Budva – a 2500 year old coastal town. Although a little too touristic with lots of souvenir shops and with seemingly uncontrolled town planning (high rise buildings being built left right and centre), the old part of town is still beautiful and the town and neighbouring coasts boast some lovely beaches.
Sveti Stefan – beautiful area with lovely coastal walks, however the iconic island has now been connected to the mainland by a small walkway and is entirely private belonging to an exclusive hotel resort.
Stari Bar – located inland from the new town of Bar is undergoing restoration works. I read a few reviews about a “lost city” tucked away in the hills. However, like everything, tourism has taken over and a large number of shops and restaurants have taken advantage of this site and opened up at the entrance to the small old cities fortifications. I feel mine and Phil’s view of the place was somewhat ruined by the fact that this was the 14th fortress town we had visited on the trip! It was an enjoyable morning activity, but perhaps not worth going out of your way to get to it.
Skadar Lake -our final stop on our trip. We first arrived in the small village of Rijeka crnojevica, which initially appears as a derelict run down town from the road…we were worried about what we would find at our accommodation, however after taking a few steps down to the riverside we were pleasantly surprised. The buildings here have been renovated and a couple of nice restaurants line the riverside. Lake Skadar is a national park that lies on the border of Montenegro and Albania. We enjoyed countryside drives and picnics in the mountain, taking in the magnificent views. We did not take a boat ride, but from our base in the village plenty of boat rides were available and there was no pressure selling as described in other parts of the park.
We were in Montenegro for six days in total, which for us was plenty to see what we wanted. The weather was still warm in late September , although we had some cloudy days so could not enjoy the beach as much. The scenery is spectacular and the country charming, definitely not somewhere I would have thought of going, so I owe Phil for his recommendation!