The coast of Montenegro is inspiring and magical, and beckons you to stay for a week, a month, forever. The towns and villages are hardy stone communities protected by thick walls and hilltop fortresses. The terracotta roof tiles stand out from the white stone mountain slopes rising high above the water, in steep, uninhabitable slopes. It is stark and so very beautiful; the white slopes falling steeply into the calm blue waters.
I visited a few places along the coast, taking it slowly, reading my book on the beach, meandering though old cities, dodging the throngs of tourists off the cruise ships, and marveling at the great effort, skill and patience it took to build these tremendous stone structures.
My first stop was Budva, an easy place to reach but essentially a cheap and nasty resort town.
Away from the crowded beach I ran and caught a bus to Kotor, on the Bay of Kotor, a large fjord ringed by steep mountains. The Old Town is magical and invokes images of the Venetian heydays, a walled city of winding streets and narrow steps leading up, up, up. High above the city is the fortress whose thick walls run up the rocky slopes to the edge of the canyon, creating a strategic military wonder.
The walk up to the fortress is a long and sweaty one, up stone steps and over crumbling pathways, but the view from the top is worth it. There are a few ways to get up and down, and I came down on a seldom used path on the west side, and had that side of the slope all to myself. Summer is dry here, the grass is yellow, the leaves brittle, and the stone walls of the fortress blend into the dry hillside.
The Bay of Kotor is ringed by many small villages, each squeezed between the sea and mountains, and each a living monument. Perast is one of the these. It breathes history and charm and called me to come in for a coffee, to put up my feet, to enjoy the view of the two monastic islands in the bay and stop for a while.
My suggestion: save up some Euros, find a room with a view of the bay, pack your book, learn how to brew strong Turkish coffee, get yourself here and stay for a while…