July 6 & 7 2012 - Travel and sightseeing in Budva
Everyone felt it. It could have been written in stone. Summer would not come to Norway this year.
And with this knowledge, 2 foggy and rainy weeks in northern Norway did not seem so tempting after all. One year ago, we faced exactly the same dilemma. The solution to the problem then was to go to sunny Bulgaria for a week, and hope that the weather improved up north when we returned. That was a success. Why not repeat the procedure this year?
Anne is a wizard when it comes to these things, and within no time, a trip to Montenegro had been booked. Rental car included. We needed to raise our knowledge bar from zero on this country and while Anne ordered maps and books, I found a downloadable map for my handheld GPS and started to identify interesting peaks. And Good Golly Miss Molly, there were a few!
On July 6th, I drove from Sunnmøre to Hov (Søndre Land) and met with Anne, coming directly from Kristiansand. The driving distance from Sunnmøre to Hov was 500km. This number would grow to 3300km within the next two weeks...
The plane was scheduled for departure from Gardermoen at 07am. The charter company told us to be there 3 hours in advance - 04am. This meant that we had to drive from Hov 2am. Anne's plan was that we would camp on her mom's terrace. We would sleep in our sleeping bags with a tent stretched out as a roof, and leave quietly in the middle of the night. If it hadn't been for the rain that set in at midnight (and the collapsing tent), this could have been a nice start of the vacation...
20 minutes past midnight, I sat in my car - waiting for the clock to strike 2am while complaining about my misery on Facebook...
Check-in went like a charm. 17 minutes after arrival at the airport, we were fully checked in. I was so incredible tired, but it's impossible for me to sleep at an airport. However, I'm actually quite good at staring at a monitor for hours without a single thought in my head...
We landed in Tivat 10am and got an instant heat shock. It was a million degrees Celcius outside and the tiny airport was completely packed with tourists in their respective lines and queues. Mostly Russians, it seemed like. It took us a little while to find the Europacar office (located in the departure hall, of course...) but half an hour later we had the keys to our brand new red Golf. Effectively, "TOURIST!" was "painted" all over the car.
Now we had to focus on a) where is the city (Budva), b) where is the hotel and c) where can we park the car. We quickly found the correct road, but had to turn around after 5 minutes since we had forgotten the car GPS (which we had booked and paid for). 10 minutes later, we were once again on our way to Budva with our antennas wide open.
My first reflection was on the traffic; it seemed more "relaxed" than in Bulgaria. Two lanes were effectively two lanes (and not three like in Crete), there were few hazardous overtaking episodes and there was little honking. Once in Budva, Anne did a phenomenal job in finding the hotel. The owner said that we could park just outside the gate, which was a fantastic bonus!
The room was just fine. There were two similar-sized rooms - one living room (with air condition) and one bed room. Then there was a large balcony, a small kitchen and bathroom. No extravaganza, but very OK. It was due time to go to the local shop, get a beer and pronounce that the summer of 2012 was officially on!
I was way too tired to even start thinking about mountains, so day 1 would be nothing but recreation day. Anne didn't mind at all. We went down to the beach - which was completely packed with tourists - as far as the eye could see! Thousands! And I've never even heard of this place!
It was interesting to see that there were very few tourists from western Europe. It seemed that most of them came from Russia, Ukraine and neighbor countries. We started learning the basic tourist expressions; dobre jutro (добре јутро), dobre vece (добре веће), etc.
Then it was time to hit the water! And the temperature was ... O.m.i.g.o.d!
Next on the to-do list was a visit to the old town of Budva. It was a 20-minute walk from our hotel, and we passed one million (I counted every one of them) souvenir shops along the way. There was absolutely no reason to get bored on the beach, and almost every form of water activity/sport was there for hire. Paragliding from a boat seemed nice...
Rich folks come here too. I could tell by the yachts. The old town was a bit boring. I hadn't read myself up on the town's history (shame on me) so I wasn't really sure what I was being a part of. I was still dog tired, hot and hungry. A stop by one of the many pizza stores solved #3 on my issue list...
After sightseeing, it was time for dinner. I didn't have any particular expectations here in the middle of the colossal tourist area, but we found a table by the water which was just great. And the service from our waiters was first class too. And when the food tasted great, the meal earned its rightful place in the history book...
Life was very good. After dessert and coffee (OK - I accept that I won't get Norwegian-style coffee in this country), we strolled along the beach and reflected on the long day that had been. We returned to the hotel just past 10pm - 12 hours after landing and 20 hours after leaving Hov.
We knew we would have some great adventures ahead of us, but at this point we could only imagine how it would be like. But when we left Budva one week later, we had seen a whole lot of the country and climbed the following peaks;
Note: Bobotov Kuk seems to be official high point in Montenegro, as it's completely within the country borders. However, Zla Kolata (2535m), Dobre Kolata (2526m) and Maja Rosit (2524m) are recognized as higher peaks, but (alas) located on the Albanian border.
Individual trip reports will come in the coming weeks...
The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 60D + Canon EF-S 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 IS
(Full size images)
(Images scaled down.
Gurskøya - Hov, July 6 2012
Budva, Montenegro, July 7 2012
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