Montenegro trip part 2 – Boat Tour and Budva

Hello everyone,

In my last post I was telling you about the first part of our vacation in Montenegro, in which we stayed in Kotor. Today is time to talk a little bit more about our experience in this beautiful country.

Kotor Bay Cruise

In Kotor we spend 4 out of our 7 days of vacation. One of those days we decided to take a whole-day boat trip around Kotor Bay. There is a lot of different options and offers that you can find only walking through Kotor, so it is not necessary to book it in advance. However, if you would like to visit Kotor during high season, I would highly recommend booking in advance. I am the type of person that likes to have everything planned, so I found and book a Kotor Bay Cruise run by the 360Monte travel agency. I think that was the best choice ever.

We started our tour at 10:30 in Kotor where we boarded the boat, where the captain together with our guide welcomed us with a glass of wine. According to 360Monte, the boat can take 19 people in every tour, but we were lucky and with us there were only 8 people, so we had a comfortable trip with a lot of space for everyone.

The boat was very comfortable with some sun beds in the front, sitting area in the middle as well as a sun deck on the roof where you could take sun or read a book on comfortable bean bag chairs.

Welcome drink
Perast from the boat

The tour was planned very well. Our first destination was the Blue Cave, being it the farthest point of the whole journey. On our way there, while enjoying the weather and the peaceful environment, we passed by a small town near Kotor called Perast. Our guide told us the story about the fortress that we could see above the town. According to him, this fortress was built to protect the town from pirates coming through Kotor Bay who wanted to plunder and/or destroy it – so they would never succeed.

After Perast we saw The Lady of the Rock island which we visited as a last stop. Herceg Novi and many more small towns around Kotor Bay were also in our way to the Blue Cave.

After around four hours, we reached the Blue Cave. Unfortunately, the weather changed, and we didn’t have chance to see the magic blue water (due to lack of sun light), so this is still not checked on my bucket list ;). (I have a reason to come back to Montenegro in the close future). Back to the topic! We couldn’t see the magic of the Blue Cave, but our Captain took us next to another small cave, where volunteers could swim in.

That was not the end of our travel experience with 360Monte tour. On our way back, we went to see the submarine tunnels that the military used to hide submarines from enemy’s airplanes during the war in 2006. That is part of Montenegrin history. The part of the history that they are not open to talk about. I think that it is an interesting experience to see that amazing engineering work. Here again we had a short stop, so whoever wanted could go to the water and explore the tunnel themselves. I am the type of person that is always cold, so I stayed on the boat ;).

Military submarine tunnel
The Lady of the Rock

Our last stop on the journey was the island called The Lady of the Rock. It is an island made by people from the surrounding towns where, according to a legend, two brothers found a painting of Madonna with Child. One of them was sick and after they took the painting home he became miraculously healed. After that incident it became a tradition to throw a stone there every time someone came back safely after a voyage. People also started to sink old ships to help build the island, where now is placed a Catholic Church and a museum (Don’t forget proper clothes when going to the church! Bikinis are not permitted!). Every year in July 22nd there is a boat procession to The Lady of the Rock to celebrate the day of the miracle there. (This is the next point in my bucket list – to visit Kotor on this day). The whole day boat trip cost us around 50 Euro per person.

Budva - the city that never sleep

Our perfect time in Kotor, with beautiful mornings on our balcony and cozy old town nearby, came to an end. It was time to move forward in our journey to the next town – Budva.  Our host from the accommodation in Kotor offered us a ride to Budva to our accommodation there. It took around 40 min and we paid around 20 euro. Don’t forget to have your camera ready while you go on this road. The view is amazing!

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The view from The Lighthouse Apartments

Accomodation in Budva - Lighthouse Apartment

Our room in Budva

After a 40-minute drive we had arrived in our accommodation: Lighthouse Apartments. This accommodation is located around 2.5 km from Budva, almost on the top of a hill, so prepare yourselves for some training ;).  We didn’t want to stay in central Budva, because we were looking for peace and a beautiful view, and this accommodation provided us with precisely those things. The room was simple, with a small kitchenette and a private bathroom.  The bed was comfortable, with direct view to the open sea, and both the room and the common areas were clean. There was also a barbecue place in the facilities, so we didn’t need to cook so much inside.

The only minus of this accommodation was that it is kind of far from the nearest store, as well as from the other attractions, if you don’t have a car. We could see from our windows the most popular beach in Budva, but unfortunately there are no walking paths going there, so you need to go through one of the busiest roads in Montenegro. It is a different story when going to Budva. It takes around 20-30 minutes walking to get there, and there is a sidewalk the whole way (with a small section within a tunnel, so prepare your phone or other sources of light).

The view from the bed
Sebastian

Ever since the first moment in Lighthouse Apartments we felt like in home. I think that it’s the owners’ praise for their tenants. Jasna and her husband are very warm people, with open hearts and it just feels like home hospitality. There was also Sebastian the cat, whom became my friend since the first day J. I am sure that I will come back to Lighthouse Apartments the next time I will visit Budva, when I am planning a road trip with my family.

This part of our holiday was mainly to relax, so we didn’t plan anything special. We spent our days walking around, eating good food and drinking mojitos. Budva’s Old Town is a beautiful place with many good restaurants, coffee places, and beach bars. We didn’t explore so much of Budva’s new areas, because this it is not our thing. However, if you like shopping and night life probably Budva will catch your heart and wallet ;).

That is everything about our Anniversary Trip to Montenegro. I hope you enjoyed it with me! The whole trip costed us around 1500 – 1700 Euro (include everything, without thinking to much about the budget in Montenegro)

Our next trip will be LONDON BABY!!!!

See you on the road,

Kaja  

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Montenegro!! Dreams come true!

The idea about spending our holiday in 2018 in Montenegro came from one of my projects in school. As you know, I’m studying to become a travel agent, and I had to prepare a selling presentation about Montenegro for a future customer.

After going through a significant amount of information about this amazing and still unexplored place, I felt in love with it. Then it became my next goal, to visit Montenegro and check if it is as amazing in reality as it is  in the pictures, so the planning process started. (I will cover in one of my future posts how I plan my trips and how I usually find money for them).

How to get to Montenegro

After weeks of planning and going through different options, we decided to take a flight from Skavsta Airport to Podgorica on May 27th. The flight was operated by Ryanair, and it took around 3 hours to get there. Maybe that isn’t the most comfortable way to go to Montenegro from Sweden, but I am sure it is the cheapest and the only one going non-stop to Podgorica ;). If you are ready to pay more, there are plenty of airlines flying to Podgorica, Tivat or even Dubrovnik as Turkish Arlines, SAS, or Air Serbia for example.

Going around in Montenegro

There are many options to move around in Montenegro. You can rent a car (the roads are good, but remember that you will drive around mountains), use the local buses or just take a taxi.

Taxis are cheap and there are different taxi companies with different prices. One tip that we got from the landlord where we stayed is to always ask first about the price before starting the ride.

We decided to go by taxi because I am not a good driver and I am sure that driving there will bring only a lot of stress to us. From Podgorica Airport we took a company called Taxi Podgorica Airport. I found them trough TripAdvisor and I have to say that both me and my boyfriend were very satisfied with the service. A friendly driver welcomed us at the airport, even after our flight being delayed. The car was fresh, clean and comfortable. The ride from Podgorica to Kotor, where we spent our first days, lasted around 1 hour 30 min and cost 55 euros.

Kotor - A place where I will come back

The first town that we decided to visit was Kotor. This magical small town from the 13th century is located in the south-west part of Montenegro with direct connection to the Mediterranean Sea through the Kotor Bay.

This historical place and its beautiful architecture captivated us from the first moment. We reached the town during night, and the first thing we saw  was the lights going up through the mountain on the city walls.

Accommodation in Kotor

We stayed in Bella Vista Apartments for 4 days. The accommodation is really well located right in front of Kotor’s Old Town, so we could see it from the balcony of our room.

It is possible to walk to the Old Town surrounding the Kotor Bay. It took us around 20 minutes. The only  inconvenience was the street where we had to walk, because it was a narrow road without sidewalks and the local drivers are drive pretty fast there. We even came up with a private joke and called it the ¨Suicide Road¨. For people who are not so brave to walk there, there is always the option of taking a taxi that costs only 2-3 euros. Thanks to our friendly host we didn’t have any problem with ordering taxis throughout our whole stay.

My favorite place was our balcony where I spend most of the time reading, drinking morning coffee, or just enjoying breakfast with fresh bread and chocolate milk from the store that was nearby. One day, we even got lucky enough to spot a dolphin swimming in the bay in the early morning :).

Kotor - The town of cats

Montenegro
Montenegro

Kotor is an amazing town with a very rich history and buildings from the 13th century, but is also a paradise for cat lovers. As reflected on the pictures, cats do whatever they want in Kotor, even taking a nap on the chair in a restaurant. Going around you can notice that no one is bothering them and everyone (locals and tourists) just spoil them around. So if you are allergic to cats, don’t forget to bring your medicine with you to Kotor :). As a huge cat lover I was positively surprised that most of cats there looked healthy and in good condition.

Hungry? Here you will find good food!

After long time stressed with both school and work, we decided that our holiday in Montenegro would be without any rush nor specific plans. We were spending our days  walking around, trying local food and desserts, and just enjoying the beautiful weather without worrying about too many tourists.

A holiday in the Mediterranean cannot be complete without a good fish and sea food. One of the culinary specialties in Montenegro is grilled fish with spinach and potatoes. We tried it for the first time in one of the restaurants located on the main square in the Old Town. The owner of the restaurant came to our table with fresh, raw fish on a plate and asked us which one he should grill for us, then served it on our table. I regret not having recorded it, but the guy was very quick and professional in cutting out and serving the fish. The dish tasted really good, and together with local beer it made us happy for the rest of a day.

In my next post I will write more about One Day Cruise with 360Monte around the Kotor Bay and the second part of our holiday in Budva. Check it here!!

See you on the road!

Kaja

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Secret escape from all responsibilities – Weekend Cruise to Riga

After 3 really intense months full of study, work and moving, I decided to pack my backpack and, together with my boyfriend, make a secret escape away from responsibilities.

 

The decision was made, so I started looking for a nice and a cheap place to visit. We didn’t have so much time (only one weekend) and we wanted to see some new place, but also rest. We needed a place close to Stockholm (max 1 hour flight) and a place where the accommodation will not take a whole month’s salary to pay :). As I said before, we had recently moved to a new apartment, so our budget was kind of limited.

After going through several options like a weekend in London (too expensive), a train trip to somewhere in Sweden (too expensive), or even Gran Canaria (too long flight), we decided to take a 40-hour cruise with Tallink Silja Line to Riga. This cruise has everything we were looking for: cheap accommodation for 2 nights, good food, and several hours to explore Riga. PERFECT!

 

Our trip started on Friday at 5 p.m. from Värtahamnen in Stockholm where we boarded the ship. After leaving our things in our cabin, we chose one with window :), it was time to go and take a look at the entertainment plan for the cruise. A huge plus about (most) cruises is that there is something for everyone to do throughout the whole trip. There are different activities such as shopping, life music performances, lotteries, clubs, and special attractions for the youngest travelers like magic shows.

There are several options for meals on the boat. I think that the most popular is lunch or dinner buffet, where you can eat as much as you can and beverages, beer and wine are included for around 33€ per person. However, this time we chose to book a table in one of the restaurants onboard. We chose Grill House, because it is always a good time for a tasty burger, crispy chicken and some power drinks. Dinner for 2 people with one beer and one drink costed us around 50€.

After a not-so-peaceful night – due to the ice-breaking sound when sailing through the Baltic sea in March – we finally reached Riga around 11 a.m. The city welcomed us with a beautiful and sunny weather. We had 6 hours to spend in Riga, so we decided to take a nice walk around the old town and try some local food.

We decided to have lunch in one of the restaurants on the main street in the old town called Fire Wood. We found this place completely by chance. While walking around, a girl working there invited us to try some traditional food and traditional liqueur. She was really friendly and the place looked cozy, so we decided to give it a try. That was a GREAT choice.

 

We followed the recommendations from our waitress and we got two amazing dishes. My dish (above on the left) was some sort of stew with meat, bacon and vegetables baked in a cream sauce (yummy!) My boyfriend got pork ribs marinated in honey with potatoes and some salad. Both dishes were really tasty and not so healthy 😉

We decided to try the local liqueur for a better digestion process (excuses!) called Black Balsam with blackcurrant flavor. In Riga they make a drink based on this liqueur. They mix it with Coca Cola and lemon juice and it is very tasty! The cost of the whole meal (lunch + drinks) was 35€.

While walking around I noticed two things. One was the motive of cats everywhere, and the second one was that I heard a lot of people speaking Russian around. We could not hear the local language around, and because I am a curious type of  person, I asked our waitress before leaving the restaurant why most of people speak Russian instead of Latvian. She told us that after Latvia stopped being part of the Soviet Union, several Russians stayed in the country. In addition, the city was and still is a common summer destination for Russian citizens. According to her half of the inhabitants there have Russian roots.

As I mentioned before, there is a “cat motive” in the city and you can even find plenty of cats around, both real and as art in the city. According to the legend, it all started with a rich merchant called Bloemer, who were angry at Riga’s merchants’ guild because they would not let him join them. He then decided to take revenge on them and built two cats sculptures on the roof of his home (today known as Cat House). The point is that the sculptures are situated in such a way that the cats are showing their tails to the head of the Guild’s windows as a show of disrespect.

An in this way cats became a symbol of Riga. You can find more cat sculptures around the city, different types of souvenirs in every store such as figurines, bags, mugs etc. I even had the pleasure of meeting the Riga Cat next to a souvenir store in the Old Town and have a picture with him 🙂 (down to the right)

After six hours, our time in Riga came to an end and we had to go back to the boat where some more activities were waiting for us. We did not have enough time to visit all the places we wanted in Riga, so I am sure that sooner or later we will come back there to explore some more. Next time maybe by flight to have more time there 😉

Here I would like to say farewell and see you next time on my post about our trip to Montenegro.

 

See you on a road,

Kaja

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