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Montenegro – a Dreamland



The writer falls in love with Montenegro’s high mountains, densely forested national parks and picture-perfect coastline.

“So, where are we going next?” I asked Vijay, as we pored over the map on our netbook. We were two months into our backpacking trip across West Asia and Eastern Europe and were having a great time in Croatia, admiring the gorgeous Adriatic coast. As we contemplated our next move, a local friend suggested we stop at Montenegro on our way to Greece. We had barely heard the name of this European country but were eager to check it out.

The bus ride from Dubrovnik to Kotor in Montenegro cost €14 each. It began with the impressive fortified town of Dubrovnik jutting out into the Adriatic Sea and, as we entered Montenegro, we drove along the blue sparkling coast, small seaside towns and occasional tiny islands.

Montenegro is a small country in south-eastern Europe. Once part of Yugoslavia, it suffered a tragic civil war in the 1990s. Recently it is back in the news as a potential tourist destination thanks to a terrain that ranges from high mountains, densely-forested national parks to a picture-perfect coast. Indians need a pre-arranged visa to enter the country, but holders of a valid U.S. passport or Schengen visa may transit for up to seven days without a visa. So if you are travelling across Eastern Europe include Montenegro in your itinerary.

As we passed Dobrota, the bus pulled into a picturesque bay with stunning views at each bend. Kotor is a small coastal town — more than 2000 years old — located at the edge of the mountain-rimmed Kotor bay, which was a strategic defence centre for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its Old Town is contained within city walls and is a fine example of a well-preserved medieval town.

After checking into a friendly hostel, we set out to explore. After walking around the Old Town and admiring its many cathedrals and palaces, we reached the Upper Town Walls. The 1350 steps can be climbed in a little more than an hour. Our climb was a breeze; we had for company a doctor from San Francisco and a couple from Istanbul. The best views of the town and the bay are along the fort walls. At the top of the ramparts is the fortress of Saint John.

Kotor has a surprisingly loud night life. Most of the quaint little alleys have cafes, bars and night clubs. Some of the hostels organise free pub tours too. Just a day in Kotor and we fell in love with the place.

The entire country is a dreamland. Budva, Perast and the capital city Podgorica are a few other places worth seeing. Unlike many other Eastern European countries, Montenegro has adopted the Euro as its official currency. Surprisingly, it’s not heavy on your pockets as its western counterparts. Of all the Balkan nations we went to, Montenegro turned out to be one of the best.

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