“when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
— paulo coelho —
why do we do what we do every day? we get up early, sit in traffic for hours on end on our way to work, to then turn around and go home after a long day and barely have enough energy to make dinner, or for me, to entertain my crazy bulldog who requires more attention than most humans. then the weekend finally arrives and we spend our time running errands, standing in line and fighting traffic once again because you and thousands of others are all going to costco at the exact same time, on the exact same day. what the hell is it all for? to work until you’re 65 so you can retire and then finally start enjoying your life. no thanks.
i get up every day and do what i do so i can give myself the opportunity as often as possible to experience those moments that literally take your breath away. i’m talking about those special minutes, hours or days that you will remember for the rest of your life. the ones that you dream of, the ones that make you smile even on the gloomiest of days. i am lucky, i have had a few of those moments in my life and my trip to montenegro was one of them. i have always wanted to visit this country on the adriatic and i wish i had a better initial reason other than when casino royale was remade and came out in 2006 the casino scene was shot in montenegro, and anyone who knows me knows i love james bond. for whatever reason since then i decided i absolutely had to visit this country i knew nothing about at some point in my life. as i was planning my conquest of europe i was hoping my final country would be montenegro so i could celebrate my 51st country like a total baller at the aman resort in sveti stefan but the stars were not alined for me (by stars i mean lack of trains and terrible bus and flight schedules) so montenegro became country 49….but as with james bond, those who know me best know that once i have something in my head i’m going to find a way to do it anyway, so 49 was going to be treated like 51, aman sveti stefan here i come. 49 is the new 51 and you only live once.
i arrived in montenegro’s capital city, podgorica, after a bus ride from hell from albania ready to be wowed….and wowed i was. just the drive alone from podgorica to sveti stefan was filled with beautiful sights and breathtaking views. it was coastal mountain splendor at its finest. the stuff dreams are made of. as i approached budva, sveti stefan’s partycentric neighbor (and where casino royale was filmed), the mountainous terrain gave way to bright blue seas and a setting sun. nothing short of magic for someone who would give up their first born to see a magnificent sunset.
so off i went like a baller in a tinted out black audi with a driver and a guide, both locals from the area. i spent the 45 minute drive chatting with them, asking questions about the country, how it has developed over the past 10-20 years, wondering where they spend their holidays and of course what they thought about casino royale. we exchanged stories, laughed a lot and had a really great drive. i rarely do tours and i never have guides with me, but this proved to be a really wonderful memorable experience.
as we winded our way up to the view point over kotor bay i started to get really excited. i didn’t know what to expect and i certainly was not prepared for its beauty. we were the only people up at the view point and it was quiet, peaceful and absolutely stunning.
the coastal town of kotor is surrounded by 15-17th century fortifications built during the venetian period. the area is considered to be the southern most fjord in europe, and as a fjord lover i do have to say kotor has given norway a run for its money. sorry guys. kotor also has an amazing preserved medieval old town with walkways winding around the hills above to old forts and looks-outs from centuries past. it was amazing and truly one of the most incredible places i have seen in my life. we went in churches, walked around the town walls, walked through the open squares and followed tiny pathways crisscrossing the city. the weather was perfect and i was in love.hallstatt vibes. also located in the bay of kotor, this village was charming, idyllic and everything that makes me happy in this world. my guide, knowing the only boat guy working that day, convinced him to take us to one of the two small islands off the coast of the town (one of them, sveti dorde has a beautiful little monastery but cannot be visited by tourists). we pulled up to the island, gospa od skrpjela, for a quick tour and a history lesson. gospa od skrpjela, or our lady of the rocks, is the only artificially built island in the adriatic and was built upon a rock in 1452 after two venetian sailors unexpectedly found a picture of virgin mary on it. since it’s founding, each time sailors would return from a successful voyage at sea they would go to the island and place a rock in the bay for luck. this is a tradition that still continues to this day in an event called fasinada, where residents take to their boats every july 22nd and throw rocks into the bay off the island’s coast. a pretty little side trip that was well worth leaving the resort for.
my last order of business was to take a little walk around the area because i couldn’t possibly leave without some sort of solo exploration. as i wandered a short distance from sveti stefan, i stumbled upon a tiny finishing village called plaža pržno that was just as picture perfect as the views i just left. there were little inns and restaurants along the small beach, and as the sun finally set over the horizon i couldn’t have asked for a more magical trip to magnificent montenegro. this place is special. it makes my heart soar, my eyes fill with happy tears and makes me want to tell the world how amazing this country is. from the people to the historic towns and villages, to the mountains and the beaches, just go. seriously. i have one more country to write about before i close out europe and without a doubt montenegro has won my heart.