When Imogen told me that she was going to Montenegro, I begged her to write a blog post for me reviewing her stay there. Balkan is really cool and if you guys get a chance to go, I highly recommend it.
So here it goes, a post by Imogen:
If you ever fancy going off the beaten track or even to bask in luxury then I can thoroughly recommend Montenegro. Next door and similar to Croatia but not spoilt by too many tourists, it’s a real breath of fresh air.
I was incredibly lucky to go with a friend who works for a luxury travel company – who was originally travelling out on a work trip and offered me the chance to tag along.
We flew in to Dubrovnik in Croatia and hired a car to drive the rest of the way. Trust me when I say it’s the easiest drive. Turn left out the airport, just keep driving and soon you are through the border and in Montenegro. I warn you though, be prepared for their driving. Normal road rules do not apply. They drive in the middle of the road, indicators are never used and they love to overtake on a blind bend whilst smoking. Continuously smoking!
The first night was spent in Budva in Hotel Avala. But that was a brief stay as the next morning we were up and out kayaking on Skadar Lake. We met our guide Ben from the undiscovered Montenegro in the town of Vizpanar and he took us the rest of the way. The route we took was 7km and the first stop was an island inhabited by monks where we had lunch on the hill of fresh bread, cured meats and cheese. In the afternoon we visited the nuns who quenched our thirst with fresh pomegranate juice. This place is truly beautiful and we were incredibly lucky to have amazing weather to see it at its best.
For those of you of like to read the tat on daily mail online you would have seen that Novak Djokovic got married in Montenegro in the summer in a beautiful little town called Sveti Stefan. The hotel that hosted this was our next stop. The Aman Sveti Stefan is situated on its own island and was a 14thCentury fishing village. We turned up wet, bedraggled and smelly from kayaking to one of the world’s best hotels!
That evening we dolled ourselves up and had a candle lit dinner with Montenegrin wine. The food was truly delicious but does not fully represent the traditional foods eaten out there.
The next day we decided to relax and spent the morning on the beach, swimming in the sea, before a full body massage. After all, it had be an action packed 48 hours. I am not the biggest fans of massages but the masseuse I had was great albeit the commentary on how many knots and bruises I had!
That evening we went wine tasting at a local vineyard. This was our first real taste of Montenegrin traditions. We were made to drink a shot of brandy (50%) before the tasting session. Apparently this cleanses the palate – In my opinion it burnt my throat and I was drunk before the wine section of the tasting began. Luckily our host provided us with homemade cheese and ham to keep us going. The wine was good but does not compare to the French reds, but it was interesting to hear how they are made.
I could go on and on about all the places we visited and the activities we did. However, I feel I should skip to our last stop. Porto Montenegro – this is the St Tropez of the Adriatic. A big complex with a 5 star hotel called the Regent which was our home for the last two days. The hotel has a nautical theme and was only opened this summer so we were giving it its maiden voyage so to speak. It did not disappoint, the moment we arrived they presented us with homemade chocolates and macaroons with a bottle of wine. We polished these off very quickly and went to investigate the rest of the complex which consisted of a large marina, bars, restaurants and luxury shops. Finding a bar on the waterfront, we proceeded to drink and eat the night away. If you like glitz and glamour this place is perfect.
The locals are wonderful. Despite any language barriers they will put themselves out there to help and the overall service standards are above the norm – quite refreshing. The food is amazing as it’s all organic. I truly fell in love with the country and would recommend it to the more active of my friends as its great place for hiking, kayaking, rafting, and sailing. Even better it’s only a two hour plane journey from London to Dubrovnik or if you want to fly direct then you can go to Tivat or Podgorica.
I will leave you with one thing that we noticed – if there is a rule or a law the people of Montenegro will always find a way around it!