With its location in the deep southern tip of Croatia, Dubrovnik is in an ideal trip for day-tripping to many nearby countries such as Albania & Serbia, however by the far the most popular are trips to Mostar (in Bosnia & Herzegovina) and our personal selection, The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, yet another UNESCO heritage listed locale (we’ve ticked a few more of these brilliant places off the list this trip).
We’d actually booked our trip well in advance of our arrival. So well in advance in fact, that we had yet to book our Dubrovnik accommodation. This had meant that the tour company had not been able to advise the best pick-up location.
Fortunately, with time to wander the day before, we’d found the Adriatic Tours office (tour groups are rarely our first option, preferring local buses, however in some cases like this, they simply don’t run regularly enough or reach as many destinations), who after a quick discussion sorted us out for an 8am collection outside the Hilton hotel (just outside the Old Town).
It wasn’t long after crossing the border that we found ourselves at our first great sight on the bay, Our Lady of The Rocks. This church, perched precariously in the bay, actually sits on a man made island and was a great sight to start our day.
A little further round the bay sat the town that gives this bay its name, Kotor. It provided another stop, and it was here our tour was handed over to a local guide. It may have proven a good tour, had we been able to hear anything. Our local guide had this unfortunate tendency to turn her head away from the group as she spoke, meaning very little was actually heard.
Thankfully the Kotor Stari Grad (old town) was interesting enough for us to enjoy it with a wander at the tours end, and it was made all the more spectacular with the ruins of the San Giovanni Fort which sit perched 4.5km’s above the town (sadly we didn’t have the time to make the climb).
There was time however to sneak in a gelato before we had to go and meet the bus for the next leg of our journey.
We were now on our way to Budva, however before we touched down there for a couple of hours to grab some lunch and see their old town, we had another photo stop, this at the only sight I’d really seen much of already (courtesy of the internet), Sveti Stefan.
This former village, is now a lavish hotel/resort for the wealthy, apparently the cheapest rooms start at 1000 Euro per night! Still, it is a spectacular view of the town we had, which may be as close as we’ll ever get.
It wasn’t much longer before we were sitting on the Budva waterfront, beer in hand and waiting for our lunch to arrive. We dined with a Texan couple who were part of our tour (lovely people I might add) and loaded up on a couple of local specialties, Ćevapčići and another local delight (I bit like a pork Cordon Bleu with prosciutto & Kashkaval cheese).
The pork was sensational, the Ćevapčići, a little bland.
Another quick self tour of the Budva old town followed, another quick wall climb, some lovely shaded cobbled streets and a quick peek at a few tourist packed beaches.
Although not officially used since 2006, many signs in Montenegro are still written a Cyrillic script, very similar to that used by the Russians (Yugoslav ties to the Soviets were strong during the cold war, and even today much Russian money is invested here, as well as many tourists travel here).
Our trip home was shortened (in both distance and time) by the use of a vehicle ferry which got us back to Dubrovnik by 6pm. As it was still early there were plenty of daylight hours remaining, so we thought we’d jump on a local bus and do some reconnaissance in advance of tomorrow mornings departure from the local bus station.
No fewer than 4 buses that depart from outside the old town pass our destination, the main bus station, so we bought our tickets and took the first that arrived, informing the driver of our destination once on board, and took our seats.
The information we had stated the main bus station was only 2km’s from the old town, and it wasn’t long before we expected to be at our destination. Our bus continued on… and on. Still no bus station. When I thought I’d ask the driver how much further, with something of a smirk he informed me it was “10km back down the road”.
I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt,and ask if he could please advise us when we reached the destination on the return leg which he said he would do. Perhaps we were more alert this time, but we had no time spotting the bus station this time so of we got, despite the driver again making no move to tell us we were here.
This is one of the few incidents in all our travels that left me with a slightly sour taste in my mouth, how unhelpful this driver had been, and it felt almost deliberately led us astray.
Nevertheless, we purchased our tickets for the morrow, and with the local bus experience fresh in mind, decided we’d walk the 2km’s back to the old town.
To help relax after a long day, we took in the sunset in a bar perched on the rock face, on the exterior of the old town wall (there are 2 such bars, accessed through narrow gates in the wall).
This was our last night in Dubrovnik, and whilst we were treated to another gorgeous Adriatic sunset, we were even luckier to finish with a most spectacular moonrise to finish our time in Croatia’s deep south.