2nd November to 13th November 2015
Nermin our Host in Montenegro organised his brother Nersit to pick us up from Dubrovnik, Nersit works as a taxi driver during the summer months, so it was a nice smooth and scenic journey to our next apartment, the trip cost 100 Euros which was pretty reasonable for an 8 hour round trip for him.
Journey time from Dubrovnik was just under 4 hours, which included a little ferry trip.
Nermin met us at the apartment and showed us around, it was gorgeous, the apartment is only 2 years old, it was spotlessly clean and very spacious.
Nermin and Nersit are keen to help in anyway they can, like many hosts they’re a little confused by our lifestyle I think, normal tourists are trying to cram everything into their short stays, we are living our day to day lives in different places, we do still do touristy things but only a few and there’s no rush, work and school still have to be a priority.
Our view from the balcony was of a strange ‘rustic’, half used house, the top half looked like it was burnt out, there was also a burnt out old car where the owner kept all his tools. The long haired mechanic who works (and lives?) there fixes chainsaws for a living, he did try to introduce himself to Grant as his brother apparently lives in Australia but the language barrier meant no more info could be exchanged. The sounds of chainsaws being test run became Grant’s unwanted alarm clock (Grant sleeps till midday after working till 4am).
The balcony does get all day sun though so is great to sit out on to soak up the Autumn sunshine!
Daily Tourist tax (Montenegro)
Registration of tourists’ stay with the police is responsibility of accommodation providers, not tourists.
You basically have to pay a daily tax in Montenegro, it is not much at all, but do make sure it has been paid because they can check when you leave, for the 4 of us for 11 days it was around 17 Euros.
Long Beach Celebrating Grant’s Birthday
Nerman delivered some of his mothers delicious traditional baklava for us to have on Grant’s birthday, they’d had it themselves in celebration of the arrival of Nerman’s first son a week before. This was a lovely gesture and we’ll think of Montenegro next time we have baklava!
Early in the afternoon we headed to long beach as Nersit recommended a good fish restaurant right on the sand (where, not coincidentally, his Uncle works in the kitchen) for Grant to celebrate his birthday at.
We went down early afternoon, Grant and Lucas went for a quick swim, the water is still warm enough for swimming in October but the afternoons are short and the wind was a bit chilly at times so they didn’t stay in as long as they might have.
We played in the gorgeous soft grey sand for a long time, drawing pictures, writing messages and Jacob made a kings landing sand castle.
Long beach is 13 kilometers the sand is the softest I have felt, it’s like fine dust.we pretty much had the beach to ourselves apparently in summer you can hardly move for people when the town population jumps from 20,000 to 250,000!
Afterwards we went and sat inside the restaurant `Saranda’, had a few drinks and chatted about everything from old fantasy films to all the places we have been so far, we had a really lovely family afternoon with lots of laughs.
When we were all ready to order dinner, we checked through the menu but Grant already knew he was going to order fish, we watched a beautiful sunset from the restaurant window, had a very awesome afternoon and aside from Jacob not being too happy that they had put mustard on his steak the food was divine, especially the fish and prawns.
The Old Town
Although we really like being in places out of season, you also then can end up in places where everything has closed down and building work starts up getting ready for the next summer, this is what happened to us with the Old town in Ulcinj, I’m sure this old town is just as beautiful as any other old town but we could only sadly see construction work going on, and it’s hard to appreciate the place when you’r picking your way through rubble and workmen.
The New town
The road from the small beach below old town goes up the hill and then down through the centre of the main town, there are shops, restaurants and cafe’s the whole way selling pretty much anything you might need, a few of the more touristy ones had shut but there’s still a lot more than you’d expect in a small town, the town has a very rough and ready feel about it, we described it as being quite similar to Malaysia, all styles of buildings thrown together broken footpaths consisting of a patchwork of pavements and cars angle parked up onto said footpath leaving oil stains.
Apparently in high season the main street becomes a pedestrian zone, we’re not sure if this is by design or necessity but if you do get to use the road as the footpath I would think it would change the urban ghetto vibe to a party town overnight and the reason hundreds of thousands descend on the place makes a lot more sense, in the off season the feeling you missed the party is palpable. After all the people do make the party!
An evening stroll to watch the sunset
The promenade by the small beach is popular with the locals, and it’s quite apparent that the local girls take the meaning of promenade literally and parade themselves up and down trying to catch the right boys eye, with quick glances back to see if they’re looking, quite a laugh to watch for old, by comparison, married couples like us 🙂
In Autumn the sun sets behind the old town but you can head to the southern end of the beach to see it set into the sea, there’s also vacant land on top of the promontory to the left of the beach that can be reached by following the road and steps, more could be made of this spot in our opinion, only when consulting the local tourist map later did we realise this was actually a ‘park’ it had no feeling of being a park when we were there.
Watching the sun setting soon became our favourite thing to do, in all the places we have been to we had partial views of the sun, still beautiful, but here in Montenegro we can watch the whole sun set into the ocean, it really is quite stunning…
Day trip to the Mountains
Nersit took us for a scenic drive to the mountains and for a view of Shkoder lake, we drove past orange, red and yellow autumn coloured tree’s, through leafy tunnels of autumn coloured chestnut trees like in the English countryside. We would easily say that this was our highlight of our stay, the views of Shkoder lake were amazing, the lake was huge, the day we went there was no wind at all and it was a tiny bit foggy (fog and/or smoke this was Autumn after all and everyone was chopping wood and warming their homes with fires each night) the haze did add to the the dramatic look.
We stopped for photos and could have been there twice as long and not got every photo opportunity, Nersit was happy to stop whenever we asked but even then we let some stunning shots go by in the confusion of which way to look. The countryside villages, stone walls, autumn colours, traditional hay stacks and a chocolate brown mountain goat that stood proudly in front of an awe inspiring vista right until the camera was passed over and turned on then disappeared immediately.
From what little we saw our advice to anyone in the area is to go and explore the mountains and in land villages, a local like Nersit can show you enough to fill your photograph album, actual photographers could have a literal field day.
If you are in Montenegro in Autumn you must check out the autumn colours in the hills and you could even collect Chestnuts by the side of the road as we did, Lucas especially enjoyed this bit.
It took us a while to actually cook these chestnuts, when we finally did not sure we did the best job, a few just popped like popcorn, but the ones that did come out tasted good, Grant described them as tasting like sweet potato? I’m not sure how I would describe them but they were nice. I had got some Baklava from the shops the day before and had lots of the syrup left over so poured that all over them, Lucas thought they were delicious.
Our last evening in Ulcinj
As a side trip on our way to our last evening out Nersit took us to show us his workplace, i.e. the ocean and where he and his father launch their boat each day, there were also these great hanging nets which the fisherman lower to the bottom and raise ever 5 minutes or so to snatch a few fish at a time, they weren’t in use when we were there but they make for great photo’s, there is a cliff top path here that you can follow all the way to town, Nersit assures us the views are brilliant but the sun was setting on our last day and dinner awaited so we’ll have to add that to the list of things we should have done, (there’s always the next time around!)
Restaurant Saranda was so good we decided that we would go again for our last night’s dinner, this time we all had fish, but 4 was too many really, 3 would have been perfect lesson learned! Nermin and Nersit’s Uncle was the cook and these were some of the best pan fried whole fish we’ve had, doesn’t hurt that they caught in nets you can see from the restaurant window, fresh is best!
One evening Nermin brought over some baklava to try.
It is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.
What does it taste like?
Like the most moist, divine dessert, something you just have to try especially whilst in Montenegro.
Thank you to Nermin and Nersit who were both very sweet.
Our Apartment was spotlessly clean and spacious, we had two bedrooms, good size living room with large dining and kitchen area, nice bathroom with good shower, good internet and close to everything, (supermarket on the ground floor of the building), we were very comfortable there.
If you do need accommodation in Ulcinj I would recommend this apartment.
Cost NZ$681 for 11 nights (292.39 pounds)