The Great Beach Search; Ulcinj, Montenegro

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Ulcinj is famous for 12km of beaches, just before the Montenegro coastline heads into Albania. After numerous blog searches on ‘nice/quiet-ish beaches in Ulcinj…’ we tried one of the private beaches (Miami Beach.) It’s part of Velico (long beach) and was rumoured to be cleaner. We arrived at about 10am and I don’t think I’ve seen crowd of so many thousands of beach-goers even in Rio De Janeiro. So many bodies crammed together it was like a (less good-looking) version of Kylie Minogue’s Slow video. At $20 euros return can fare from the old town (15 mins) and $6 euros a pair of sunlounger it’s an expensive day too. It wins points for having actual sand to run your toes through (a rarity in Croatia / Montenegro.)

We also tried a hidden place on the cliffs 50m down past an abandoned hotel in the Stari Grad. There’s a small staircase in the castle walls, where you can hear the music before you round the corner. It’s more of a cliff side bar than a beach, with loungers scattered at different levels. The breeze is nice, but makes the waves quite strong as they smash against the rocks. It’s a cool place for sunset, or for an hour whilst they belt out Beyoncé’s back catalogue. They lost me when the music turned to loud Euro-dance. And also when the barman tried to palm off a non-alcoholic Becks to us. Cheeky.

Our next choice was a small beach 10 mins walk just under the cliffs from the old town cemetary. This turned out to be the best for swimming, and small but not so crowded. The only downside was the violent shingle stones, which are pretty impossible to enjoy with out Crocs and a camping mat to lay on, as the locals did expertly. I’m just not convinced there’s ever an excuse for Crocs though.

I admit, living in SE Asia with the Philippines and Thailand as contenders, we’re complete beach snobs. Plus it’s Europe in the 1st week of August – ‘quiet’ was always going to be unlikely. After 3 days, the eventual winner has to be the most obvious; ‘Small beach’ right in the heart of Ulcinj – just at dusk when the hords have left and there’s no-one left on it.

Where we stayed: The amazing Dulcinea restaurant/guesthouse in the old town, 25 Euros. We found it by chance when the owner’s son saw us in a bar with our backpacks and adopted us into their beautiful home and terrace.

 

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Scepan Polje, Durmitor National Park

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We booked a rafting tour through Old Town Hostel Kotor and headed up to the National Park as a day tour (74 euros). It’s a winding 3 hour drive each way, with some pretty spectacular views that give Lake Bled a run for its money on neon blue water. The white water is apparently level 2 – 3; enjoyable with a few drops & splashes. With river temperatures of 4 degrees you wouldn’t necessarily want to fall in, even with a wetsuit. After the travel, a nice breakfast & lunch, you spend about 2.5 hours on the water. The best bit was during a waterfall stop when our guide casually remarked that we were in Bosnia! Apparently border control is pretty relaxed on the Montenegro / Bosnia border since we had no passports. A shame, as I’d love to add ‘raft’ to my list of border crossings.

The Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit gutted to learn that despite being set here, Casino Royal didn’t film a single scene in Montenegro, but it’s a beautiful spot nonetheless. The old town of Kotor is a slightly larger labyrinth than its Croatian rival. We take a different route to our pension apartment each time. Just outside the city walls on the edge of the fjord there’s a sad but cool abandoned hotel – which I always find creepily intriguing. There’s a few pics online from bloggers that have snuck inside. Most people sunbathe on the concrete slab steps just in front of the old pool but wisely choose to swim in the much clearer fjord water. I’d love to say I climbed up the famous mountainside fortifications (the crumpling European version of the Great Wall of China) but at 1350 steps I just admired it from below.

Where we stayed; Vicky apartment – a quiet stone family pension 30 secs from the bus station (35 euros) on booking.com. Then 2 nights in an amazing old Stari Grad apartment ($35 euros) booked through Vizin travel in the main square.

 

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

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