Do you ever get the sensation of being at home, even when you might be far away? Sarah calls it nostalgia. I get it often. Sometimes it's a California smell or someone on the street who looks familiar. This weekend it was a place. My first impression of Montenegro moved me to tears. Literally. I was sitting in the middle of the backseat with eyes spilling over. Have you ever driven north on the 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara and then past Santa Barbara toward Santa Maria? Imagine that with the charm and seduction of Eastern Europe (or just subtract the Spanish influence). I'm in love with Montenegro. In fact, it seems like a good place to make a real estate investment.
Our driver stopped the car because we were all jumping up and down in the back seat. (Different driver than Hassan. We met this one close to the border when we got off the minibus. He was EXCELLENT and hooked us up with his friends who rent rooms. Only 10 euros a night!) Anyhow, he has a daughter around our age and was completely fatherly.
I was getting kind of giddy. You can tell by my overly excited smile. Have I mentioned how much I love Montenegro? Anyhow, we were thrilled about a girls weekend and decided to give out Sex in the City name assignments. I'm now officially the Charlotte of the bunch.
We arrived in Budva which is a town on the coast. It was quiet because we came in the off season. Our "hotel" was an apartment attached to a house. Most families have rooms or apartments to rent. It was very adequate. Of course, the room doesn't matter when you're in a place like this! What do you think of the boats Dad? You can see the yachts in the background too. We stood on the dock looking longingly at a yacht hoping some nice boy would get the idea and invite us up for a drink...didn't happen but girls can dream. What did happen was actually very interesting. We had a delicious night filled with delicious food. The last stop of the evening was at an outdoor bar that played loud, but good music. We were there maybe 30 minutes when this English speaking guy came up to us and said, "Excuse me, but you don't happen to be Irish?" Since he was addressing Tracey she said, "No, Canadian." The guy's response was "Oh thank God you're not Irish or worse, American." Then he and his buddy came and joined us. There names are Will (Scottish) and Tom (English). I was completely not amused by them and didn't honor them with any conversation. (Other than letting them clearly know that I AM an American, thank you very much!) They found out that we were headed the same direction as they were and offered us a ride the next day. I could care less and the other girls didn't think they would follow through, so they accepted the offer.... (remember this post is called first impressions).
So Will and Tom did follow through on their offer and squeezed the four of us into their rental car. We headed off to Kotor. Along the way, we missed the turn off. We all agreed that we wouldn't mind seeing some of the country so we took the long way around the bay. It was a beautiful misadventure. Tom ended up being a very safe and considerate driver who made plenty of sight seeing stops for us. Isn't this stunning?
Here we are! We continued on to Kotor which has a million steps leading up the side of a mountain. Entela told us that the view was amazing so we were eager to go. Our two new friends hadn't been doing much hiking and were glad that Entela knew what to do in Kotor.
High fives at the top. I had totally forgiven the guys for being British snobs and completely enjoyed their company. Tom expressed his concern for the impression that they had given me about detesting American girls, but pointed out that he didn't think I'd be much fun (really, what did he expect? Silent treatments should speak volumes).Here's where we relaxed with fruit and pleasant conversation. The guys gave us riddles and I was able to get 3 of the 5 correct. I missed the math one and the double negative riddle. The riddle Will gave was that biologically he has two birthdays, but he doesn't know one of them....If I got it, I'm sure you can too! It was so nice being with men who speak English and who have a quick sense of humor.
We continued up the bay and found a little fishing village. It was near sunset and the water was striking!The next day, we met the boys for breakfast and then spent some time on the beach. Here is a picture of the Budva water. I'm still a bit disapointed that we didn't have time for swimming. Next time... because there will be a next time.
You can see the walled castle behind us as well as a fabulous cafe where we had drinks both nights. This was an amazing weekend. I was a little sad to leave and head back to Tirana. BUT, Tirana is home and I'm happy to be here too.