About 15 years ago I was a poverty stricken backpacker (may be a little dramatic!) travelling through the former Yugoslavia. I remember being on a bus from Croatia to Serbia and looking out the window to some water that looked amazing. I asked where it was and was told Montenegro. So when we were planning our ‘big big holiday’ it was always going to feature.
After I re-joined the family following my jaunt to London we jumped on the overnight ferry (car and all) to Split, Croatia. It was our first time “cruising” as a family. I had gone all out and booked us an inside 4 berth cabin (it was one step up from sleeping on the deck). The kids thought it was amazing. We had 2 sets of bunks where you could nearly roll from one top bunk to the other (there was so little space in between). Piper was even more excited that it had a supermarket and a restaurant. We chowed down on our first Cevapi and then hopped into our bed. Have I mentioned our room was as small as a Ryanair exit row?
After a good nights sleep by all we woke up in Croatia excited about what lay ahead. We drove straight down to our next stop Kotor, Montenegro and checked into our latest apartment. It was an interesting 14 hours for the kids as we actually visited 4 countries. We started in Italy, arrived in Croatia, crossed the border into Bosnia & Herzegovina before arriving in Montenegro. It would be the 24th bed the kids would lay their head in so far this trip. Piper loved the apartment as it had a pool, even though it was empty. The apartment had a stunning view of the beautiful Bay of Kotor. Montenegro is a pretty new country, only officially breaking away from Serbia and declaring independence in 2006. Here are the top 5 things we did in Montenegro:
1. Ate seafood on the water (3 different restaurants!). Literally you could throw an olive pip from the table into the water. When I say literally, I did. The kids chowed down with us on fish soup, grilled squid and fish all for bargain basement prices.
Piper and Evie – You can’t take Heavy D anywhere. Here we are sitting at a beautiful restaurant and he’s trying to throw things in the water. He thought he was so funny, he wasn’t. Lucky mum didn’t see.
2. Checked out the “Blue Grotto” from nearby Herceg Novi. We drove round and round trying to find the port to catch a boat. After 23 wrong turns, reversing 200 metres up the street while the kids yelled ‘Why are we going backwards?!’ and 14 car arguments we found the port. We paid a local dude, Tomislav to take us out on his boat. The water was amazing and we cruised along with Tomislav’s tunes blaring – Europe, Final Countdown was the pick. The water was amazing. Less talk, more photos.
3. Checking out Budva and surrounding beaches. It was here we congratulated ourelves on choosing not to stay here. It had a little bit of 90’s Gold Coast about it. (Actually 90’s Gold Coast was schoolies…ahhh schoolies, best 5 years of my life). Let’s say it had a bit of late 80’s Gold Coast about it. A bit tacky, a bit high-rise. We were happy to come back to our little waterside town in the mountains.
4. Driving in Kotor. The town itself is situated around a fjord of sorts. The road is right next to the water, so close that there is no barrier between the road and the water. In Australia this would be a one way, one lane, drive slowly street. In Montengro this is two ways, drive like you’re auditioning for a Formula One spot. Come to think of it, are there a lot of Montenegrins/Serbians at Summernats?
Piper and Evie – Ever seen the movie Driving Miss Daisy? Welcome to our world. If dad’s not stalling, then he’s complaining that everyone else is driving fast. No matter where we go. Dad, the common denominator is you. Time to see what this puppy can do.
5. Meeting an Aussie family on a similar journey to ourselves. Andrea and Darren from Adelaide are travelling with their two boys aged 4 and 6. We met them at a playground (where else) and the kids hit it off straight away. For Piper to hit it off the other kid basically just needs to be breathing. We traded travel stories, discussed visa issues, packing techniques etc. We had coffee the next day and then made plans to try and make plans to meet some other time on our journey.
Piper and Evie – Yes friends! Yes Aussies! Yes not weirdos. Win Win Win. Now, how can we work out a way to join their family?
Spirits were boosted when our time came to an end in Montenegro as meeting us in our next port of call, Dubrovnik Croatia would be Ez’s parents, Wally and Irene aka Nonna and Papou. We were all as excited as a German at a rules convention as it had been 4 months since we’d seen them and we knew that they had been really missing the girls. We arrived at our 25th apartment which was one of our best. Overlooking the beach, just 300m from the old town, it was stunning.
Wally and Irene arrived and there were hugs and kisses all around (that was just Ez and I as we thought we could have a break now). The kids took all of about 16 seconds to have some new favourite people on their holiday. Piper, I think was smart enough to know that Papou = ice cream.Now I had been to Dubrovnik on that trip 15 years ago and it was very different. It is a stunning little town but it’s now very busy with tourists (like us). A little different to the one hostel town I remember. It is a perfect old walled town full of white stone buildings and limestone streets. We had a great few days at the beach, exploring the old town, eating and just happy to been around family.
Piper and Evie – Yesssssssss. Nonna and Papou have arrived!! It feels just like when the Berlin Wall fell. Gone is this Communist regime and hello free world. Papou’s Pancakes or Nonna’s eggs for breakfast. Ice cream for lunch. We can finally relax. It’s quite funny as mummy and daddy are acting like nothing had changed, they are evil, we don’t want it to go back to the way it was. Save us, we’re only young!
After a few days in Dubrovnik it was time to ferry over to our next stop, the Croatian Island of Brac where we would stay with Wally and Irene for the next 5 days. More about that on the next blog, time to hit the pool.