Calendar Home
Previous Day

August 21, 2002

Next Day
Montenegro is almost unknown by Western tourists, so we want to see it. We left Croatia and entered an 'unofficial' international border into Montenegro. We say 'unofficial' because we hear that Yugoslavia doesn't recognize this border (or the one with Kosovo). In fact, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia doesn't exist officially since March 14, 2002. Now it's known as Serbia and Montenegro. The two provinces are linked by foreign policy, defense, and economic ties. Although it's supposed to be autonomous, Montenegro hasn't broken the bonds of Serbia's pre-eminence. This means we're not sure if by entering Montenegro we've also entered Serbia. Postage stamps still read "Yugoslavia," which makes matters even more confusing. Once we enter Montenegro we see an immediate drop in living standard. The border is one of those walk-across types, we're forced to change buses, and the Montenegro bus is rickety without air-conditioning (a foreshadowing of this country's poorer state compared to Croatia). The coastline scenery remains spectacular; we pass along the deepest fjord in southern Europe which ends at the town of Kotor. Kotor's city walls follow along a cliff edge and plunge to the harbor. From here we continue to Montenegro's largest beach resort area at Budva. Since we've entered a new country, the first thing we do is search for a money machine. Montenegro's infrastructure lacks ATMs. The country lacks its own currency too. People use Euros as a substitute. A group of old ladies recruits new arrivals for homestays, and we follow one of them back to her apartment. She doesn't speak English (much less English is spoken here by the local population, signs use Cyrillic), and through charades and pictionary we discover that hot water is only available during late afternoon. This is the current state of modern living in the new country of Montenegro.
Budva sticks out like a finger into the Adriatic. Even though Montenegro calls for complete independence from Serbia, most of the tourists that support this town come here from Serbia.
Budva lacks infrastructure but not beauty. It was fully rebuilt after a 1979 earthquake.
A Franciscan church? You'd think we'd be experts by now.
Budva, provincial compared to Dubrovnik, has the air of a country fair. People sunbathe along a sandy boardwalk (you can't take sandy beaches for granted along the Adriatic). Even though tourists fill the town, they're all local tourist so Budva retains its cultural atmosphere. Boardwalk eateries sell cheap pizza and fried sardines that taste like fishy French fries. The black market in music CD's thrives; one euro buys a pirated CD and the variety covers most pop artists.