Greece: One last beach day

Tomorrow’s our last day :'( But what better way to spend it than relaxing, drinking and soaking up the sun. We had heard of a beach or two around the island and visited a number already. We made our way up to the only corner we were yet to visit and to the lovely long beach of Santa Maria.

How long can a book be

Around 2 years ago, I received in the post a book about the offshore banking environment. I started reading it almost straight away. I am still reading it. However, finally I am getting close to the end, having made my way through around 150 pages in the week of holiday. Jenny on the other hand made it through two and a half books. This day was mainly for reading books sitting on the lovely beach and soaking up the final rays of sun.

Double Gyros

Greece Kebabs (Gyros) have chips within the wrap. This is a treat that we couldn’t turn down lightly. After our enjoyable swim in the sea, walk up and down the beach and a drive across the island looking to try and go horse riding. The stables were shut :(. So we made our way back to the quaint alley with the kebab shop, sat in the shade and enjoyed another tasty gyros.

We had to kick a group of travellers from South Africa off of their tables as they were taking up about 5 tables between 8/9 of them. And we then got to enjoy laughing at them argue over the payment of the bill which was arguing about “70 cents!, but that’s like 50 Rand”

Margarita’s House Crèche

The only issue with this day was finding a sunbed by the pool. For some reason, everyone seemed to be doing the same as us and there was very little room around the pool. In fairness there were two sunbeds, but the lobster hue of both of our skins made both of us prefer one that wasn’t in the sun. And we really enjoyed relaxing the afternoon away before making our way up to the sun deck to watch the final sunset with some ciders.

Our last supper

We wandered up and over the hill and into town for one last meal in Naousa. This is a really nice town, with so many options for eating, drinking, shopping and wandering. Luckily as well only parts of the town have become overrun with tourists, which for the most part we tried to avoid.

Looking out across the sleepy bay by Naousa

This night however we thought we would join the crowds, and enjoy a light lunch on the waterfront. Though we did end up staying at the quieter end of the waterfront. It was a pleasant restaurant called Mediterraneo with reasonable prices so we decided that we’d have small starters as well as a main.

More please sir

Well, the starters came. They were anything but small. Jenny had two whole halloumi-type cheeses wrapped in filo pastry and I had 5 balls or zucchini larger than golf-balls. To add to which I thought I would enjoy one final greek salad which always comes with two whole blocks of Feta. My gosh we were already getting super full

Halloumi Filo parcels and Zucchini balls

Before we had finished our starters (I still had half a feta to go) they brought our main courses. A whole plate of big prawns for Jenny and large plate with 4 pork steaks two pitta breads and what looked to be two portions of chips. I tried to eat it all, I did, but unfortunately I had to leave a small piece of pitta and a few little chips. I have to say though that it was really tasty. To jenny’s great delight, the neighbourhood kitties also thought our food was very tasty.

“Home James, please spare the horses”

And there you go! That’s the trip to Paros, Greece wrapped up. We got home, packed up our stuff and got ready for the long travel day ahead of us. A drive, a ferry, a bus, a plane, a train, a metro and finally a walk later, I am sitting at home writing this to you.

Paros is highly recommended to anyone looking for a sunny, relaxing and enjoyable time. On second thoughts, please don’t go, it’s our little gem.

See you next time!

R&J

Xx

Greece: Pounta Diving, Island Driving

As I said in yesterday’s blog we had another early start today to go diving. We made our way down from Naousa to Pounta again to get to Eurodivers. They seemed to be the most well organised dive shop on the island and when we arrived 10 minutes late they were very good at getting our stuff together.

The forgetful NAUI Diver

A feature of the day was both of us forgetting pretty much everything about diving, setting up the equipment, hand signals and everything else in between. This wasn’t helped by the fact that initially we had to admit that we’d also forgotten our certification cards. They almost refused us to dive, but luckily the NAUI site has a handy little tool to find your card number and we were on our way.

Ready on the boat to dive
Ready on the boat to dive – yes that is toothpaste all over my shirt

Water like a mirror

Even having grown up near water, spending time on boats and being a reasonably proficient swimmer, I am not particularly fond of small boats. Unfortunately this was a small boat, a 10 foot (or so) rib with a solid hull, fortunately, the weather was perfect, the sea was barely moving and the sky was a beautiful clear blue. We made our way to the dive sites, both of which weren’t too far from the dock and prepared our equipment.

Under The Sea
Under The Sea

Diving

The diving was nice, though there was not a huge amount of coral or fish. Annoyingly, the GoPro decided to fog up on the first dive, though I managed to fix that for the second dive by holding it in the sun for a short while. The second dive was quite interesting and we went a bit deeper and through a pretty cool archway tunnel.

Around the island we go

A few days earlier, a very offended sommelier had informed us that Paros “was not that small”, so we decided to confirm that for ourselves by using the afternoon to drive around and through the island. We can confirm, it is small. It doesn’t take an hour to drive around the whole island, but he was correct that it is indeed not that small.

Jenny wanted to practise her driving so I focused on giving her directions, and she did a really good job. But this did mean that we didn’t get many/any pictures of the beautiful scenery but the Greece Travel Guide website has some lovely photos of Lefkes that you can look at.

Parikia

We had somewhat turned up our nose at the main port town of Paros, thinking it to be too loud, too dirty or not classy enough. We were however pleasantly surprised. Walking around in the day, there are a number of winding narrow streets similar to those of Naoussa or on Antiparos. With little shops selling souvenirs, close or ice-cream. We found the ice-cream.

Lovely staircases down winding alleys
Lovely staircases down winding alleys

 

Staircases, cafes and bougainvillea are everywhere
Staircases, cafes and bougainvillea are everywhere

There are also many windmills on Paros, with a lovely one looking over the bay and over the town. Within which there is a bar/cafe, for some reason it was closed, which we were a bit disappointed about, but we walked up and around anyway, enjoying one of our last few days on the beautiful island.

Alexandros Cafe Windmill looking across the bay
Alexandros Cafe Windmill looking across the bay

There is even a “castle” built out of scraps from local ancient Greek ruins. Or as an american tourist said “why did they build the wall from mill stones”

Castle wall built from Ancient Greek pillars
Castle wall built from Ancient Greek pillars

 

 

Another lovely meal in Naoussa

The one issue with Margarita’s House (our lovely hotel) is that to do the short walk into town you have to walk up a steep hill and then down the other side. The upside of this is that you can get some lovely photos, and get to walk off the meal at the end of the night.

Naoussa has a beautiful skyline
Naoussa has a beautiful skyline

The meal was a pretty standard fare in a Greek tapas restaurant which we happened across as it’s on the same street as Le Sud and Soso. The food was good, and the price was reasonable, we drank a litre of wine. The atmosphere also was pleasant and the waitress was very nice. Unfortunately, she was a little forgetful, and we had to ask her three times for our water, and she never brought my coke. But she was extremely apologetic about it, and you couldn’t help feel for her running around all evening.

The sign outside with the name
The sign outside with the name

 

Inexpensive wine in a carafe
Inexpensive wine in a carafe

 

Jenny looking beautiful waiting for her food
Jenny looking beautiful waiting for her food

 

Naoussa port - most restaurants were here, but they were a bit more tacky and had hundreds of tables
Naoussa port – most restaurants were here, but they were a bit more tacky and had hundreds of tables

Another day gone, there is only really one more to go before our travel day!

😥

See you tomorrow

R&J

Xxx

Greece: Captain Ben

The seas around Paros are crystal blue and what better way to explore them out on a boat. Captain Ben was our day cruise of choice, we were deciding between Ben and Yianni but when we got through to Yianni it sounded like he was in a hurricane and said his boat would not be ready for ten days.

Morning

We don’t like mornings, I think we have made that clear. And so even when a fun day is ahead of us we still struggle to get out of bed. Especially when sleeping off the amazing meal at Siparos (see yesterdays blog for that). We had to get to the south of the island by ten where we huddled with other tourists until a big red boat with “Captain Ben” emblazoned on the side turned up.

Snorkeling

The main feature of the day is jumping in the water and attractive spots along the way. The Captain (Ben) drove very close to the cliffs to allow us all to take beautiful photos of the scenery around Paros and Antiparos.

There were some really nice stops and we both got to do a fair bit of snorkelling in the crystal clear waters. Of course there are always lots of other people and so you don’t see many fish. But it’s still very pretty.

BBQ

After a few chances to swim in the ocean we end up at a cove accessible only by boat ⛵ where we stop a while to relax on the beach. I think this is mainly to give Ben’s heart a break since he spends half the time in the water demanding people don’t swim too far or stay away from the rocks.

They loaded us up with a snack of octopus, calamari and sausage (yum!). And then request we wash it down with a pint of Ouzo (yuck!) We left our glass full minus a little sip.

I even got to practise my Baywatch running, dig a couple holes and top up my sunburn. The equipment is quite good quality and the staff are very helpful, serving drinks and putting out a load of beach toys for the time on land.

When we got back to the boat they served up lunch which was delicious and good portions too. Some Greek salad, pasta salad, pork and chicken skewers and some potatoes. Later they brought round some whole fish as well!

Slide

One exciting feature of the boat was that it had a slide off the back which went straight into the sea. We got some videos which I will put up later. Ben and the other staff were very good at making sure the slide was wet and the exit was clear. And it was a good novelty to slide down into the sea. I even jumped off the top of the boat.

Archway

One of the most exciting features of the day is an archway that you can swim through and people climb up to the top to jump off. Given the recent issue my brother had from a similar exercise I decided to not jump myself, but instead watch others do so. Unfortunately neither of us got a good picture of the archway so here is a nice one from the Captain Ben website.

Wind down

After such a long day in the sun we were both very sunburnt, tired but very relaxed. We headed home and cooked some supermarket pizzas before wandering into town so I could live out my childhood with a big bunch of candy floss. There was even a bit of traditional Greek dancing and music going on in the centre of town.

We finished up with some “icecream rolls” where they make the icecream in front of you on a really cold plate. It’s quite fun, but at 7 EUR a bowl it was a bit pricey!

Anyway that’s it for today. We have another early morning tomorrow (groan) to go diving so these blogs are going to be a little late.

See you tomorrow

R&J

Xxx

Greece: And the day you’ve all been waiting for: Our Anniversary

This trip was mainly to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary and so today was the all important day and right in the middle of the holiday too. It was a really lovely one.

Errands

We exchanged cards and gifts and ate breakfast in bed. But we needed to go into town since, as the car rental man put it, “I think someone drive fast into kerb and bend tire.” “Oh no!”, we both exclaim. “Oh, no problem, we take sledgehammer; bang bang all ok”

We had to wait 30 minutes for the wheel to be repaired and reblown. So we wandered into the lovely winding streets of Naoussa. Where I finally found myself some replacement flipflops, the shop owner even let me try his own to show that they become more comfy. And I convinced Jenny to get a Gyros for lunch while we waited.

Sand and Sea

This trip has mainly been about relaxing. Where we’d normally take the opportunity to see ruins or read placards on museums we have taken more opportunities to read our books and sit in the sun. This day was just the same, we made our way down to the beach next to our hotel and sat on the rocks, swam in the water and relaxed in the sun.

Yummy Dinner

To be honest that was most of the day done and we came back to our hotel and lay down and caught up on an episode of “The Bridge”, it’s getting very tense.

The one booking we made before getting to Paros was dinner for our anniversary. Hearing the best place to eat in Greece was Siparos in the north this was the place to book.

From the street it is relatively unassuming, quaint and beach bar like. Inside it is too not ostentatious but it is obviously very nice. We started with cocktails, had some lovely starters of mussels and vineleaf parcels and finished with some delicious mains.

My main was a veal fillet lightly cooked, with a hot stone and fragrant salts to finish, they even carved at your table. Jenny went for the fish spaghetti, which even I thought was delicious (and I don’t eat fish).

And the view

All of the above. But the view as well. This place is lovely. There was a small sailing yacht and a small jetty which got momentarily used. And you could look across this calm but beautiful bay back to Naoussa. The weather has been so beautiful you could see Mykonos in the background about 40 km away. “Best weather in 20 days” according to Captain Ben (see tomorrow’s blog for that)

See you tomorrow!

R&J

Xxx

Greece: oh how relaxing you are Paros

Now three days into our trip to Paros, relaxing really is the theme of this trip. We hoped to go diving but waking up too late and not being able to get through on the phone we resigned ourselves to reading our books and watching the boats sail past.

Time to move

After a few hours of increasing our chances of skin cancer we got going to a fish restaurant recommended by our good friend Chris. So we made the long drive of 15 mins over to the east side of the island.

Christiana looks like an average beach bar/restaurant but the staff were really lovely and the view across to Naxos was completely charming. You even got to choose your fish from a drawer in the counter.

Road trip

Refreshed and having walked the front, we set off once more. Jenny again at the helm. Becoming quite the driving pro. We decided to cruise around all four corners of the island of Paros to get a feel for the place. We lucked out and came across a nice little town called Piso Livadi, which had a lovely beach with calm warm water and friendly people. We stayed a while and soaked in the water.

Due South

Having been unable to dial through on the phone we decided it was best to head to the dive center directly. Eurodivers shop is a standard beachy chilled out place with pleasant staff. We booked on to two dives on Monday which we are really looking forward to. The drive to get to the dive shop was spectacular and compares to those in Montenegro, see our other blogs about that.

Moriatis Winery

We finished off our relaxing day with a 12 wine flight of tasting at the Moriatis Winery. This is the biggest winery on the island of Paros and the staff here were absolutely charming. They really made the experience. (Un)Fortunately we got a little bit tipsy and had a bit of a wandering route home in the dark.

We managed to inhale our taco leftovers which were still super tasty and tried to drink our free bottle of wine (a treat for our anniversary) which was not as tasty before hitting the hay and calling it a night.

What a lovely day of just relaxing. Oh and we even managed to book onto Ben’s sailing tour for Sunday! Very excited!

R&J

Xxx

Greece: Lazy days and eating Paros and Antiparos

The last few days have been very lazy and yesterday especially was mainly about the eating and drinking that we had to do. Although booked for our one year anniversary, alot of this trip is about us being able to get away and recuperate some energy. To really exemplify this we slept in past mid-day.

Shopping

When most people talk about shopping on holiday they mention the new handbag, shoes, purse or shirt. For us we talk about the supermarkets, the cat treats and the vegetable section. This trip is the same as any other and we made our way to AB Market, which seems to be the only viable supermarket on Paros.

A top tip from us, is to never buy the breakfast offered by the hotel since it is rarely that good and instead choose something at the supermarket that you woud really like. This often works for us since we like to stay in places that have a kitchenette that we can use.

Breakfast on the balcony, overlooking the pool and sea
Breakfast on the balcony

We finished off the daytime eating with some prosciutto ham sandwhiches by the pool and a lovely bottle of apple juice before a drive out to the centre of Parikia (the main town on Paros) to see what was happening. Already we could tell we loved Paros, with its steep winding roads and beautiful scenery, so we walked into the centre of Naoussa for a drink and dinner.

Karnagio

We moved through the small streets of Naoussa and along the waterfront until we found a few different bars offering cocktails at highly inflated prices. We settled for one and it was lovely; secluded, at the end of the path looking towards the town and out to Sea. The cocktails were also delicious, with a novel approach of adding a scoop of jam in the top, which you can either mix in or eat outright. Well worth it.

Drink by the sea before dinner - blurred background girl drinks through straw
Drink by the sea before dinner

Fotis by Barbarossa

We were just on our way to get some dinner as we were getting hungry after a few hours of not eating. When we stumbled across another Bar called Fotis, which sat right out on the beach. Ok, it was next to the beach on fake pebbles, but that made it all the more comfortable and pleasant. We gave over our hard earned cash again, we could see this night already starting to add up. But the cocktails were tasty, the views were brilliant and the company was bearable.

Fotis bar on the beach overlooking the sea at sunset
Fotis bar on the beach overlooking the sea at sunset

Le Sud

Eventually, we made our way back up the hill and to the same street from the previous night with Soso restaurant. This time we went down a quaint alley into this beautifully decorated courtyard, where we were greeted in french accents and sent to our seats. The food was amazing; really beautifully presented and favours to match. We had the full three courses, and felt right pigs all the more for it. The pictures below, can’t do it justice.

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Le Sud Desert - Pavlova
Le Sud Desert – Pavlova, Yum!

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Antiparos

At the southern tip of Paros, seperated only by a small strip off water is Antiparos. We made our way down there, with a 15 minute drive and 6 minute ferry as soon as we had managed to peel ourselves away from our sheets. The journey is quite pleasant

Looking across the sea in Antiparos
Looking across the sea in Antiparos

Antiparos Caves

One of the major attractions on the island are some lovely and quite deep caves in the centre of the island (a ten minute drive). The walk down is relatively easy and there were ot many people in the cave with us. Unfortunately, in some places people are climbing over the barriers and this is causing damage to the natural environment, we even witnessed this first hand, however it is still a lovely place to visit.

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Antiparos beaches

Driving around the island we noticed that there were alot of little bays and beaches that anyone could enjoy. These beaches were all a lot quieter and more secluded than the beaches in Paros, so we sat on the beach ate our sandwiches, soaked up the sun and enjoyed the sea. It really was a lovely relaxing experience.

Beach in Antiparos
Beach in Antiparos
Beach in Antiparos
Beach in Antiparos

Jenny can still drive

Heading back, Jenny plucked up the courage and practised her driving, something that she did very successfully and navigated the whole way around the winding roads going steeply up and down the hills. This took us all the way back to Paros and back home after a quick ferry ride. We even managed to stop off and pick up our favourite ice-cream, a snickers ice-cream.

Streets of Antiparos
Streets of Antiparos

We can hopefully go diving tomorrow and report back on the quality of the scenery under the sea also. I am betting it is just as lovely

R&J

Xxx

Greece: Paros here we come, first wedding Anniversary

Nearly one year since our beautiful wedding day, Jenny and I are off to Paros to celebrate our amazing first year together. Having booked this trip many months ago, Jenny and I had visions of planning out the whole time, and discovering the activities and excursions that we should be taking ourselves on.

And we go off to Mykonos

However we’ve been working, a lot. Sleeping a little and relaxing rarely. So unfortunately we have only got very little planned. That may not be a bad thing, since what we really need is a bit of a sleep and a chance to relax together. At least at a minimum we have a lovely meal booked and have been told to go on a wine tasting. The rest of the time, who knows.

Busy, Busy time to relax

Having spent the last 4 days with Rob’s family for his Granny’s 100th (yes one hundredth) Birthday we are already exhausted so were not that keen on awaking at 5am to head to the airport. Arriving at London Bridge Station, and finding all the trains to Gatwick delayed didn’t help our joy of the early morning. Finally arriving at the airport, we had a cheeky katsu curry and got to the plane. We are on our way!

See you on the other side

Not quite… 1.5 hours later, due to an issue with the plane and then an issue with a take-off slot, we are still sitting on the apron. We would be missing our ferry from Mykonos to Paros, but as one piece of luck would have it, our ferry has also been delayed by 4 hours to 7pm. How lucky!

Finally some food

As soon as we got to Noussa we went straight out to have a lovely meal at Soso a restaurant down a beautiful alley with bougainvillea growing up every where. The food was delicious and quite reasonable too.

Well enough of the complaining, we are finally lieing down in our beautifully comfortable bed looking out to the Adriatic. Ready to sleep, this place is beautiful.

R&J

Xxx

To see our planning of the trip look at our last post here:

Greek Islands: Planning the trip

 

Greek Islands: Planning the trip

Anniversary Time

We got married on June 30th 2017, so we have our 1 year anniversary this year. Having already been on a major trip for our honeymoon, we decided not to be too over the top. Greece, however is somewhere we have both wanted to go together and so our decision was made. Specifically the islands where the sand is soft and the sun is warm.

And you will go to Mykonos…

Flights to Greece seem to mainly focus on Athens, however there are some reasonable direct flights to Mykonos on the world favourite airline, EasyJet. And we managed to pick up a good return deal for just over a hundred quid each. Jenny and I don’t tend to enjoy party focused locations which was the impression we got from friends and articles we had read of Mykonos. Instead we were suggested the nearby island of Paros.

Unfortunately, the ferries in the Greek Islands are very expensive, but it is the most efficient way to get around without breaking the bank. Luckily we can arrive in Mykonos and take the ferry to Paros on the same day, something that isn’t always possible due to the timetable or availability of tickets.

There are lots of websites to book on the same ferry so check them all, as some will show sold out, whereas others will have plenty of availability. We booked onto Seajets.

…with a vision of gentle coast

Choosing a place to stay was very difficult. We knew that we didn’t want to spend too much, but we also wanted to enjoy our special week together. Jenny did most of the research for this and found some places. All with a view of the sea, well why not!

We ended up agreeing on somewhere near Naousa as it seemed a pleasant town with some places to eat but not being too busy. It has the typical white buildings looking out over the sea.

View of Naoussa, Paros from the water. Original image by ArnoWinter available here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panorama_Naoussa_Paros.jpg
View of Naoussa, Paros from the water – Original image by ArnoWinter available here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panorama_Naoussa_Paros.jpg

Margarita’s House is near to Naoussa but far enough away to be within our budget. We opted for a room with a view over the sea, but also with cooking facilities to give us the option to reduce our expenses if we needed to. We can’t wait the room looks lovely, there is a pool, a view and a short walk to the town centre.

Owner's image of the room we have booked, looking out over the sea.
Owner’s image of the room we have booked, looking out over the sea.
Now to wait

We have a few months to decide what to do, see which other islands we may want to go to and any places we want to eat. June now seems so many months away! But we will just have to wait and keep saving money to pay off the credit card and enjoy ourselves on holiday.

See you soon guys!

Mr&Mrs Watts

xx

We almost crashed… Road to Lovćen – Montenegro

Lovćen Mountain View

Coming to the end of our trip to Montenegro we were running out of things to do, so we set off on a drive to the old Capital, Cetinje. On our way we noticed a sign to Lovcen view point, so we changed direction and headed off. The road wound up the mountain and we passed multiple people with trees on their roof. We had seen in Budva earlier people selling these same brown leaved branches. We searched online, to no avail, more on that later.

As we drove up the valley to Lovcen, the road started to get a little snowy. The road was not busy and so the snow got deeper and deeper. Eventually after about an hour of driving the snow was about three inches deep. We probably should have used chains. But we started a steep climb up the valley with high mounds of snow on each side of the road. Having not come across anyone in at least 40 minutes we were not worried about the single track road. Anyway we had a 4WD!

How wrong we were! rounding a corner we saw a Land Rover, right in the middle of the road. The door wide open. There seemed to be just enough room to get around, but that involved going through the deeper snow. Again, how wrong we were! Halfway around the corner the car lost traction and started sliding towards the open door on the Land Rover. The 15 year old child ran around and shut the door, but it was too late, we was stuck and merely centimetres from the Land Rover.

After a few minutes of spinning wheels and pushing from the 15 year old and his dad, Rob had to allow the child to turn the steering wheel whilst he applied the agreed amount of pressure. We blame it on the child parking his car in the middle of the road. But it is probably because Rob is “the worst driver in the family, by far!” – ask his mum.

Eventually after a big more sliding we got to the top of Lovcen. We then had to walk about what seemed like a few hundred steps through a tunnel. The tunnel itself was like something out of a James Bond movie. There was no-one there and the wind blew down through the tunnel. But the view was amazing as you could see all across Montenegro; on one side down to the lake and the other side down to the sea.

Cetinje

After our hazardous drive up the mountain, we needed to drive down the mountain again. Luckily we came across no vehicles, though the car slid around quite a lot. we were happy to make it back to a solid, snow free road.

The old capital of Cetinje is smaller than the current capital and has even less to do. We grabbed some lunch in a small cafe to rest off the stressful drive and walked around the small town, taking some silly photos.

King Nikola's Palace - Cetinje - former palace of the Montenegrin Royal Family
King Nikola’s Palace – Cetinje – former palace of the Montenegrin Royal Family
Being silly in Cetinje
Being silly in Cetinje

The high street itself, although pretty empty, was relatively pretty for Montenegro and you could tell this was an older city. Apart from walking up and down this street and the surrounding roads, there was still not much else to be found. Though we did see even more people buying and selling small oak trees with brown leaves. We managed also to work out what this was later in the evening.

Cetinje high street
Cetinje high street

It’s Christmas!

It turns out that it was Christmas Day! In the Orthodox Church they use the Julian Calendar and so Christmas falls in the first week of January. One of the traditions in Montenegro, amongst Serb Montenegrins seems to be Badnjak. This seems to involve chopping down a young tree and burning it as a blessing for the coming year. Unfortunately we missed the actual celebrations though we could see them and hear them from our hotel room and we caught a little snippet of the tree burning in the centre of Budva.

Badnjak Celebrations in Budva centre
Badnjak Celebrations in Budva centre

Exclusive guests only

On our way to Budva we had seen an amazing island linked to the mainland by a man-made causeway, which we decided we wanted to visit. Looking online we saw it was called Sveti Stefan and so we made our trip down there.

View across the bay to Sveti Stefan
View across the bay to Sveti Stefan

The view is really cool and we were really excited to park up and go in. We paid the £3 parking fee! (Most expensive in Montenegro we saw). Unfortunately once we got to the causeway there are some guards and you aren’t let through, turns out it is an exclusive hotel resort. We were a little disappointed as we had no plans for the rest of the day and we were already hungry so we took some more photos and went our way trying desperately to try find some food.

Trying to sneak onto Sveti Stefan
Trying to sneak onto Sveti Stefan

Jenny CAN drive

We had a few days in Budva and the surrounding area to just relax, soak up the atmosphere (eating and drinking) and get lots of photos. It was really lovely to take that time and we really wanted to stay for quite a lot longer. Some of the exciting aspects for us both were the Ballerina out on the rocks along the coast and all the animals that wanted our attention.

Lots of kittens (seven of them) around the coast line, almost very friendly
Lots of kittens (seven of them) around the coast line, almost very friendly
The Ballerina dances along the coast overlooking Budva
The Ballerina dances along the coast overlooking Budva

Unfortunately we came to the end of our trip. Packed up and in the car we set off early to make our morning flight from Podgorica. Jenny hasn’t driven in quite a while (about 7 years) but feeling brave she got behind the wheel and drove us the whole way from Budva past Sveti Stefan down the coast road. All the way to the winding road up the mountain and back over to Lake Skadar. At this point she got out the car and became a passenger instead but we were both very impressed and she intends to do some more driving on our next trip.

Many of the roads and tunnels in Montenegro are still being built
Many of the roads and tunnels in Montenegro are still being built

Gotta go back to work

As we got on the plane, we could see the world was listening to us, and speaking how we felt! CBA indeed!

See you next time guys!

CBA - The world was telling us something
CBA – The world was telling us something

Finances

We need to dig through our transactions in entirety, but the best estimate is that the whole trip cost between 2,000 and 3,000 GBP. This was not a cheap trip in all. But we spent a lot of time drinking and eating. The major cost was the astronomical RyanAir flight. And the expensive Chalet Kolasin was worth every penny!

Over the hills and far away to Budva – Montenegro

The Drive

Montenegro is small, smaller (as they say) than Wales. Therefore the drive from Podgorica down to the coast in Budva was only about 65km and took about 1 hour. On single lane roads with a speed limit of 60 km/h you get the opportunity to take in the surroundings, and they are amazing. A great expanse of open lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. This is the biggest lake in the Balkans, Lake Skadar and stretches out of Montenegro into Albania.

Lake Skadar reaching out towards Albania
Lake Skadar reaching out towards Albania

As we came over the mountains which run along the coast of Montenegro there was some absolutely amazing scenery. The road winds up the mountain, with viaducts hanging out over the side of the cliff. Every bend warranted another stop for another photo or a view in amazement at the amazing scenery. After pushing up our jaws and pushing our eyes back into our head we made our way down to the coast and into the town of Budva.

Drive to Budva is amazing - this view across Lake Skadar and the coastal mountain range was to die for
Drive to Budva is amazing – view across Lake Skadar and the coastal mountain range

Budva

Budva has a few distinct areas to it. First the new town with modern apartment blocks and hotels. This is the first area that you come across when entering the town. Then as you drive into the centre you notice that there is a set of older and more charming buildings which creep up the steep hill which the town nestles against. And finally once you are out of the car and on your feet you come across the real jewel. The Old Town (Stari Grad). This is the typically balkan mix of stone buildings with ochre clay tiles and narrow streets. Most people would know what Croatian coastal towns looks like, and I believe this is comparable, though on a smaller scale.

Budva old town from the beach
Budva old town from the beach

The small old town was only a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel room. Jutting out into the ocean, it is a very pleasant place to walk around to look at the houses and examine the history of the place. There is a photo below which was taken in the same location that sold us on our visit to Montenegro from this blog that we mentioned previously.

Budva old town by the church
Budva old town by the church
Budva old town in the palace
Budva old town in the palace

Our Hotel

We checked into our accommodation (Apartments Teona) and were immediately met with a beautiful room. Everything was white and we were high up looking out across the city. Unfortunately we enjoyed our room so much that we only took a photo of the balcony and not of the room itself.

Our balcony view across Budva
Our balcony view across Budva

There was only one issue with the room, which they apologised profusely for; the sink drained really slowly. They promised an engineer would come the next day, but as we found out later, it was the weekend of Orthodox Christmas. The Engineer never came, but the owner’s Son came in person to apologise and they gave us a 30% discount on our agreed price. This very much softened the blow.

Feeling relaxed and ready to enjoy ourselves we set up the camera to look over the old town and film the darkening of the sky. Unfortunately, this is where you see the issue of the new part of Budva with the high rise buildings, it spoils the view for many of the older homes and apartments up on the hill side. In any case the view was excellent and it was great to see the lights come on in the town.

Darkening sky across Budva
Darkening sky across Budva

Food Options are improved

As mentioned before the food options in Montenegro weren’t the best, but over the 4 days we spent in Budva we ate in the local Chinese restaurant, which was very good. A local restaurant on the Marina, which seemed to be past its prime, but still very good food. A Cafe-Bar on the edge of  a shopping mall (sounds bad, but was very enjoyable). And an Italian restaurant in the centre square of the old town. These were all quite good and there was a good range of options out there to choose from.

Restaurant on Marina - A little past its prime
Restaurant on Marina – A little past its prime
Lots of meat in Montenegro
Lots of meat in Montenegro

Every night with full belly’s we ended up back in our hotel room looking over Budva ready for another day. There was lots more to see in the other coastal towns to.

Tivat

A short (30-45 min) drive around the coast ends up in the Kotor peninsula. We came across Tivat first and made our way down to the waterfront. It has clearly had a large amount of investment in the recent years as it is the only place that we saw no damaged or derelict buildings. The buildings are all made of white stone which shines and gleams in the light, this area is evidently full of wealth.

Shining stone buildings of Tivat
Shining stone buildings of Tivat

We walked down the waterfront, lined with an old sailing ship on one side and modern Cafe-Bars on the other. In addition to this there are a number of food and drink stalls along the waterfront and this is where we tucked into our lunch of burger and chips for only about 10 EUR including mulled wine. Walking up and down the waterfront and down through the Marina we found another bar to sit in and enjoy some juices. The prices here were not so reasonable and our 8 EUR pineapple juices were the most expensive drinks (alcoholic or not) that we drank on our whole trip.

Tivat's cafe and palm lined waterfront
Tivat’s cafe and palm lined waterfront

View from Tivat waterfront to the mountains
View from Tivat waterfront to the mountains
Old ship on Tivat Waterfront
Old ship on Tivat Waterfront

This area of Montenegro is really beautiful and we saw some amazing sights along our way. There was even a cruise ship in the middle of the bay. This must be a touristy area! Wearing coats and scarfs walking along the coast and driving around the bay was fine. But we both noted that this area must be amazing in the Summer months. We are willing to bet that it is much quieter than the other Mediterranean coastal towns, even in that summer heat.

Kotor

In the same area and only around the bay Kotor has more of a historical appearance than Tivat. The historical centre is enclosed by an impressive fortress wall which continues up the valley side. At the top there is a palace also part of the fortress which is quite impressive. We have to admit that we were feeling a little lazy and didn’t make the long climb up the mountain. Instead we wandered around the old town, looking in shops, stroking the odd cat we saw and looking for a souvenir or two to purchase. To be honest, we probably didn’t give Kotor the best chance. But after having been to Tivat in the morning we didn’t feel like wandering around for too long. In any case the town was starting to fill up with cruise ship passengers. In the end we only ended up spending about 90 minutes in Kotor. Though we did manage to get some nice pictures.

Kotor Fortress Wall

Kotor Fortress Wall

Pavement outside an old palace in Kotor
Pavement outside an old palace in Kotor
View over the rooftops of Kotor
View over the rooftops of Kotor
Kotor Fortress Wall - opposite side
Kotor Fortress Wall – opposite side
Kotor Fortress up on the hill - at least a 20 minute walk
Kotor Fortress up on the hill – at least a 20 minute walk
Some lovely although damaged buildings in Kotor
Some lovely although damaged buildings in Kotor

Leaving Kotor behind us, we decided that we would take the long scenic route back to Budva, adding around 30 minutes to our route. This road runs very close to the water and is very narrow. This adds to its charm greatly and with the sun setting it was an absolutely lovely scene. A few points along the way Jenny was worried the car would slide into the sea as another car tried to pass, but we made it around all in one piece and it was definitely worth the drive.

View across Kotor Bay as the sun is setting
View across Kotor Bay as the sun is setting
Another amazing view across the Bay of Kotor
Another amazing view across the Bay of Kotor

Coming up

Next time we will go over our last few days in Montenegro. This includes almost falling off a mountain, getting caught in snow and dipping our feet in the Med.


Financials

At this point we had well and truly lost track of our expenses, but in the final blog post covering Montenegro I will outline the best estimate of our total spend on the trip.


Bonus Content

Here’s some more photos from these days to have a look at what we did. (Click to enlarge)

Kotor
Kotor
Kotor cats
Kotor cats
Tivat waterfront
Tivat waterfront

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The view on the way to Budva
The view on the way to Budva
Budva has dogs too
Budva has dogs too
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Couldn’t help taking a picture of this action