Croatia into Montenegro

Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Serbia and Montenegro  ,
Saturday, September 1, 2007

Over the past ten days we have continued down the Dalmatian coast, stopping on the island of Hvar, the walled city of Dubrovnik, and into Kotor in Montenegro. We have also ditched the tent, leaving it rotting in a Dubrovnik camp site. We made the mistake/ good judgment of accepting  private room in Hvar for 24pounds per night. A bed, a balcony, a bathroom! I love the concept of camping , the people, the simplicity, the outdoors, but have grown to hate its core element - living in a tent.
You couldn't design a more effective sun trap than our home for the past 5 weeks. To limit the pool of sweat we inevitably wake up in we camp under the sanctuary of tree branches, which unfortunately leads to a running battle with the ants. Sometimes we foil their persistent attempts to sleep in our sleeping bags, but often we leave a breadcrumb/ apple core/ rice/ devoured chicken leg in the vicinity and half the set of a bugs life shares our home. Being able to unpack brought into perspective how small our tent was - neither of us could even sit up in it. the advantage to camping is the cheapness, however in Croatia campsites are run by large hotel chains charging extortionate amounts for the privilege of sleeping in their field. Dubrovnik cost us 13 pounds per person per night and this was the final straw. we said our goodbyes, and at 10pm that night we were wandering around Kotor with nowhere to stay. By the way camping solitudo Dubrovnik, space B339, first come first served, will make a good home for a domestic animal no bigger than a rabbit.

A local barman was our savior, making a couple of calls and leading us into the mountains above the city. We were introduced to the family, showed our room, where the bathroom was, and left to it. It didn't feel like any apartment we had stayed in before, the cupboards full of clothes were a give away sign that we were sleeping in someones spare room. Maybe Grandma had... gone on holiday. Our hosts were incredibly friendly, waking us with gloopy cups of coffee, and chatting at every opportunity, although completely in Serbian. Surrounded by mountains, shaded from the intense sun, and full of verandas with grapes growing , this peaceful house made us congratulate ourselves on losing the tent.

Hvar, Dubrovnik, and Kotor have all been preserved to remain as they were 200-500 years ago when they were built. The streets have an irresistible enchantment and charm; tiny cobbled streets and alley ways, faded stone walls, multicolored slate roofs that sit almost on top of each other, and nothing more than 2 stories high. Hvar is a haven for people who like boats. People who own boats, girls who want to pull someone that owns a boat, and lads that pretend to own a boat to pull. Nearby are the Hells Islands where we spent the days sunbathing along the rocks. On our last day there a fishing boat was unloading its daily catch, throwing hundreds of fish from nets into huge ice buckets. Captain Pugwash (stripy t-shirt, long beard, classic fisherman) had a terrible aim and dozens of fish missed there intended target and started floating towards us. I jumped in, at first to catch couple for tea, but then to collect as many as possible thinking we could exchange or sell them at the fishmongers. Only when we had about 100 of them did we consider how we could get our catch back to Hvar with only a dirty fabric shoulder bag. We tried at a couple of restaurants, and walked around shouting FRESH FISCH but why would anyone want to buy sea life of 2 young English they couldn't communicate with when Captain Pugwash was only yards away. Maybe i should grow my beard.

Dubrovnik's popularity with tourists has obviously dampened its appeal. While the exterior remains the same, behind the old walls, every building has been converted into posh restaurants, shops and cafes. The most authentic remaining building was a barbers shop run by a 60 year old man happily swigging beer at 12:30pm. Needing a cut i utilised his services but immediately regretted it when he got the clippers out. Unable to understand my protests he shaped my hair into a perfect Croatian military crew cut; i have never known someone use a razor so haphazardly and now have very little hair left.

Kotor looks like a city that has stood still for hundreds of years. Walking around the city was like going back in time and this has definitely been our favourite stop so far. Montenegro is half the price of Croatia but half as efficient. We were guided to the 9:45 bus to Tivat by a worker at the bus station. The bus said Tivat but the bus driver said, no Tivat. We protested but he couldn't be arsed going there leaving us with 2 options; wait for the next whopper to tell us he wasn't going or get on the bus and see where we end up. So were now in Budva. Hope Englands okay, speak to you soon. Bailey and Kerry
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