Hobbling Around the Streets of Budva

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Lyon Apartmani

Flag of Montenegro  ,
Friday, September 2, 2011

My new gauzy appendage hindered my movement a bit, which in turn made searching for accommodation rather difficult. It seemed the best course of action would be to walk the least amount possible, so when a woman at the bus station offered to drive us and show us her place, we were grateful (though a bit hesitant given our previous experiences). She escorted us to her rusted out Yugo that stubbornly refused to start (yes, the warning bells were ringing), and then drove us to a place about 10 minutes away. As we neared the house, I grew more optimistic: the street was lined with taller, posh-looking apartment buildings that promised not to be shabby inside. Unfortunately, she pulled into a driveway that led behind those fancy buildings and to a dilapidated house that was dark, dingy, and drab inside. 
We now found ourselves even further from the old town, and with my gimp foot, it seemed a tall order to hobble our way all the way back. After walking and waiting a bit, we flagged down a cab and zoomed to the "stari grad" ("old town" in most of the Balkan languages). I holed up in a cafe on the water, and Konrad hit the pavement in search of a spot for us to sleep. 45 minutes later, he came to the conclusion that the hotels in that area were either all booked up or very expensive, so it was back to the drawing board. It was already after 4pm, and we were both keen to get ourselves sorted out as soon as possible, but had no good ideas of where to head next. 

I remembered seeing a hotel on the way into town that advertised rooms for 25-30 euros, so we grabbed a taxi and went off to explore that area of town. That hotel didn't have any rooms, but after a bit more investigation, he was able to secure us an apartment on the same street for 43 euros a night. We moved in and relaxed on the balcony for a bit, then I did my best to shower while trying to keep my foot dry (no easy task, I'll have you know).
Budva is a big resort town that's very popular with rich Russian tourists. The sea in this area is amazingly clean and the beaches are quite lovely. The town also has the stari grad I mentioned above, full of beautiful old buildings and narrow pedestrian streets, so there's a little bit of everything for the visitor to take advantage of in Budva. Our apartment was about a 45-60 minute walk from the old town, and I wanted to give my tender toe a bit of a rest, so we decided to have dinner for the first night down by the water closer to our place. As we wandered, we realized that the area along the water was occupied by an enormous boardwalk filled with amusement park rides for the kids, an unending string of bars and restaurants, countless shops selling everything from water toys to clothing to souvenirs, and about a million tourists. After a dinner of pizza (what else?), we browsed in some of the stalls, stared up at the stars, and then called it a night.

I was feeling a little more positive about my foot the next day and was up for exploring the streets of the old town -- but, as luck would have it, Konrad wasn't feeling too hot, so we spent the morning hanging around the apartment. Around midday he had improved a bit, so we decided to give it a go. We walked back to the boardwalk (which was much less crowded in the daylight), and followed it to the end and into the old town. Desperate to eat something other than pasta or pizza, we had a lunch of fried rice at a Chinese restaurant -- uninspiring, but different! 

 From there we set about discovering the delights of the old town. It was our first stari grad in the Balkans, and showed us the promise of further things to come on our trip. I loved it: the narrow, marble, pedestrian-only streets were carved between beautiful old buildings which now housed chic shops and trendy restaurants. It was quiet and peaceful (and full of beautiful old doors and shutters, which you know I adore). Apparently two massive earthquakes in 1979 destroyed much of the town, but it's been rebuilt and rebooted and looks lovelier than ever. 

After wandering through the alleys a bit, we made our way to the citadel, which stands along the south end of the city walls. The citadel and the city walls date back to the 15th century; like the rest of the town, they suffered severe damage in the 1979 earthquakes, and have largely been restored and reconstructed. We climbed the steps to the citadel, paid our 2 euro entrance fee, then walked up to the walls where we were treated to lovely views of the city and sea. From that vantage point we could really see how incredibly clear the water around Budva was -- it was possible to see the rocky bottom at least 100 meters out. We spent the majority of the afternoon getting lost in the stari grad streets, and then moved along to the nearby, extremely crowded beach. 

An afternoon hobbling around the city and old town had probably been a bit excessive for my poor toe, so I hoped we'd be able to spend the evening relaxing and doing as little walking as possible. I'd seen a sign advertising an outdoor film at Slovenska Plaza, a spot near our apartment, and thought that might fit the bill perfectly. As it turns out, the plaza is actually a gigantic holiday apartment complex that stretches on for an eternity. It took us nearly an hour to finally find the pool where the movie was being shown, which meant that we were just in time to catch the beginning -- and wouldn't have time to grab dinner. We settled into our chaise lounges and looked across the pool to the giant white wall where The Hangover 2 was being projected. Despite the empty stomachs and the long walk, it was a wonderful evening under the stars watching a funny movie and forgetting about the toe trauma. Montenegro was definitely providing us with a wonderful (and much needed) contrast to Skhodra.

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