Ivan, Lil Dave and I had to wake up really early on August 1, 2012. Today, we were going to do a long tour called the Big Montenegro Tour.
Our guide was a cool Montenegran guy named Mladen, but everybody calls him Mladjo. I wasn’t sure why – he said it was because his friends called him that.. but later he told me that Mladjo means May in Italian. He was very tall and it looked like he worked out.
Mladjo was so funny. He liked to make fun of everybody and I mean EVERYBODY!! He told us funny stories about tourists who have taken his tour before. We told him that we lived in Las Vegas, but Ivan was British and I was American. He asked where my family was from and I told him I was the Philippines. He told us that one Japanese man took so many pictures with his DSLR on the bus that it drove people crazy since they wanted to sleep. So, he was saying that people take too many photos (especially the Japanese). He thinks that people should enjoy the moment and not take so many photos. Ivan definitely agreed. He would call people who took too many photos Japanese.
It was great to hear things from a local. He told us that Montenegran people don’t take leftovers home, because they think it makes them look poor. He said that people don’t usually tip, but things have been changing with Western ways. So, he says he tips maybe some change or 1 or 2 Euro.
Mladjo had a French girl on the tour once who didn’t seem like she wanted to do anything on the tour, so he thought French people were boring. Ivan and I both find that typically Germans can be boring.
Mladjo drove the bus to Kotor to pick up 6 people. It was an Israeli couple from London, a Dutch guy named Jerome and his Polish fiancé and two French guys.
The two French guys sat in the front. Mladjo said I hope you two aren’t boring like most French people. Ivan and I laughed hard. Anybody who says that French people are boring RIGHT to their face is freaking awesome!!! That’s very BOLD and funny!!
We were sat next to the Dutch guy Jerome. He sort of looked like Moby since he had a shaved head and glasses. In our experience, Dutch people are cool and it was the same in this case. Jerome was friendly and great to talk to.
Our first stop was the Masoleum. Petar II Petrovic Njegos is buried there. He was a very tall man at 2 meters (6.5 feet!). We walked up lots and lots of steps to reach the top. It was worth it though since the view was beautiful.
Mladjo didn’t recommend the masoleum to the group. But, the boring Israeli guy wanted to go because he likes that king of stuff (not really sure what kind of stuff he meant.. maybe morbid stuff). The rest of the group chilled outside and waited. We saw a couple wearing traditional Montenegran clothes and people were taking photos of them so I joined in.
The bus started driving towards our next destination which would be what Mladjo called Breakfast-Lunch (brunch). His friend from college was there. Ivan and I were excited that we were going to taste some rakia!
Brunch was at a Kafana called Kod Pera na Bukovicu. We sat outside and waited while Mladjo’s friends’ mum made us fresh bread. Lovely! We had local cheese, prosciutto (the Italians stole the name from the Montenegrans) and yummy fresh bread. I decided to try the prosciutto (I’m pescetarian, but sometimes I eat meat since I grew up eating it – I do like to try meat countries are known for) and it was really tasty.
Next, it was time to taste rakia! We were taken to a small room where the magic happens.
Ivan got an extra shot of rakia since Mladjo promised him two shots. He shared it with me. It was quite strong, it being 45% proof.. which is actually about 85% proof in American terms.
Mladjo started driving to the next destination which was up a long and winding road. I’m convinced that The Beatles went up this road and wrote ‘The Long and Winding Road’. I think they should have added scary.. since it was a REALLY long drop down. Mladjo said that he told tourists that he might drive off the road and they got scared like he was going to actually do it. Some people have NO sense of humor.. such a shame really.
Mladjo was like our friend already.. he was just SO easy to talk to and he was always willing to answer your questions.
At one point, the road was so skinny and cars and BIG buses couldn’t get through. It was scary to me since this part of the road had low concrete blocks and not much else that prevents you from falling over. It was really hot since we were stopped. Some people got out. A Montenegran guy got out and was ordering people what to do. He got in our mini-bus and drove is backwards. Mladjo seemed a bit stressed since this was first encounter with this situation as a driver. It took awhile, but we made it pass.
We were off schedule since all that trouble up on the winding road.
The bus stopped at the Ostrag Monastery. It is a white monastery that was built right into the rocks.
Saint Basil of Ostrog is here – you can go to the room which contains his bones in a casket. Mladjo said that recently a group of Muslims came to pray in the room with the saint. I was surprised that they are so open-minded. Most religious people aren’t. Mladjo said that his friend spends more time at this monastery than at the mosque. I guess it’s a popular place to pray even if you’re not Orthodox Christian. Lots of people come here (Christians – both Orthodox and Catholic and Muslims) make pilgrimages here because there have been reports of miracles of the intercession of the saint.
It did feel very holy. We went in the very small room with the saints’ bones. Mladjo kissed the casket and we left.
There was a nice view from the top of the monastery.
We then drove for a couple more hours (which flew by with Mladjo’s chatting) and stopped at a nice little restaurant called Pelikan Restoran by the lake. Mladjo called it lunch/dinner, but seeing as we were there about 6pm, it was definitely more dinner than lunch. Almost everyone got trout, which came with two large trout and was delicious.
The restaurant staff was very nice and gave all the girls some home-grown tea from the garden, a weird water chestnut and cute souvenir Pelikan stamps. After eating, we got driven back via Sveti Stefan to Budva, where we grabbed a photo with Mladjo before saying thanks and goodbye.
We had a lovely time on the tour. Mladjo is a funny and cool guy and an awesome tour guide – definitely one of the best guides we’ve had. I love his positive attitude. This tour is a MUST if you’re ever in Budva or Kotor! – make sure you get Mladjo as your tour guide.
We rested at the hostel for a little while and then showered and got ready for the evening. A lot of people at the hostel were also going to be heading to Top Hill (where we were also going) so we all shared taxis up there. Top Hill is literally at the top of a hill and is a HUGE (5000 people) outdoor venue that hosts djs/bands etc. When we got in we noticed that the entire place was filled up with tables. Small round ones like cocktail tables about 4 foot high with no chairs. There were hundreds of them. An Aussie guy we were with asked one of the waiters what the deal was with the tables…and he was told that we could either buy a large expensive bottle of spirits…or alternatively just get individual drinks and tip him every time we got a drink. That sounded like a good plan , especially as the table was right at the front in the centre.
Everyone congregated around the table drinking and chatting. We had been told that Roger would come on about 1am or maybe 1.30am..Hence we were not too happy when it was 2.30am and he still hadn’t come on yet! Finally at 2.45am he started.
He was really great as usual. Luckily after a while a lot of people left so even though the tables were still everywhere, people started pushing them to the side so there was more space to dance.
I danced like a madman with new dance moves like trying to bend backwards (like the Matrix) and popping and locking. We danced for quite a while. It was awesome dancing to Roger Sanchez’ hard house. We got back to the hostel at 5.15am.