Category Archives: Budva

Dance Tour

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stefan Beach

Lil Dave and I woke up at 10 am on July 31, 2012.  Ivan was already up early.  I know why they call our room the Sun Room… it’s because in the morning the sun comes in the barely opaque ? curtains.  The sun woke Ivan up early…the lack of air conditioning means that once awake it’s kind of hard to get back to sleep again.

At 11:30 am, we headed to Budva’s Old Town.  We had lunch near the castle – I think it was called Mercur.  Ivan and I each had a hake sandwich which was really plain.  We also shared tasty blueberries with honey, lemon and liqueur.  Lil Dave got a banana salad and a banana milkshake.

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Exploring the shops in the castle was nice….lots of little winding streets to explore.  Ivan saw an exit in the castle that headed toward the beach, so we headed that way.

There was a cool beach, however we saw a pathway that led around the cliff and lots of people were walking on it, so we figured they must be onto something, and so headed to the path ourselves.  We saw the pretty statue of a nude lady doing some weird yoga move. 

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People were standing right near her on a nearby rock.

We walked on and found a nice beach with tons of chairs that we SOOO close together. 

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If you were sat in the back, you’d just see miles of people in front of you – NOT fun…but luckily we had no desire to sit on the beach at all, as it was so hot we just wanted to get into the water.

Ivan put our stuff down on the stones (no sand again!) near the water and we went in the cool water. 

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Lil Dave was determined to get a tan.  He thinks it will attract the girl monkeys – so he’s looking for a tan bronze orange color. 

This beach was already packed – it would be EVEN busier on a weekend.  Ivan and I played a game to see if the other person can guess which hand you put the rock in.  I thought I did well by doing 3 in a row, but Ivan beat me with 4 in a row. 

We walked to the bar for a drink.  Ivan and I each had a pear Somersby cider.  It was very refreshing since it was so hot out.  Lil Dave got a banana Somersby cider – don’t tell him but I just added a bunch of bananas to an apple juice to make it good for a young little monkey. We sat and chilled and enjoyed the beautiful views from the bar.

We walked back to another beach.  Ivan wanted to take a boat ride.  We got on board and sat facing the water.  Budva is beautiful.  The breeze felt good going through my hair.. It seemed like I didn’t have a care in the world.  The boat passed by the beautiful Sventi Stephan island. 

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The entire island is a resort that charges $1000 USD a night.  I wish we could visit, but it’s not open to the public.. although I think one beach is.

Ivan closed his eyes and nodded off a bit.  I didn’t want to disturb him, so I let him be.  I enjoyed the view as we reached Hawaii.  (yes that was really the name of the island – so at least I can now say I’ve been to Hawaii!!

Ivan, Lil Dave and I were so knackered (tired).  Ivan thought it was from the cider, but I think it was from Ivan not getting much sleep last night and the heat.  We took a long nap on the stones.  It was a shame that we didn’t get to check out Hawaii since we slept the whole time.

After an hour or so, the alarm on the phone woke us up, and we got back on the boat and we were taken back to Budva.

It was 6 pm when we got back to the hostel.

Later, Ivan and I had dinner at a nearby restaurant called Fratello Grill.  It’s right next to a tiny Auto Perionica (car wash).  We shared a lovely quince brandy.  Lil Dave got two grilled banana kebabs. 

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Ivan and I shared grilled sea bass, grilled squid and grilled vegetables (Yes the theme of the dinner was ‘grilled food’).  It was a delicious meal.  I’m glad Ivan read the Budva guide book that recommended this unassuming place. 

The rest of the night we took it easy at the hostel with Ivan using the internet and I worked on the blog.

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Dancing Mussels

On July 30, 2012, Ivan, Lil Dave and I got a taxi to the bus station.  We got a mini bus to the border of Albania at 11 am.  There’s no air conditioning on the bus.  There’s two windows that can be opened and people closed them.  I felt like I was going to puke since it was so stuffy and hot in the bus.  Ivan reached over and opened it again after the guy shut it. The guy looked at Ivan like he was crazy, but made no attempt to close the window again.

Ivan and I watched a few episodes of Beaver Falls on the laptop..always handy to have a laptop with plenty of stuff to watch, to pass the time!!!!

We arrived at 1:30 pm and a man approached us for a taxi to Budva for 50 Euros.  Ivan said yes and we put our backpacks in the trunk and he drove off.  Our driver was named Jose. 

We started approaching the border and he totally cut the line which was really long.  Ivan liked him already since Ivan would have done the same thing.  We think our driver ended up bribing a border agent (Ivan’s guess was 5 Euro) so that we skipped the long line.  Thank goodness he did that otherwise we would have been in line for an hour and a half….at least

Ivan looked up the address of the hostel and it was IV Proleterska 37.  He thought I Proletrska would be the same. Ivan was looking for the hostel.  I was standing there watching our backpacks.  It was really hot out and I was sweating.  So, we got dropped off in the wrong area.  There was a man and a woman walking – the man hugged Ivan, but he didn’t speak any English.  Ivan kept searching for the hostel.  The man who hugged Ivan was talking to me in Montenegran.  I had no clue what he was saying.  He made the international sign for sleeping.  I wasn’t sure if he was offering to show me a hotel or to come to his house.  I just said no and shook my head.  He shook my hand and was on his way.  This just shows that there’s actually nice people in the world.

Ivan found out that the I Proletrska is not the same as IV which is in a different area.  I read that some of the streets have no names here in Budva.  I guess this is where U2 go their inspiration from.  So, we hopped into a taxi and were taken to Hippo Hostel.

A guy showed us to our private room which was called the Sun Room around 5 pm.  Ivan found out that the hostel has a dog, cat, a hippo and two turtles.  Lil Dave doesn’t like cats, so he thought he should just stay in the room hidden in a bag.  He really needs to get over this silly fear – he thinks cats are going to eat him.

Later on, we walked to the beach.  Lunch was at a restaurant right next to the beach. 

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We had a good fish soup and a massive plate of fried fish with potatoes and spinach.  There was so much fish that we didn’t end up finishing it all.  Ivan thought we should have a light dinner later on and I thought that was a good idea.

We headed to find a seat on the beach.  The water was too cold to get in – Ivan thought it was because it was so late.  I was really tired since I woke up early at 8:30 am this morning.  Ivan walked around while I took a nap on the beach – which is not sand but stones.

It was time to head back to the hostel.

That night, we walked to a street that was filled with so many people and souvenir stalls.  I also saw a place with billiards and arcade games.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had dinner at Jadran Kod Krsta restaurant which is known for it’s mussels.  Lil Dave got a banana penne.  Ivan and I shared a fish salad and mixed mussels with a delicious red sauce. 

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We also had a lovely white local wine which the waiter recommended – he said it went well with the mussels and it did.

The main street, the Promenade, with many bars was close by, so we walked there.  One bar’s music sounded good and we got a drink in there.  Ivan and I danced a bit.  It seemed like the bar was filled with lots of Russians and the Russian women liked to dance.  I can’t remember the name of this bar, think it was 3 down from Trocadero.  We had a Mojito and then went in search of a new bar.

It was great that we didn’t have to enter the bar completely to what kind of music was playing.  We went to Trocadero and it was Serbian music (I think!) and everybody was singing to it.  It didn’t sound very exciting…unless you were Serbian maybe..or Russian….or another Eastern Europe/Balkan country where this kind of music is popular (to us it all sounds like circus music!!)

We kept checking out the music at the bars, but none of it was any good.  Ivan thought we should go to Top Hill to check it out.

In one taxi, the meter was jumping up like crazy.  I told Ivan to check it since we’ve been duped before in a taxi in Belgrade.  It was going way too fast.  We made the driver stop, got out and I yelled something bad at him.    

Took an honest taxi up to Top Hill.  We didn’t go in though, as it was 20 Euros each to get in since a Montenegran band was playing.  Darn it!!  Oh, well.. we’ll be back in 2 days to see DJ Roger Sanchez here.

Got a taxi down to the Promenade.  I guess the taxi couldn’t go the way we came because of Police or maybe it was only one way on that road. It took a lot longer to get back. We really went for the scenic tour. We walked back along the bars, but they were already closed.  I guess they do actually close at 1 am like somebody said at the hostel.

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