Montenegro

Everything is just right in magical Montenegro

Every traveler knows that one of the most powerful people you will meet on your gambols are the border police. They hold a double-pronged sword; the ability to either bar you from entry into their country or grant you access.

Each time I have been pulled aside (and there have been quite a number of times, thanks in part to melanin aka ‘ hashtag black girl magic’); I’ve resisted the temptation to roll my eyes out of their sockets, while muttering, “Ah, not again!” I’ve resisted the temptation to huff and puff, or stomp my feet in annoyance.
Instead I’ve developed the uncanny ability to “read” facial expressions when placed in the naughty corner by immigration, before entry or exit into/from their land. I’ve learnt that it’s not the time to be arrogant, or mention my credentials, and it’s certainly not the time for jokes or sarcasm. I’ve learnt it is the time to be serious, and not giddy with amusement over anything. I’ve learnt to answer their questions quickly, honestly and succinctly.  To sum up everything, I’ve learnt to channel my ‘resting bitch face’ in moments like these.

Border police checking passports.

Most of the border policemen are genuinely curious like the Somali who wondered why I was entering their country with no contacts on ground, a day after the Al-Shaabab had bombed Jazeera hotel. Why I was touring what is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world; Mogadishu. They gave me a piece of advice, “Stay holed up in the hotel, don’t come out…this is no place for tourists!”
Some have been quite harsh, like the Singaporean border police with vicious Alsatians on leashes, who glared and told me in a clipped tone of voice, to “Stop snapping pictures!”
Occasionally, you’ll come across flirty chatty ones, with the gift of gab and a palpable energy…then there are the silent ones who seem begrudging, and make one feel that coming into their country was a big mistake, a crime in itself; like the Cambodian border policeman who quietly examined my passport with a thick magnifying glass like they were looking for a blueprint to some secret code or the Moldovans who fired a battery of questions, that included our faith affiliation and what we were going to do in their country. To the Moldovan border police; I responded that we were tourists on vacation.
When caught up in ‘this predicament,’ just realize who you are and who they are, and where you all are at and everything will be dandy. Crossing out of Montenegro and into Croatia, I did something ballsy.
We came out of the bus, and had to stamp our passports one at a time in the little cubicle wherein sat two border police.
When it was our turn (Little Miss Ashley and myself), I presented my passport boldly and to the little one’s chagrin, asked the border police whether I would take a picture with him.
He looked at me wryly, with a smile on his face, looked back down at the passport pages he was flipping, looked back up at me and tapped the shiny badge on his chest and smiled a no. Though I didn’t succeed, It just showed me how cool and relaxed Montenegrins are.

Boats and yachts at Kotor.

Montenegro is a scenic, beautiful country, carved out into an identity of it’s own. We haven’t been to every country in the world, but suffice to say, Montenegro offers us a Goldilocks experience. Something reminiscent of the little girl’s adventure into the abode of the three bears, sampling their porridges, the cosy feel of their beds, until she lands onto the just right. Montenegro offers us the experience that says everything is just right.
We’ve warmed up to Montenegro in a jiffy; the locals seem welcoming and hospitable, willing to chat with us, the one question we keep on getting is, “Where are you from?” There is something in the air that urges us to let down and relax. My guess is that it is the twin combo of mountains meet the sea; I’ve never quite seen such scenic views as these.

Evening views of the Bay of Kotor.

Our journey to Kotor ideally begins when off the bus after several hours; first from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik, then from Dubrovnik to Kotor. We are quite flustered and weary by the time we get off at Kotor Bus station.
Standing there is Nenad, he offers to drive us to our Apartment Durovic on Prcanj, for an amount of 20 euros. We arrive, and are met by Danijela’s mum and brother, who brief us about our surroundings. The apartment has a clean smell and looks swanky and spotless. I’m delighted when her mum swiftly places slices of cake on a saucer in our room. The apartment, which I got through Booking.com is quite homely. The tiny kitchen is clean, and right across our room. The following day we get up for the boat ride at 10am.

Outside Apartment Durovic.

The courtyard; Apartment Durovic.

Our accomodation; Apartment Durovic

Little Miss Ashley relaxing on the verandah, Apartment Durovic.

I’m additionally bedazzled by Kotor’s daytime beauty, the mountains and clear blue azure waters, as our boat pushes through the waves to get to the Lady of the Rocks Island. We stay there for thirty minutes, then have to get back. I end up smashing my Nikon camera by accident, but swiftly remember I have travel insurance and that buoys my downtrodden spirits up. When we get back to our apartments, we walk around briefly then get to Kafana centar cafe for a reasonably priced yet tasty lunch.

Boatride to the Lady of the Rocks Island.

Views of the Lady of the Rocks Island.

Lunch is served, Kafana cafe

The following day as promised, Nenad gives us a complimentary full day tour which includes panoramic views of Tivat and Kotor, and an hour swim at Budva beach.

Little Miss Ashley does the hairflip at one of the Budva beaches.

Panoramic views of Tivat and Kotor in sunset.

Blue line bus rides around at hourly intervals to take people around Kotor at the price of 2 euros.

After a couple of days we headed over to Split, Croatia.
I have a feeling I will be back in Montenegro. It was too short a trip!
(I had part complimentaries for this trip. Apartment Durovic offered us a free boat tour, and Nenad in his capacity as tour guide was kind enough to drive us around Kotor, Budva and Tivat.)

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