When looking for a suitable holiday destination back in June, I remembered a few pictures I had seen on Facebook years before. The place looked absolutely dreamy: and it was called Tivat.
Tivat is a coastal town in Montenegro, with a population of only 14,111, and a pretty much unspoiled landscape. Although they do definitely get tourism, it is still a little under the radar (even the lady in Thomas Cook had no idea where it was when I was getting my Euros). Because of this, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited to find out!
We flew with Montenegro Airlines. It was certainly very basic, with seats that reclined accidentally if you put too much weight on them, and an offering of a cheese sandwich that was literally just cheese and bread; but it did the job. And after getting reseated because our original seats didn’t actually exist, we were ready to Montene-go!
Just under three hours later, we landed at Tivat Airport. They hadn’t had rain in months, but typically, it was absolutely chucking it down! Once we got off the plane, there was nowhere indoors to wait for a taxi, so we braved the huge droplets and ankle-high puddles in the car-park to flag one down. However we had a bit of trouble communicating to the driver where we wanted to go, even when I showed him the address of the Air B’n’B on my phone. The Air B’n’B host had clearly anticipated this, as he had told me to get the driver to call him for directions if need be. Except he didn’t answer. So, after a few attempts, the driver started driving anyway, whilst I got the location up on Google maps for him to follow. He took my phone off me to do this, leaving him with his phone in one hand, still trying to make contact with the Air B’n’B, and mine in the other, resorting to his elbows to drive as if it was completely normal and legal. This was scary enough as we found out very quickly that the roads are very thin and very full of erratic drivers. However, what really terrified me was the fact that it was still raining very hard, and the roads were so slippery!
Luckily, we made it to the location on the map, and still raining, we were left abandoned on the street. I called the host again, to inform him that we (at least thought we) were outside. A few minutes later we ventured down the road and luckily there was a man waiting in a porch for us. He introduced himself as the landlord of the building, and showed us to our apartment.
The room was well equipped but very simple, with just a bed, a table, and a kitchen area. It’s best feature was the beautiful view from the balcony, down to the Porto Montenegro area, and some mountains. It’s worst feature was the smell drifting out from the bathroom. It was from the open drainage vent in the floor, and was literally sewage. It was unbearable, but every time we got it under control with open windows and room spray that we stole from the corridor, we would be back at square one with it when we left for the day and came back.
Upon arrival in Montenegro, you have 24 hours to register with the local police. You have to provide details of your accommodation, the name of the landlord (if in private accommodation), and the dates you will be in the area, along with a copy of your passport. If you move area and will be there for more than 24 hours you must repeat this process in the new location. You get charged for the pleasure (it cost us somewhere between €10 and €20, and receive a glorified receipt (ticket) that you must have on you at all times in case you are stopped by the authorities. Naturally, this is the first thing we did.
We found the tourist registration office, and then walked down to explore Porto Montenegro. This is the hub of Tivat, where there are restaurants, shops and bars, and also a beautiful waterfront with boats and gorgeous views out along the coast. It was about a fifteen minute walk away from the Air B’n’B, which was in a very convenient location. The walk was very simple as well, albeit hilly. In Tivat, there is a lack of street names and order to streets and houses. Most houses are built up the mountain sides, and the main roads to access them are a one way track, which just gradually gets steeper and steeper. There are no street signs and so we learnt the directions home based on the location of a recycling bin.
We reached the port just as the weather was clearing up, and it was beautiful. My first thought was that it looked exactly like the Port of Split, in Croatia, as both are lined with palm trees, with a row of restaurants along the sea front. After a photo shoot (first things first of course), we enjoyed a walk around the sea front, getting a feel for the place, before heading back up to get ready for the evening.
Once back in the port, and after a photo shoot by the water (we have our priorities straight), we found a lovely Italian restaurant called Bevanda. Portions were very generous, and it was very reasonably priced (everything in Tivat is very cheap), and had an open front so we could enjoy what had turned into a lovely evening. When we had finished eating, we headed back to our balcony to enjoy a bottle of wine that we had purchased on our way back from our exploration trip earlier in the day.
We got home, and all was going well. We had the wine, the glasses, and the balcony. But when we pulled the foil off the top of the wine bottle, we realised our fatal mistake. When was the last time you bought a bottle of wine that wasn’t screw top? Yeah, us too. We just assumed it would be. It was not. But never mind, the apartment was very well equipped, there was sure to be a bottle opener somewhere. And there was, it was just a shame that neither of us were familiar with how to use it. But a few Google searches later and we definitely had it nailed.
We did not have it nailed. The corkscrew would just not get a grip on the cork, and the bit that is apparently meant to rest on the lip of the bottle that you can then use to push against to prise the cork up just wouldn’t reach. After a few attempts, involving pulling the screw out and back in again, the cork hadn’t budged, but had gained a few holes from the corkscrew being stabbed in in different places. At this point we were getting fed up, and somewhere between wondering if it was acceptable to pass it through the canvas sheet separating our balcony from next doors to the men we could hear and ask for help, and Googling how you can apparently use a shoe to open it, we realised we were not naturals and it may be time to give up.
BUT, I had one last idea to get to that wine that we now so desperately needed. There was a knife on the bottle opener: what if we used this to slice down the edges of the cork to release it from the sides, like you would a cake stuck to a baking tray, and then surely we will be able to pop the screw back in the top and lift it up easily?!
With Becca holding the bottle, I started to do just that. However it was not as easy as I had envisioned. Every time I slid the knife in it made a very satisfying slicing sound on the cork, and seemed to be doing something, except we couldn’t see any progress. I got a knife out of the kitchen and used this to scoop little bits of the cork out, hoping to be able to eventually scoop down the side and scoop the whole thing out. This tactic was working, and every few minutes we attempted to pour the wine, as we thought we had made a porous hole in the cork.
About half an hour later, a few drops came out, and we had never been so excited! The cork moved in response to the liquid- and we realised that instead of trying to pull the cork out, pushing it in was our best bet! It moved down the neck of the bottle very, very gradually, until eventually, with a satisfying plop, the whole thing fell in!
WE HAD WINE AND WE WERE INSANELY HAPPY AND PROUD!
But it was very, very corky. Every sip, we were spitting out bits of cork and as much as we pushed through because of our pride at getting to it, it wasn’t enjoyable… so much for our sophisticated evening.
The next day we took a bus to Kotor, another small coastal town a twenty-minute bus ride away (busses are the only mode of public transport in this region). When we arrived, we headed down to the harbour, as this seemed to be where all the action was. After a small walk around the area, we decided to go for a boat trip (I have come to realise that I am such a boat trip person, I just love being on the water!).
This gave us a fantastic view back to the Bay of Kotor, with the mountains surrounding it, and took us to a man-made island called Our Lady of the Rocks. Every year on 22nd July, locals come together in their boats and throw rocks into the sea around the island. This ritual is said to widen the island over time. On the island, there is a just a church.
From here, the boat took us on to the Old Town, which is completely separated from the thriving newer bay area. There were plenty of people holidaying in this area, however, we couldn’t see the attraction. Yes, the weather and the views were lovely: but there was simply nothing to do. We weren’t even willing to stay an extra hour there and go back on a later boat as we were offered.
Instead, we headed back as soon as possible, and delved deeper into Kotor’s ‘new town’, climbing the city walls, and seeing the most breath taking views on a drinks stop at this high level.
In the evening, we opted for a little restaurant back in Tivat; Al Posto Giusto. We stood in the doorway for about five minutes and they seemed reluctant to let us in, but when they did the food was fantastic. We then found a great bar with slightly unusual cocktails, a great atmosphere, and a good people watching spot to while away the evening with a good gossip.
The next day was even hotter than the last, and we decided to have a day of complete chill at the ‘beach’ (as it turns out, the definition of beach is just concrete slabs with sun loungers on them, next to the water). We found one of these areas not too far into the Porto Montenegro, however it belonged to a hotel and we had to pay €20 to hire the loungers. That was quite possibly the best twenty Euros I have ever spent however, as this was the ultimate relaxation, and just what we needed- we even had cocktails bought to us! After a dip in the sea (the metal steps down were actually a hazard- they were scorching to stand on!), I decided I would go on the hunt for a lilo, as it felt the perfect addition to the day. Luckily, I found a shop just around the corner, and came back with a pineapple rubber ring, and absolutely delighted.
I’m not sure what was more hilarious: trying to get in the ring, or watching the other person struggle to!
But, after about six hours of chilling in absolute bliss, we decided that we should head back to the apartment.
Becca went to get her necessary items out of her suitcase for a shower. I was sorting out my own suitcase when she asked me if I could try to open her padlock as she was having a few issues getting into her case. She explained that it was a different padlock to the one she had been using the past few days, but said that the same key would open both. This didn’t seem to be the case (no pun intended), as we were struggling to even get the key in the lock…
Five minutes later, it became apparent that Becca would be locked out of her suitcase forever, with her passport inside, as we still couldn’t get in. Heading towards last resorts, Becca decided to try a trick she had seen her colleagues use at her job in airport security: stab the middle of the zip with a pen and drag it around the whole zip. I was worried this would mean we were left with the opposite problem: a case that we couldn’t shut, but this didn’t seem to matter at this moment. Unfortunately, this never became a problem as the only pen we had was not sharp enough, and we broke the pen instead. With all hope of getting in quickly vanishing, and Becca resigning herself to her fate of wearing a wet bikini the rest of the trip, inspiration washed over me. I knew we had some pretty sharp knives in the kitchen drawer: I’m talking the quite thick, long ones that are basically mini saws. I had already been slightly grazed by one as I used it to spread butter on my bread for breakfast, and so, with nothing left to lose, I announced I was going to saw the padlock open.
My Year 7 days of Design Technology came flooding back to me, as I created an indent, making sure to keep my cuts down the same line. Flakes of metal were starting to come off, and the indent was getting bigger: but would it go the whole way through? I managed to get about half way, but it the further down the knife was going, the harder it was becoming to move it back and forth, plus, the more we were laughing the harder it was getting too. But, I kept persevering, determined to get this padlock off. In the end it only took about ten minutes, and one sliced finger nail, and the padlock was off of the suitcase and into the bin!
This was certainly a trip to remember.
Tivat is perfect for sun seekers who also want cheap and friendly, and is definitely worth a visit whilst it is still somewhat under the radar. Montenegro feels just like Croatia, but just lesser known, so I’m sure it won’t be long until it is on everyone’s Summer bucket list. This Montengrin adventure left us grinning for sure.