This morning we were leaving not only the town of Dubrovnik, but also the country of Croatia for the rest of the trip (well, until we have to go back to the airport at the end), so we repacked our bags and had breakfast on the go. We hired a driver through a car service to take us from Croatia to our next stop, Perast, Montenegro with a stop in Herceg Novi for lunch. We wheeled our luggage across the shiny cobblestones and stole a few glances of the old city for the last time, happy we got a second at Dubrovnik but it was definitely time to leave.
Our driver arrived early in a black Opel. His name is Jasmin and he struggled out of the vehicle with a cane, so told him not to worry and loaded the bags ourselves. During our drive to the border(s), Jasmin pointed out a lot of interesting facts about the surrounding area (why an island is cursed, which mega yacht with helicopter and submarines belongs to a Russian oligarch, where he lived when the Serbians invaded) and had some real talk that has been repeating and resonating a lot with me lately – live your life to the fullest, because you never know when it can all get taken away from you. Six years ago Jasmin had been riding his motorcycle when he had an aneurysm that left him completely paralyzed. His wife sold his car rental business and left him. He now has full use of his limbs and is working again, often mentioning how lucky he is, instead of complaining about his lot.
The border between Croatia and Montenegro is like a double border – you go through a crossing to leave Croatia, then through a no man’s land, then another crossing to enter Montenegro. Both crossings went smoothly, and soon we were coming upon Herceg Novi, a quaint little old town (although Novi means “new”) that sits on the north end of the Bay of Kotor. Jasmin said he would chill by the car and smoke while we went into the old town for some lunch.
The old town is tiny, but clean and cute. We picked a restaurant with a charming owner and funny waitress and dined on beer, salad and fries and made friends with the local cats.
After getting the obligatory fridge magnets, shot glass and post cards (and trying to get away from the book seller trying to sell me his book of sonnets in English, French and German), we met back up with Jasmin and headed deeper into the Bay towards Perast.
Perast is very small, and the main seaside street is pedestrian only. Jasmin called our hotel to advise them that we were close, and the staff met us at the gate in a hotel branded golf cart. We said our goodbyes to Jasmin and scooted off to our hotel, sitting perfectly in an old stone building with the adjacent restaurant jutting out over the Adriatic Sea.
Perast is not very big, and the majority of the village is lined along the water; seafood restaurants, boat rentals, stone piers.
We dumped our things on our wood-beamed room and headed out to walk the seaside street. The weather is interesting and ever changing here. The Bay of Kotor is Europe’s southernmost fjord, so the bay is nestled between green stony mountains. Like in Vancouver, the clouds get stuck over the mountains, dumping their payload there while the bay lies drenched in sunshine. The water is clear and aquamarine, warm on my toes and the briny breeze reminds me of home.
We chose to stay in Perast over the more popular Kotor, as Kotor hosts cruise ship crowds and we wanted to take a break from getting bumped into.
We came across a bar hanging over the sea and decided to take a break for a beer (sorry Croatia, the beer is definitely better in Montenegro) where we relaxed and talked about the upcoming Canadian federal election.
We paid our tab and realized it was time for dinner, so we headed back to the restaurant attached to our hotel, lauded by the internet and travel books alike for its outstanding seafood dishes. Sadly for us, none of us really eat seafood, so we tried their non-fish fare (which was mediocre at best).
After dinner we turned in for the night, watching the lights from across the bay sparkle and turn in the emerald water.