Blue sea meets black mountains – Bay of Kotor. Montenegro.

MySlowTrip - Montenegro

Montenegro always rang an exotic and somehow mystic bell in my imaginations. This small country at the southern tip of the West Balkans was part of Yugoslavia under the dictatorship of Josip Broz Tito. I have heard that it had beautiful beaches – in the 50s and 60s Hollywood celebrities used to rub shoulders on the peninsula of Sveti Stefan – and a wild outback with the last natural jungle in Europe. So I decided to head south 1,000km by car for the Bay of Kotor. I took my wife and daughter along the trip.

On our last of 6 border crossings we left Croatia and entered Montenegro. It was a bit like time travel. Here Croatia, extremely well developed through 3 decades of tourism, there Montenegro, quite underdeveloped at first sight. After driving a winding, single-lane road along the coast we arrived at the perfect retreat: the Blue Kotor Bay Premium Spa Resort, a true Five Star gem, new, modern, and comfortable. Exactly the way we like it.

MySlowTrip - Montenegro Blue Kotor Bay Premium Spa Resort pool

Entering the immaculate, air-conditioned hotel lobby from the boiling heat of the rough outside environment reminded me how it must be for desert nomads to enter an oasis. The service was extremely friendly and helpful. We booked a swim-up Room, what a great decision. It gave us direct access to the pool from our terrace in front of the room.

The views from the room were stunning. First row to the Bay, just a few steps to the beach exclusively for hotel guests. As a backdrop the magnificent mountain ranges of the “Black Mountains”, which means Montenegro. And above the blue skies. A nice restaurant on a terrace right next to the beach made the stay also a culinary treat. We enjoyed it very much. Value for money was also great. €300.- per night for the three of us including breakfast. So check it out! One tip: fly to Podgorica Airport (capital of Montenegro), the Hotel organizes a shuttle for about € 80.-.

After a few days at the pool / on the beach I needed to explore the area. The town of Kotor at the end of the huge Bay was the obvious choice. A picturesque old town, secured by massive ancient city walls, with white stone houses and small alleys like in a maze where You could get easily lost. Lots of good Konobas (=restaurant) to indulge in delicious local delicatesses, mainly fish, meat and vegetables. All at very reasonable prices.

Amazing how many churches one can fit into a walled ancient Old Town. That is a testimony of how important religion in this part of the world has been during history and still is up to the present day. The predominant religion in Montenegro is Orthodox Christianity. We were lucky to pass by during a Sunday morning Mass. The church was so packed with people that we could hardly enter to listen to the beautiful tunes of the choir.

MySlowTrip - Montenegro Blue Kotor Old Town
MySlowTrip - Montenegro Blue Kotor Old Town

The other day we chartered a private motorboat with a local skipper and cruised along the bay. After a stop on an island with an old church in the middle of the Bay (see headline photo), we crossed the bay over to the East side and went ashore at the tiny but picturesque village of Perast. Try it out, You will find yourself like on a movie set.

After this pleasant experience we went on to something more adventurous. Our skipper took us across the whole bay to something unique. During World War II, the Bay of Kotor was a strategically highly important Naval base for Tito. Hence, he built quite an infrastructure there. Amongst this, he carved Submarine “garages” into the hills, where they could not only hide but be maintained and serviced for their next mission.

The deeper we went into one of these submarine bunkers, the spookier it got. I had a serious goosepimple feeling. For a moment I thought I was in a James Bond movie and the villain will appear any moment. What a great, truly unique experience to round up our memorable trip to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.