Chapter Seven: Kotor, Montenegro
I’m not kidding when I say that when I die, the first place I want my ashes scattered is behind the fortress of Kotor, in the old ruins. Pay tribute to me there with a shot of rakija.
I’ve never been in a place quite like Kotor. It lies precisely where the Adriatic meets an alpine zone, and I got to watch all the sunsets, rainbows, storms, and interesting plane landings right from my window. I never got tired of it. Some call Crna Gora “Belgrade’s laid back hippie cousin with a house on the beach.” That sounds good to me!
I was mesmerized by Kotor and this place where the Adriatic meets an alpine environment. To the point where I decided that when I die, I would like some of my ashes to go to the ruins behind the old fortress there.
I’m going to cover both Kotor and a small village I lived in between Kotor and Budva, called Radanovići.
The best word I can use to describe Radanovići might be bucolic or pastoral, but with a few modern apartments. The views are simply fantastic.
This area isn’t a shopping hub outside of odd tourist novelties and absolute necessities.
Shopping for groceries or even getting cash was a pain in the arse because the closest ATM/Bankomat was not within walking distance. I had to plan ahead.
The basics took more time, as a result. Honestly, for 3 months, this didn’t really bother me.
Tech: Skip it. If you need any kind of service or equipment, head to Podgorica.
Services like haircuts: I have no clue. The last hairstylist shop has probably become a souvenir shop.
Restaurants: Both Kotor and Radanovići had some good restaurants with good deals. Much more affordable than Dalmatia.
I had to rely on inter-city busses between H. Novi and Podgorica or Kotor and Budva.
I joked that hitching a ride was easier than catching a bus, but honestly, it’s probably the truth.
Find a friend with a car. I was not hard for me to make friends here, partially because one of the neighbors was hitting on me. And that’s another story for another day.
What it taught me:
As cheesy as it sounds, the biggest lesson I got from Kotor and Radanovići was to enjoy the simple things in life, like nature, a gorgeous view, watching planes land right outside the window from my desk, good neighbors, the kindness of strangers, and making friends with the local dogs.
I also learned about some of the Serbian traditions in December and January. Winter was like one big celebration! (Radonovici is a Serbian village, as is much of Montenegro)
See the video of the St. Nikolas feast. Damn.. that was a feast like none other. I’ll never forget it! This, below, was Christmas Day. This was a big deal for me.. to be invited for Christmas Day dinner.
I learned how to stay fit using what I found along the road into the hills.. rocks, trees, signs, and low stone walls. Because, food here, in December and January, is SERIOUS. And delicious!
Pretty much the same theme.. spending too much time in my apartment, working, and missing some good shots of the fortress and a HUGE rainbow that ended at my neighbor’s house after a rainstorm.
I also never made it back to the city of Kotor for Christmas (Catholic and Orthodox) or the city of Budva, but I’ll be back!
As with any of the old, small cities on the Adriatic coast, overtourism can be a serious problem.
The businesses that made the city so attractive, (as in an actual city with its own vibe and culture and residents) like bookstores and diverse boutiques, are giving way to an overabundance of souvenir shops. This is a shame.
One day, from the fortress, I could see a cruise ship pulling into the main harbor of Kotor. I groaned. This meant that within an hour, the entire city would be infested with tourists.
When I use this word, it may stound strong, but it’s acurate. It is difficult to move around the tiny city with so many people. The experience for everyone isn’t very high-quality.
I don NOT recommend cruises as a way to experience the Adriatic Coast.
Keep in mind that MNE (Montenegro) imposes a tourist tax of 1 euro per day.
Beyond the Visual:
The scenery here is simply gorgeous.
In Kotor: Grab an omlette in the piazza and a coffee to fuel the climb up to the old fortress.
In the evening, you can find a restaurant with good wine and and outdoor jazz. You can even rent an apartment in the city for about 600 euros per month.
My front window for the view of the mountains and the bay, and my side window to watch planes land at Tivat airport. Unfortunately, the iphone camera didn’t really capture how CLOSE everything is, nor the exact quality of light.
The very very short walk to a stream with a waterfall.
And oh, yes, the ruins behind the fortress of Kotor. I had such a strong connection to that place and didn’t want to leave.
As yet, I don’t have a theme song for Kotor. Yet.
The city of Kotor. It’s a gem. Climb up to the fortress from the alternate route instead of the one you pay 8 euros for. It’s free, gives you a different perspective, and there is the coolest place to stop for coffee, pršut, sir, and rakija.
Digital Nomad Friendlieness Rating:
C- For those who seek convenience as a major factor for their next stop, this may not be your ideal destination. To be fair, I was in a more remote village, which I enjoyed, and chose intentionally. Transportation and bike-friendliness: D-
Ease with everyday needs, C-
A lot of other factors can totally make up for the low rating. If you need to do a lot of creative work and don’t mind catching a bus every 4 days to a week to do your major grocery shopping, it can be perfect.
This place isn’t an “everyday” place, though, so as a place in general, it gets an B+ (the overtoursim in Kotor keeps it from getting my A rating) I would visit in the shoulder seasons.
Despite my lower grade for DN friendlieness, I would still go. It’s totally worth it. You may also find an apartment closer to a market or grocery store than I did, so keep that in mind.
If you go the remote route, keep in mind that the Bura winds near the Adriatic may keep you indoors more than you might like, without transportation.
Would I go back to the same place? Actually yes.