June 3, 2016
The drive to Kotor, Montenegro makes a fun car excursion from Dubrovnik. A scenic drive with the coast on one side and green rugged mountains and valleys on the other. Most of Montenegro’s towns still have a shabby post-communist feel, but medieval Perast and Kotor are a delight.
We rented a car for the day from the Hertz agency just outside the old town wall near the Buza Gate, about a 10 minute walk from our soba above the Stradun on Zudioska street. We picked up the car at 8am when they opened to get ahead of some of the traffic going to this popular day trip destination from Dubrovnik.
Beautiful morning leaving Dubrovnik with a gorgeous view in the best light of the morning from the top of the road as you are leaving town.
Crossing the border on the main road was easy with the green card from the car rental company. Make sure to tell the car agency that you are going to Montenegro to ensure getting the proper paper work. There wasn’t a lot of traffic when we arrived at the border, a half a dozen cars or so, but it goes rather slowly, took about 20 minutes or so in total.
On the way back we tried the alternate border crossing, Konfin, recommended by Rick Steve’s. Not a soul in front of us and next to no traffic on this pretty little back road. To find it from Kotor head to Njivice out of Herceg Novi, cross the border and then follow the S16 back to route 8.
The back road parallels the main road, route 8, for about 15 to 20 minutes. From Dubrovnik take the S16 to Vitaljina. After crossing the border head into Herceg Novi to hit E65.
Be sure to read about Kotor’s history and setting. It’s a worthwhile read and gives the drive sense of time and place. The particular shape of this bay with its ultra-narrow entry made it a strategic port since before Christ.
While very popular with cruise ships, on this particular day there were none in the bay.
Traffic was moderate as we headed around the bay. We stopped for a few photos but as showers were predicted for around noon we didn’t stop in Perast on the way to Kotor.
Arriving in town around 10:30 we walked around and covered the main sights in about 45 minutes. However it’s such a picturesque setting despite the number of tour groups that it’s a fun place to hang out and take pictures or shop. I just loved the back drop of rugged Mediterranean hills that tower over the town.
We thought about climbing the stairs that lead to the fortress above town but just as we were contemplating whether it would rain or not, it started to rain. We instead headed to a restaurant for lunch, where it continued to rain off and on in heavy downpours for the next hour or so. The forecasters got this one exactly right.
City Café has OK food and friendly service. I got the squid ink risotto – which was nicely flavored with squid ink, but was really just rice with pieces of squid rather than a classic creamy risotto. Don’s vegetarian spaghetti had a good mix of cooked vegetables, including a type of green pepper and zucchini. We also ordered the Serbian salad, with spicy pepper -very unusual for Europe – flavorful tomatoes and cucumbers. They also serve toasted pita bread with the meal.
During lunch it continued to pour. The covered outside dining terrace didn’t handle all the water during the heaviest downpours and some diners did get a bit wet.
About an hour after it started to rain it cleared enough that we could walk around town again. The town now had a fabulous background of turbulent black skies to set off the Venetian edifices.
Not wanting to get stuck in another down pour -thunder was still rumbling in the mountains – I took a few quick shots and we headed back to Perast, hoping for a clear spell. It rained on and off heading around the bay. Traffic was heaving heading into Kotor.
In Pestar the weather cleared long enough for a walk along this historic town’s pretty waterfront. Lovely Venetian facades set against a lush landscape of palms and lemon trees with dramatic turbulence continuing over the bay.
As we headed back to Dubrovnik we left most of the unsettled weather behind but the skies were still overcast.