Sunday, 30 August 2015

Montenegro – Retrospective

An overview

Montenegro is located North of Albania on the Adriatic sea.  It was once part of Yugoslavia and following the breakup of that state Montengrans successfully voted for independence, forming the nation of Montenegro in the 90’s.  Montenegro is welcoming of cruisers and has reasonably good facilities.

Entry into Montenegro is very straightforward with the customary visit to port authority, police and customs.  Unfortunately, the cost of cruising in Montenegro is quite high.  We paid just over 100 Euros for a 1 month cruising permit (vignette).

The Good:
  • Kotor.  This is a lovely Unesco World Heritage site perched on the edge of the bay that takes its name.  Kotor is a quaint and picturesque city with a fascinating old town.  The people were welcoming and the scenery spectacular.  Kotor also has a reasonably secure anchorage – we know because we were caught in a huge thunderstorm with winds in excess of 32 knots one night while there.  Our anchor held admirably in the thick mud, while we watched a much larger powerboat drag and desperately motor against the wind in order to avoid running into other boats or aground.
  • The Euro.  In spite of not being in the EU or the Euro zone, Montenegro has adopted the Euro as its currency.  When they became independent, Montenegro adopted the deutschmark so I guess it followed that they took on the Euro when Germany and others formed the single currency.  Transacting in Euros is easy, we had lots on hand from Greece and it saved us from having to figure out another exchange rate.  Hooray for common currency (in spite of the economic challenges it creates for less wealthy nations – see Greece).
  •  The Bay of Kotor.  We spent more than a week of our 10 days in this picturesque bay which is unusual for the geography of the area.  The Bay of Kotor is a huge fjord with steep mountainous sides and narrow passages that open into grandiose bays and views of tiny villages settled on the edge of the water.  It’s breathtaking until you realize you’re about to be run down by a cruise ship taking thousands of others to see the sights.

The Bad:
  • Price of cruising.  100 Euros for a 38 foot boat seems like a lot.  On top of that, there are relatively few places to anchor.  Case in point, we checked in at Bar late in the afternoon and with no nearby anchorage were faced with either a night sail to the nearest stopping point or a night in the marina at a cost of 70 Euros.  It was an expensive welcome to the country.

The Ugly:
  • Night Clubs.  Couple the lack of anchorages with expensive marinas and the fact that the marinas seem to be build right beside the local night club and you end up with a hellish experience.  That was us for the one night we stayed in Herceg Novi.  Not worth the visit.  We sat up until 1 AM not really listening to the music as much as feeling it in your chest when you tried to breathe.  We couldn’t carry a conversation 3 feet from each other, never mind sleep.  Word to the wise, don’t dock at Herceg Novi.

The Bottom Line:

Montenegro is an interesting country, fully in the throes of capitalism and taking advantage of the perceived tourist riches.  It is not a cheap place to visit.  That said, the Bay of Kotor is stunning, well worth seeing once in your lifetime and worth the cost of a cruising permit.  We likely won’t visit again but are not unhappy that we did the first time.

1 comment:

  1. We are planning on cruising Europe next year and I am enjoying the good the bad and the ugly.
    Ann & Barry Fleet of 2006
    s/v Cat's-Paw IV