Budva's Old Town, in all its understated glory.
Another in a string of questionable titled-related puns, thus prompting me not to give up my day job just yet. Arriving in Budva
instantly revealed a wholly different atmosphere from Dubrovnik, and with a plan of action already drawn up for this leg of the holiday, it looked upon first glance as though the stay at the commendable hotel Tatjana would provide a suitable base, both location- and facilities-wise. Budva comes across almost instantly as an up-and-coming resort, and the guide book's description of Budva as the coast's 'star turn' is not terribly far off the mark, especially when you consider its crop of tourist activities, and overall allure. The Old Town, for instance, is a highly attractive enclave of narrow streets and quaint shops, which also gives a reasonable insight into Montenegrin cities' old town cultures.
Grand views of the Bay of Kotor, where the imagery says it all.
Sandier beaches are to be found at nearby Becici beach, which lacks the 'Budva buzz' with which I had associated the place, yet clearly, not everything in Budva was pristine and flawless. This is a country with very much a cash-only society, and the restaurant scene in Budva proper seemed to be somewhat hit-and-miss and not often the case you get what you pay for. Souvenirs sold at stalls near the seafront were overpriced and underwhelming, and it became clearer that the real value-for-money purchases to be made in Montenegro were to be found elsewhere. In the realm of the excursions though, Budva did indeed come into its own, and an unmissable tour on any tourist to Montenegro's itinerary is the boat trip around the Bay of Kotor
which took in magnificent scenery and some of Montengro's more ornate-looking towns such as Herceg Novi, and Kotor town itself.
Unesco-protected street in the town of Skadar, Albania.
Another too-good-to-pass-up excursion for myself was a trip to Albania which, despite involving a 14-hour day, provided highlights a-plenty, taking in Albania's 3 main cities, Skadar, Durres and the capital city Tirana. Despite the relative poverty, Albania provided a snapshot of a country of contrasts, and proved that splashes of colour in the cities, alongside relics of the past and more modern developments were all you would need to familiarize yourself with Albania's state of affairs. The last port of call on the Montenegrin leg of the trip was a half-day trip to Cetinje
, a hillside town of a certain political and historic significance, and its omnipresent cafe culture alongside the buildings of relative note gave a highly liveable feel to the place.
The Blue Palace at the town of Cetinje.
Proving that I do indeed have a head for heights and a desire to see Budva from a prominent vantage point, a parasailing activity provided a fair few thrills, spills and unbeatable views, and also pretty much brought the stay in Budva to a close in a significant and memorable way. In short, Montenegro had delivered, despite its relatively small size and profile, and is further evidence of the folly that is striking off lesser-known / visited nations, simply because there is not enough hype surrounding them to draw flocks of tourists to their charms.