Hurry – before it’s too late!

We had a really nice time in Montenegro. It was a long drive, but it was worth it.

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From Prague we drove down though Austria and Slovenia into Croatia and spent our first night at Plitvice lakes, a little way south of Zagreb.

If you can imagine a cross between Rivendell and what the famous Pink and White Terraces in New Zealand would have looked like before the volcano destroyed them, you’ve got the right idea.

The lakes were well worth the stop. They are very beautiful and in any case we needed a break from driving.

What wasn’t so nice was to find that prices seemed to have increased in Croatia quite a bit since our last visit.

One example was the entry fee to the park at 100 Croatian Kuna per person. That’s about 400 Czech Crowns or € 15. The park is extremely beautiful and the facilities were very good, but multiplying the price by the number of people who were there (literally hundreds – on a weekday morning) suggested that they weren’t just covering the costs or park maintenance, but instead “milking” the tourists for everything they are worth.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the only example “hyperinflation” which seems to have resulted from the increased profile and popularity of Croatia as a holiday destination.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s still very pretty, and it’s still well worth the visit. But don’t go expecting a relatively undiscovered and low cost destination. It seems those days have gone.

After Plitvice we went to Mimice which is on the coast and spent a few days camping on the beach eating Tuna steaks (which Markéta had never had and enjoying swimming in the crystal clear water, blowing bubbles and generally having a relaxing beach time.

1.jpgFrom there, we went on to another nice beach called Slano, and then spent the morning in Dubrovnick, and from there drove on to Montenegro.

After waiting for a very long time at the border, we eventually got our exciting new passport stamp. Motenegro has only been an independent country for a month or so.

Once across the border we started to look for an information office. (Croatia was hundreds of these everywhere – seemingly in every small village or town). Montenegro on the other hand doesn’t seem to have any of these at all (yet?)

This was a little bit of problem for us as we uncharacteristically done totally zero advance research and had no idea of what you should see and do when you are in Montenegro. We had also driven off the edge of our road map.

So we decided the best idea would be to stick to the coast until we found somewhere that looked nice.

It didn’t take long.

We spent a few days staying close to a beautiful medieval walled city called Kotor. It was very pleasant – the food was great, and it was beautiful and undiscovered by the hordes.

Kotor is located at the end of a fjord around which are a seemingly endless series of interesting sights. If this is a good example of what the rest of Montenegro has to offer then hurry there quickly before everyone else finds out.

Actually some people have already discovered the place. Perhaps 10% of the businesses in the centre of Kotor are Real Estate Agents – with signs in English. They seem to be specialising in selling local beach-front properties to English people looking for cheap holiday homes.

So in fact you should hurry to Montenegro really really quickly. Perhaps soon there will be Marks and Spencer, Curry Houses, Irish Pubs and “proper English breakfasts” available everywhere.

I have to say that I think that this kind of thing is terrible. I understand the local people who when faced with (in their terms) huge wads of cash, have little option but to sell out, and I kind of understand the English looking for a cheap holiday home. But at the end of the day this kind of thing will eventually rip the heart out of local communities and destroy something very special that has existed for hundreds of years. One Englishman might be OK, but 100 are not good.

We ran out of time before we had the chance to explore more of Montenegro. I suspect we’ll be back soon though.

We’re back home now. We had a great time, were happy, tanned, relaxed and not bored yet.

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