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  1. We didn't have any firm plans for our final day in Montenegro, so breakfast involved a bit of discussion about where we should go. Dad was interested in seeing the Roman mosaics at a place called Risan, but the guidebook didn't make it sound like there would be much else to do there. We contemplated the idea of going to Budva, but it felt like it might be a bit of a comedown after visiting Perast the day before. In the end we settled on Herceg Novi, a town on the northern Montenegrin coast that we had passed through on the way from Dubrovnik on Monday. As the decision was quite last minute, we hadn't planned the practicalities very well, so we arrived at the bus station just after a bus to Herceg Novi had departed at 10.28. That meant we had a rather long wait until the next bus departed at 11.18. The tickets to Herceg Novi were good value though, costing just €4 each, and it didn't look like there were too many people waiting for the same bus... That turned out to be a false impression, of course, because as soon as the bus in question pulled into the bus station, a horde of people seemed to appear from nowhere to elbow their way onto it. Despite having been waiting for so long, we were some of the last people to manage to get on, but luckily did manage to get some seats towards the back of the bus. It was a little disappointing that it wasn't a particularly clean bus though, so we were hardly able to see out of the windows as we wound our way around the Bay of Kotor and towards Herceg Novi. I thought the journey was supposed to be about 45 minutes, but with a slight delay at the start and a few traffic jams leaving Kotor, it was over an hour before we finally arrived at our destination. Herceg Novi is a town built on the side of a hill, with the bus station being at the top, the old town in the middle, and the sea at the bottom. Our first challenge was to follow a series of winding and sloping roads, interspersed with staircases, in what I hoped was the direction of the town. Eventually we found a square which looked promising. We climbed up the steps and walked under the tower. Although the clock looks quite new, the clocktower itself is presumably quite old. There is an inscription one side of the tower in Arabic script, dating from the time when the town was ruled by the Ottomans. Just after we walked through the clock tower, we were waylaid by a man who wanted to show us his bookshop, which at 3.8 square metres is apparently the smallest one in the world. It can sometimes get a bit tiring in Montenegro with people trying to waylay you and sell you things, but in this instance it was actually quite a welcome intrusion. Herceg Novi is a town where the Cyrillic script is quite prominent, and as soon as I went into the bookshop I saw that they had a number of books in Cyrillic. I asked the man to recommend me something, perhaps for children, and came away with two books of Serbian fairytales which are going to be great Cyrillic reading practice. I also got a book about the history of Herceg Novi in Serbian, which looks like it's going to be an interesting read. As far as I was concerned, this already meant that the hour bus journey to Herceg Novi had been worthwhile We continued our walk downwards towards to the sea, passing the town's large Serbian Orthodox church. It looks really pretty, surrounded by palm trees, and it was really beautiful when we went inside it for a quite look as well. From the church square, more steps led downwards... ...and we soon had a beautiful view of the sea. We climbed down even further, past one of the town's large fortresses... ...and finally we arrived at the bottom, next to the large statue of the Bosnian king Tvrtko, who founded the town in 1382. One of the nice things about Herceg Novi is that there is a long promenade along by the sea, which makes strolling along quite relaxing. We walked along it for a while, and were amazed by all the different cacti growing along the edge. Some looked like they were about to flower... ...and in the end we found one that was already in bloom We walked for 20 minutes or so, enjoying the beautiful views out across the water. It was 2pm by this stage though, so we decided we'd better turn around and go back to the town to find something to eat. We found a lovely little restaurant with an outside garden area, completely shaded by three large trees. They had a huge grill where they were cooking meat, and grilled meat did indeed seem to be one of the staple items on the menu. Mom and Dad went for stuffed chicken and I went for a punjena pljeskavica, which you could translate as a stuffed hamburger, but I don't think that would do it justice All our meals were enormous, and very meaty. While I was eating I even had a view of the fortress through the trees. All too soon it was time to start to climb back up the steps towards the bus station. With views like this, the uphill was almost enjoyable though We must have taken a slightly different staircase on the way back up, because we soon came across some sights which we hadn't seen before. The first was this very small church... ...and the second was this display of enormous old anchors. From there we continued to walk upwards, through some of the narrow streets of the old town... ...and soon we could look back down towards the churches that we'd seen. We also found this funny little statue of a man, although I wasn't able to work out from the Cyrillic inscription who he was or what the statue was supposed to represent. Our bus back to Kotor was due at 16.25. We were at the bus station with plenty of time to spare. When I went to the cash desk to try to buy tickets fro the bus, however, they told me that I needed to buy them on the bus itself, and pointed out to me something which only looked slightly larger than a minibus. This made us a bit anxious to make sure we got on it and we got a seat, as there wasn't another bus to Kotor until after 6pm, so we had a rather long wait hovering outside the bus. Once we got on, the bus was actually quite good though; there was plenty of leg-room and the windows were a lot cleaner than this morning's bus, so we were able to enjoy views of Perast from multiple directions as we wound our way back around the bay. The only slight inconveniences were that the air-conditioning was leaking quite badly (although luckily not onto us!) and at one point we took a corner so violently that one of the curtains was detached from its hooks and landed on Dad's head. Apart from that, the journey was uneventful and we were back in Kotor in around an hour. We spent some time sitting on our balcony, enjoying the wonderful views of the bay as the sun set. Tomorrow morning we are heading back to Dubrovnik, prior to having to go home on Saturday, so we took the opportunity to go for a final walk around the old town of Kotor in the dark. The town itself looked really pretty at this time of day... ...but we were slightly concerned by this scary looking man, who has suddenly appeared on one of the town walls. I am glad I took a picture of the reflections here yesterday, to prove that I'm not going mad and this thing definitely wasn't here 24 hours ago!
  2. One of the reasons that Kotor is a good place to base yourself in Montenegro - beyond the fact that it is exceptionally beautiful - is that it's also well-situated for transport links, with regular bus services to lots of places in Montenegro and beyond. We therefore had lots of options for places we could go to on a day trip today, and after weighing it up we decided to visit Herceg Novi, a coastal town near the Croatian border which we had passed through on the way from Dubrovnik on Saturday. First of all though we needed to walk into Kotor and visit the post office. We wanted to buy some stamps for our postcards and Tim also needed to post a parcel of books to a friend who lives in Serbia. After breakfast on the terrace, we left the apartment and set off for the town. Imagine our dismay when we found not just one but two cruise ships sitting out in the bay! There's only space for one to dock at Kotor's harbour, so people were being ferried from the second one in a succession of small boats. This Cunard one was the larger of the two, towering over the walls of the old town. Look at how long it is!! As you can imagine, there was chaos inside the relatively small old town of Kotor with so many people descending. We fought our way through the hordes to the post office and successfully completed our transactions, before setting off for the bus station. It's only a 10 minute walk from the old town to the bus station, but as we walked we could see that we might be in for a rather long wait at the bus station once we arrived. The entire main road along the coast was grid-locked, seemingly mainly because of all the people disembarking from the cruise ships. Everyone who gets off the ships has to cross the main road to get into the old town, and there was a policeman controlling the zebra crossing, alternately letting batches of people and vehicles across. We bought tickets to Herceg Novi (€4 each) for a bus which was due to arrive at 11.18. As suspected, it didn't arrive at anything approximating 11.18; it was closer to midday when the bus finally pulled into the station. We had been allocated seats 20 and 21 so I was eager to see whether the bus actually contained 21 seats (not a given in this part of the world!). Happily it did, although none of them were numbered, so we just sat in a couple which were free The journey was beautiful, travelling around the Bay of Kotor again, past Perast where we had been yesterday and then onwards towards Herceg Novi. The traffic jams in Kotor were still causing chaos though, with the result that a journey which was supposed to take just under an hour ended up taking more like 90 minutes. It was around 13.20 by the time we arrived in Herceg Novi. The history of Herceg Novi seems quite complicated. The town was founded by the Bosnian king Tvrtko in 1382, who called it "Novi" on the basis that it was "new". The "Herceg" part was added later, being a corruption of the German "Herzog", the title of a subsequent rule who expanded the town. Herceg Novi was captured by the Ottomans in 1482 and they ruled it for 200 years, with a break in the middle when it was ruled by the Spanish. After that it followed the rest of the region in being ruled by the Venetians, the Austrians, the French, the Italians and the various incarnations of Yugoslavia. The part with the Spanish completely confused me, but they left behind the Tvrđava Španjola (Spanish Fortress). The fortress is not far from the bus station, in the highest part of the town. It only cost €2 to get in and explore. Nowadays the inside of the fortress is mostly used as a venue for outdoor theatre and cinema. It's in an amazing location, with views of the whole of Herceg Novi and the coast. We could see some buildings in the town which looked worth exploring later, including what looked like it must be the dome of another Orthodox church. We spent a while walking around the fortress. We particularly wanted to make the most of the views of the sea, because tomorrow we will be heading inland for our final destination of Žabljak. Then it was time to head down into the town. The main part of Herceg Novi is quite a long way below the fortress, and we followed a series of streets that were more like staircases than anything else to get down towards the sea. Once in the centre of town, we quickly found the Serbian Orthodox church which we had seen from up high. It looked beautiful, especially flanked by palm trees. We followed some more tiny streets through the old town... ...and found the church of St Jerome, which is the town's Catholic church. From here there was still a bit further down to go... ...until we found a second fortress close to the sea. On the sea front there is also an enormous statue of the town's founder, King Tvrtko. The view from behind him is possibly more impressive with the fortress. One advantage which Herceg Novi has over Perast is that it has a proper promenade path where you can walk beside the sea. We strolled along for a while, before finding a cheap restaurant on the sea front for a (rather late) lunch. As you can see, it was a beautiful location Once we'd finished eating it was time to start the long climb back up towards the bus station for a bus back to Kotor. We arrived at the bus station and I was about to go to the counter to buy a ticket, when we were intercepted by the driver of one of the buses which was sitting waiting outside the station. Happily for us, his bus was going to Kotor and he told us that we could get in and buy a ticket from him instead. Presumably it was some sort of attempt to defraud the bus station (who take a cut of the tickets they sell) but it worked out well because he charged us €3.50, which was less than what we had paid on the way there. With the benefit of hindsight we might rather have paid the extra 50 cents and had a slightly calmer driver. His driving style turned out to be somewhat aggressive, with a particularly memorable incident when he overtook three cars in a row, accompanied by much beeping of his horn! We made it back in one piece though, and were able to enjoy a final sit on the terrace before packing our bags for tomorrow's trip to Žabljak

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