This morning started with a loud rapping on the cabin doors as the warm and welcoming crew of the Sweaty Sveti (as we affectionately called our stuffy ferry) roused all her passengers for the impending docking by walking down the hallways and rapping on each door several times. We were already up and dressed, so we decided to go up to the observation deck and see the ship come in at the port in Bar. It was very exciting to look out from the ferry and see our first glimpse of Montenegro.
Some of us were more excited than others.
We saw FIL standing at the dock. He spotted us and we all waved.
As the boat started tying off to the dock, we figured it was time to go down to our cabin and retrieve our bags.
Apparently, the hospitality (such that it is) aboard the Sweaty Sveti extends only until the second that the boat docks, at which point you must get your ass off said vessel as quickly as possible. The way down from the upper observation deck had been roped off in several places, making it hard to find a “legal” way back to our cabin. We snuck past a uniformed steward who was about to rope off the last possible corridor, and ran back to our room. At the door of our cabin, one of the friendly receptionists from the night before intercepted us and called us by name. We nodded and gulped… yes, that was us. She said, “You must come reception. NOW.” We grabbed our stuff and sprinted after her to the desk. There, two uniformed men were waiting for us. Uh oh. Had we done something wrong? The more senior-looking officer looked at us reproachfully. “You follow.” It was a command. He pushed his way past a queue of other passengers waiting for the signal they could disembark. Even the girls were quiet as we hurried to keep up with him.
We scurried out of the ferry and onto the dock. FIL was standing there, smiling, and the girls ran to greet him. “Papa!” they shouted as they ran. I swear he was teary-eyed as he gave them both an enormous hug. Cousin B was standing there, shaking hands with the men who had escorted us out. B is a government official and so we figured he must have requested we be retrieved from the ship. As long as we were not under arrest, I really didn’t have an opinion on the matter.
Cousin B had his own car waiting, plus a second car with a driver, to pick us up. He asked if we were hungry. “YES!” we all said, in unison. It had been a long ferry ride and we were starving. The girls and I got into the car with the driver, and DH got into B’s car with FIL. I didn’t particularly care to be split up this way, but we were all headed to the same place. And as I later discovered, the driver- “Mike”- drove as if he was tethered to B’s car, that’s how close he followed him. So our mini caravan made its way to another section of Bar, and we stopped to stretch our legs while the restaurant prepared our table.
Bar is turning into a very nice tourist spot, still somewhat unknown to the US and western Europe, but already quite popular in Eastern Europe and Australia. The rain let up for a bit and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk.
Cousin B took us to a restaurant he knew. I later found out that they were not actually open yet, that they seated us as a favor to him. We started with a selection of Montenegrian cheeses, olives, meats, and tomatoes.
There was also a platter of smoked fish, which even DH liked. The second course was over easy eggs, and we also had some delicious breads.
I didn’t catch the name of the place, which is a shame, but as I am learning after two days in Montenegro: information is strictly on a need-to-know basis. And apparently, we did not need to know.
We walked some more around Bar and when it started to rain, we popped into the Hotel Sidro for second breakfast. The kids and DH had ice cream and I had a coffee.
We had a gorgeous view of the sea from the hotel’s patio.
When the rain let up a bit, we walked the boardwalk some more.
The mountains rise up in every direction.
Montenegro is a Turkish name for “black mountains”, but it is not a reference to their color (which is mostly white limestone). It refers instead to the fact that the Turks could not conquer Montenegro because they could not get over the mountains, and many soliders died there. The old name for Montenegro is Crna Gora.
From Bar, we drove to Budva on our way back to Podgorica.
We stopped at the Splendid, famous for being in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.
We had even more ice cream/cappuccino at the Splendid, and made many jokes about how Splendid things were there.
Down in Budva, we made a hasty pass through the old town while B met with someone. His driver, “Mike”, followed us. It had started to rain, and by the time we walked through the starigrad (old section of town), we were soaked. I didn’t want to risk ruining the camera, so no pictures of old Budva. Or Mike. I began to suspect that Mike was more than just a driver.
Finally, it was time to go for “lunch”. They kept calling it “lunch”, but I learned that the Montenegrians eat a very heavy meal at midday, followed by dessert in the evening. “Lunch” was at another restaurant between Budva and Podgorica. B’s wife, V, met us there, along with his mother. We had a lovely reunion and a wonderful meal. Interestingly, Mike came in with us, but sat at a table near the door.
From here, we went back to Podgorica and to B’s apartment in town. It is small by American standards, but very large by European ones. It is also very modern and well-equipped. Vineta has excellent taste and has decorated it exquisitely. We visited in the afternoon, then the kids came home from school and we enjoyed catching up with them. We watched some home videos of the family’s trip to America last year. Fun times.
In the evening, DH and FIl went back to B’s mother’s house to sleep. The girls and I did some laundry, then got settled in and to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a full day of sightseeing, though we don’t know where we are going or the logistics for getting there. That’s something we apparently don’t need to know just yet. 😉