While staying in Dubrovnik, we are very close to some other small towns as well as, the borders to nearby countries. During our first two weeks, we got a chance to visit a small town named Cavtat, and take a trip to Montenegro for Sam’s birthday weekend!
Cavtat, Croatia is a town tucked away in a beautiful harbor which makes this location so special. It is a small old town with plenty of walking paths and tightly packed cobblestone streets. It is home to the Baroque Church of St Nicholas, as well as the church of our lady of the snow. Atop the hill of Cavtat sits the imposing 1921 Racic Mausoleum, which has walking paths leading up to it for the incredible view from the top.
We caught the local bus to Cavtat, not really knowing what to expect. Our workaway host recommended it to us and we figured “why not?”. When we arrived, we were greeted by bright turquoise waters, even though the sky was cloudy and gray.
A Ghost Town
The town itself was empty, with everything but two cafes and a tavern open. It was a Sunday, so we didn’t expect a bustling place but were surprised by just how empty it was.
It’s really strange to visit towns that change SO drastically after the tourist season is over. We don’t think we’ve been somewhere like that in the U.S., even living in southern Georgia or visiting Florida.
Cavtat is pretty small so after walking around the tiny town, we walked along the paved path that runs along the coast. We walked along the rocky beaches and of course, made a furry friend during our visit.
This cat kept looking back at us, almost to make sure we were following him. Then, he stopped and we joined him, sitting by the water for a bit.
Another Year Older
In our second week at our workaway, we celebrated Sam’s birthday! For the past few years, Ty has made a cake or some kind of birthday dessert. Well, even being in a new place and not being able to read a single thing at the grocery store, he didn’t let that stop him from continuing the tradition.
He made a DELICIOUS chocolate cake with a chocolate drizzle. The drizzle may have been accidental since it was supposed to thicken up and be a frosting but it was still delicious. Yes double chocolate, Sam’s favorite!
For Sam’s birthday weekend, we got out of Croatia for a bit. We rented a car from downtown Dubrovnik, using the same rental company that we did in Pula, and headed south. We were excited to spend the weekend in Montenegro!
At the border, we handed over our passports and showed our proof of vaccination. For some reason, the border patrol staff stamped the LAST page in Ty’s passport instead of the next available spot!? This made Sam panic a bit about explaining the stamp on our way back but don’t worry, it wasn’t an issue.
Bay of Kotor
Kotor, Montenegro is a beautiful little town on the edge of a magical bay giving it some of the most majestic views. The old town is tucked up underneath a massive mountain, where you can take the old Kotor fort trail all the way to the top for some incredible views of the bay. The Church of Our Lady of Remedy rests a quarter of the way up the mountain, and at night shines its light over the town.
Luckily, our drive was only 2 hours from Dubrovnik and we arrived in Kotor by dinner time. We stayed in a boutique hotel across the bay from the old town and had an amazing view out of our window.
After checking in to our room, we headed to the old town of Kotor to get dinner and walk around. We ate at Pescaria Dekaderon and ordered a delicious veggie pizza and some local beer. Our server asked where we were from and knew of Michigan because of college basketball!
Hiking at Sunrise
In the morning, we woke up before sunrise and started our hike. We hiked up the switchback trail, called The Ladder of Kotor, to see the Bay of Kotor from above. We didn’t make it as far up the trail as we had planned, but the view was still amazing. This place is unbelievable!
Driving Through Montenegro
We headed back to our hotel for breakfast (it was included and so delicious) and were the only ones in the place. After breakfast, we headed to the winding serpentine road outside of Kotor, heading of Lovcen Mountain. Look at these switchbacks:
As we drove up, the views got foggier and foggier. The sunny forecast was a bit off and we ended up driving through thick fog, getting worse as we drove up.
Sadly, because of the fog, we didn’t get to stop at some other viewpoints we had planned.
We continued our drive, heading for Lake Skadar. As we drove through the narrow back roads of Montenegro, we were stopped by a herd of sheep running down from a hill into the road. They made their way SLOWLY down the road in front of us. They really didn’t care that we were there and stopped multiple times to chow down on some grass along the road.
Eventually, they cleared the path and we continued our drive. When the sky cleared up, the views we had were beautiful. We stopped multiple times to take in the scenery around us before arriving at our destination.
Lake Skadar, Montenegro…how would we describe it? Unwavering beauty in a seemingly unknown place. This massive lake is around 370 sq kilometers and is fed by a river and a series of freshwater springs that are underneath it.
It is also a bird watcher’s paradise (which Ty loved!), there are over 260 species of birds that come to this lake. We got to see a Kingfisher, one pelican, some grebes which can swim underwater to catch fish, and some egrets. The freshwater carp are the fish the locals catch and eat, we got to try some!
We arrived in Virpazar, a tiny town on the edge of the lake, and were in search of a place to have lunch. As we drove down the street lined with closed shops and taverns, a man waved us down. He asked if we were looking for a place to eat and directed us to a nearby restaurant at the Hotel Pelican. We weren’t sure how to feel but with everything else closed, it was our only option.
We were not disappointed. The staff was super friendly and even gifted us a box of sage tea, plus free dessert! The food was pretty good but we ordered a bit too much. We tried a vegetable soup and fresh-caught fish from the lake but also ordered fries and a local cheese plate.
Out on the Water
After our late lunch, we took a boat tour on Lake Skadar. Our tour guide pointed out various birds that live on the lake including the gorgeous “common” kingfisher and a pelican (a species native to this region only)
When we were out in the middle of the lake, our guide asked us if we wanted some pictures. Of course! We got to pretend to drive the boat and he even had Sam stand near the front edge with her arms stretched out… she was VERY nervous but did it anyway.
We pulled back into the dock as the sun began to go down. The views from the boat were so pretty, we couldn’t stop taking pictures, trying to capture it all.
Rain Rain Go Away
Sadly, our second day in Montenegro was full of rain. It poured most of the day and we didn’t get to see much, but that didn’t stop us from trying.
Before it rained too hard, we explored Kotor some more since we had only been there in the dark. We stopped at a cute souvenir shop full of homemade cat-related items. There are many cats in Kotor and the rain did not stop them from being out and about.
We drove around to see some nearby towns like Tivat, Rose, and Herceg Novi. However, because of the rain, we didn’t get out of the car and explore much.
When it Rains, it Pours
As the day continued, the weather just got worse so we checked into our next accommodation early and spent the rest of the day with Netflix.
When we checked in to this Airbnb we were greeted with shots of rakija (homemade liquor common in the Balkans) and fresh oranges. The rakija was VERY strong and we both barely managed to choke down a sip to thank our host.
The next morning, it was still rainy. We went out for breakfast before heading back to Dubrovnik and were basically attacked by a cat desperate for attention. This little cat forgot it had claws or wasn’t afraid to use them to get attention…
Back to Dubrovnik
We headed back to Dubrovnik, wishing we had better weather this weekend. Kotor and the surrounding area is such a beautiful place. The mountains surrounding the bay, make for a dreamy landscape. Although we are so grateful to have made the trip, we feel like Montenegro will call us back one day for sure!
Until next time,
Sam and Ty