As the 192nd member state of the United Nations, Montenegro is a brand-spanking new country, complete with that coveted new country smell and a few (unfortunately) bombed out buildings. If one wants to be a new country these days, that seems to be part of the franchise deal.
Prior to breaking out on their own, Montenegro was the second half of the what remained of Yugoslavia. Physically, the two probably couldn’t have been more different. I found Serbia to be quite green, quite Slavic…Montenegro is very dry, very hot and very Adriatic. There is a strong Venetian influence in Montenegro exhibited strongly in the Baroque architecture and food and the far ‘happier’ and ‘zesty’ attitudes of the people there. While Montenegro did participate in the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia by contributing troops and hardware, and were the one the receiveing end of NATO strikes in 1999, the country appears to have come out that turbulent decade in far better physcial shape than other participants (although I am told the economy is in shambles).
I stayed in Kotor for about 3 days in a old Venetian house near the bus station. The owner, a Mr. Franovic was a retired geographer who loved to discuss geo-politics, especially in regards to China and the United States.
Kotor has the the ever-present old town but with an interesting fortification system above the town weaving it’s way into the hills providing one with an amazing view of the Gulf. While I would have loved to get up further into the moutnains, the Adriatic coast is indeed a frying pan and I doubt I would have been able to carry enough water to get even half way up the slopes.
I opted instead for renting a pedal bike and made my way up and down the Gulf trying to get rid of my farmers tan…
Kotor – Montenegro
Again, this is a country that I would have loved to have had access to my own motorbike.