Exodus part 3: Dubrovnik & Montenegro
Exile Day 7, Back to Croatia. Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is very close to the border. I drive down the mountains with some amazing views of town. In 20 minutes I’m at Cilipi airport to pick my mom up. Not even that late.
Mamma is already outside the arrivals area waiting for her exiled daughter, who is not allowed into the USA yet and cannot go back to Italy unless she accepts to nullify her first six “quarantine” days outside the Schengen area. . Unfortunately, my mom has a cigarette in her hands. A lost war for me. I have been trying all my life to convince her to quit.
After dropping off the car, we get an Uber to the apartment we rented, right outside the old city walls.
We get ready, go out to catch a sunset and explore our surroundings.
Flocks of swallows everywhere. It’s impressive how noisy they are. They bring joy.
Dubrovnik’s old town is amazingly beautiful. A lot of stairs going down to the central part of the city make our walks a little hard for my mom. Big and suggestive walls surround the old town.
We stroll on the Main Street ‘Stradun‘, then get to the old port and to the lighthouse.
We have a seafood dinner at the only restaurant with a wait line: Kamenice. “It must be good,” we think.
We order mussels bussara (even if I usually don’t eat mussels). Despite being Italian, we also get some tagliatelle with shrimp and black ink risotto. Good food, but huge portions. We get back up to our apartment going around the clock tower and avoiding most of the stairs.
Exile Day n. 8: Beach time
We spend the day at Banje beach. Awesome water right next to the old port, ten minutes from our apartment.
I swim for 1 hour 10 as the way back from the tip of the bay is countercurrent and it takes me 40 minutes instead of 30. We have lunch at Banje right on the beach: tuna steak and calamari. Nice choice.
We go to a local supermarket, Konzum. Everything is cheap.
After getting back home, I enjoy a very tasty kefir with the thought “Wow, local cows do a really great job here”. Dairy products taste much fresher than in the USA, especially kefir and yogurt.
I go buy a portable charger from Tisak media. It’s close to the other door that gives access to the old town. The item is a little pricey, so the salesman almost doesn’t want to sell it to me. When I explain I really need it during my trip and it’s not easy to find electronics in the area, he asks me if I prefer to split my payment in installments during the year. This suggestion makes me think: The battery charger is not cheap, but at the end of the day its price is less than $65.
We have a vegan dinner at Nisha, suggested by my Croatian friend.
During a nice stroll to the port, where we decide to book a boat trip for tomorrow. Exciting.
Koločep: Blue and Green Caves
Exile Day n. 9: Boat Trip. Dalmatian Islands
We get to the old port around 10 A.M. and head to Koločep island on our private boat with captain. We want to see the Blue Cave.
I am particularly eager to visit it because I missed the other blue cave due to unfavorable weather in the beginning of my Croatian exile.
We swim inside the cave. Water is amazingly blue, the light is fantastic. We take awesome pics.
We get back on our boat: New destination the three green caves. Spectacular water here.
I swim to all three caves with my iPhone in one hand outside the water.
Yes, it’s waterproof, but it doesn’t really love being underwater for too long. I gladly take more videos and pictures while admiring the view.
Lopud and Lokrum
After our boat ride to Lopud, we stop at Sunj Beach for a swim. It’s one of the few sandy beaches in the area, more similar to those we are used to in Italy.
We hop back on the boat to go see Lokrum, the island right in front of Dubrovnik’s Old Town.
Gorgeous and clear water here too.
We get back to the old port around 2 P.M..
Cable Car in Dubrovnik
A pit stop at Café Royal for a lemonade and iced coffee is just what we need.
We walk outside the city walls, taking nice pictures from there.
The adventure is not over today: We get ready for our cable car ride.
The ticket is a bit expensive, if I can say so. 140 kunas, but really worth it! The cable car takes us up the hill with great views of the city of Dubrovnik and the whole bay. Looking from up here, the right side of the view reminds me of Rio de Janeiro.
We take many pictures from the hill waiting for the sunset and have dinner at the amazing restaurant Panorama: A table with view, of course.
I have sea bass and then try the typical Dubrovnik crème caramel. The ride back to the city on the cable car is great as well: At night you can see all the city lights.
Exile Day n. 10: More Dubrovnik time
I go buy the usual croissants for breakfast from a bakery next door. We take an Uber to the town of Plat and visit the beach in front d the typical restaurant Poseydon. Food is very fresh.
The beach is not the best-looking one. Water is very cold: There must be some river or source close by. I can’t even finish my usual 1-hour swim. I get out of the sea after 45 minutes. Swimming is something I love, but it has to be pleasant. I am done with extreme swims. Well, unless we are talking about huge waves and that’s a different story: They’re my bliss point.
We go back home and get ready for a typical dinner at Dubravska, on the terrace with panoramic view of the sea, the city door and walls. It’s beautiful. We admire another awesome sunset at dinner time. The swallows scream particularly loudly tonight, before going to sleep. I am feeling a bit sad. My mom is leaving tomorrow and I am not sure when I will be able to see her again. This Coronavirus situation is crazy with all the silly travel-restrictions not based on Covid cases, but on political choices. I am missing my family and dogs already. I told my Nikita I was going back home really soon and I hope I can keep my promise.
Montenegro: Herceg Novi, Portonovi
I take mom to the airport at 7 in the morning, rent a car from Avis (a new A3 sedan) and start my new adventure toward Montenegro, my country n.49.
I pass the border, which is not even a half hour away, and get another stamp. This forced exile is starting to feel like a fun game.
I drive to Herceg Novi, visit the old town, walk down to the beach area and the promenade.
I walk back up the stairs, get in my car and find the perfect excuse to go visit the very exclusive One&Only Hotel in Portonovi, described as the finest resort on the Adriatic Sea.
It’s almost lunch time: How can I not stop at this beautiful 5-star hotel for a well-deserved meal?
I walk around the resort and stop at Sabia restaurant. The manager is from my hometown in Italy, Napoli. I have a nice tuna tartare, some good parmigiano and way too much focaccia.
Before bringing me the check, I get some complimentary mini desserts. And my meal is done, beautifully.
Time for some pictures around the hotel’s luxurious pools. I do everything fast as I already have in mind my next destination.
Perast, Our Lady of the Rocks
Time to get back on my racetrack: After getting the car from the valet, I drive to Perast.
I take a boat to the little island with a church and a lighthouse: Our Lady of the Rocks.
I have a quick tour of the tiny island, then hop back on the boat. We go around the private Saint George island, rented by Hungarian church. Then, we get back to Perast, the oldest town in the Boca bay.
Locals tell me Perast has only one street, which is only 750 meters.
Kotor, Porto Montenegro
I drive to the medieval town of Kotor, whose Bay is UNESCO heritage.
This little city is all surrounded by walls, which get all the way up in the mountains.
I have an incredible cremino -a combination of ice cream and cream- from Cattarissimo in the old town. I definitely recommend it.
I get back in the car and drive to Porto Montenegro, but there’s not much I can see unless I am staying in a hotel or going to the yatch club.
Lustica Bay, Sveti Stefan, Budva
I go to Lustica Bay and take the walk to the big lighthouse that marks the entrance to the port.
I see the little town and then head to Sveti Stefan, now a private island belonging to the Aman Club.
It used to be a fishermen island and a haven for families seeking a shelter from the Turks and from pirates.
Sunset is not too far away. I book a hotel in Budva super last minute and head there.
After a much-needed shower, I drive to the old town. I have a long walk, almost forgetting where I have parked my car. I am starting to feel really tired: Today has been intense. After finding my car, I have dinner at Trópico, another restaurant suggested by locals.
I go back to the hotel. Exhausted. I have probably done and seen too much. Nine towns in one day.
Wanderlust at its best. Will I rest tomorrow? Highly unlikely.
For now, I deserve this bed.