Changing our mind on Montenegro?
You’ve read about my metric mistake in Montenegro and the resulting crackdown the Staatenlos catamaran endured.
In the age of Covid-1984, me venturing to Montenegro constitutes “high-risk” travel (learn more about that at the bottom of this post). So it was my expectation that the Montenegrin authorities would be more lenient with me, especially over an issue as silly as mixing up meters and feet. But they weren’t. And that fucked up the whole trip. Or did it??
My past appreciation for the country
In reality, I chose Montenegro of all places as the location for the very first Staatenlos workation I put on. This was well before Staatenlos became a nation or a boat. Staatenlos wasn’t even that big of a business at the time.
As you can see, my appreciation for Montenegro, and Kotor in particular, date at least as far back as 2016.
And since then, even in the Covid-1984 age, I have promoted Montenegro as a low-tax location within Europe for some stateless people to establish residence or open a company.
So when I received a cold welcome upon docking at Porto Montenegro, it came as an unpleasant surprise. Montenegro, which is outside of the EU, is so much stricter about measurements on boat registration documents than Croatia, which is in the EU? How does that make sense?
I was not pleased with being held up and subsequently my post-Heuereka crew being unable to sail the Bay of Kotor and Montenegro’s Adriatic Coast with me. But as alluded to at the end of the previous post on this Montenegro trip, the mixup was in the process of getting resolved. And I would be back on the water aboard the Staatenlos sooner rather than later.
So would I put differences aside and go back to liking Montenegro? Or had bumbling bureaucrats forever ruined my view of this little nation on the Adriatic?
On the road
Still unable to sail, I did some Montenegrin roadtripping. I was now traveling with a French friend of mine who lives part-time in Montenegro. Also, Fabian, who you may remember from our trip to China, was still with me. He was the last member of my stateless crew from Heuereka.
We ventured around the fjord-looking Bay of Kotor, headed for the town of Kotor. The old town of Kotor and its walls and climbing opportunities, plus the views from above it, make for one of the main tourist attractions along the bay. That in addition to it being the first ever site of a Staatenlos workation.
When we reached Kotor, we went for a walk through town and ate refreshing ice cream.
Kotor is located in a secluded southeastern part of the inner bay. If you’re traveling by boat, it’s basically the endpoint of a trip around the bay. Once you reach Kotor, you can’t sail any farther.
After the stop in Kotor, it was time to pay a visit to another old town, Perast. In Perast, we would meet Andreas, my man in Montenegro who handles residency and company formation for clients.
Like Kotor, Perast is an old town located on the inner part of the bay. It’s situated across from the channel that connects to the outer part of the bay, where you find Tivat, Porto Montenegro and Herceg Novi. Perast is also located next to two small islands with churches.
We arrived in Perast and met Andreas. We explored the town briefly, ate dinner by the bay and took in a nice sunset. After dinner, Andreas took us back to the marina.
That night, I got the notification on my phone that my registration had arrived.
The next morning I was finally given the go ahead to enter Montenegro by boat. Unfortunately, I first had to first say goodbye to Benedikt. We had lunch together and said our goodbyes.
Into the bay
After finally completing the registration process, I did a little shopping and then set sail on the Staatenlos. The first part of our boat trip would take us back to where we just were. It was a two hour ride from Porto Montenegro to Kotor.
At last, we were in the bay, rather than driving or walking around it. The bay is very impressive to sail. Looking around, you are surrounded by tall mountains with lots of little villages.
And inside the bay, there are the two island churches. One of the islands is home to a Benedictine monastery. The other has a Catholic church – Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. We visited the monastery on Saint George and circled around both islands.
We then continued to Kotor enjoying the fjord landscape. We anchored just outside the harbor of Kotor.
After docking, we had a nice late afternoon and evening trying out our water toys. I swam to shore with my manta ray underwater scooter.
At sunset, we took out our dinghy and and headed to shore. In town, we had a nice cevapi dinner. Afterward, we returned to the boat.
Two friends of mine who were sailing with me set out to meet women. They took the dinghy and drove up and down along the promenade as they tried to approach women. They were not successful, though.
I had a relaxed evening aboard the Staatenlos.
Down the coast we go
The next day we departed Kotor, headed for Budva. Driving from Kotor to Budva is really short. But sailing takes longer. The boat trip is about 30 nautical miles. The waves were quite high and it took us about 5 hours.
We sailed back through the bay and then down the Montenegrin Coast, which makes for quite beautiful scenery as well.
Upon arriving in Budva in the early afternoon, there was no one to show us where in the harbor to dock. We docked on our own in Budva’s Dukley Marina. We’d be staying the night in Budva.
A friend who attended Heuereka, as well as his girlfriend, met up with us and we did some exploring of the Budva old town. We also went to the beach for a bit and then had a fun evening aboard the boat with some Ukrainian girls. Also, Andreas came and brought some drinks.
It so happened that it was Election Day in Montenegro. So we drank while watching Montenegrin election coverage.
I’d been to Budva before, so there wasn’t so much for me to explore… with the exception of the nearby resort island of Sveti Stefan.
Sveti Stefan is a small island about six kilometers southeast of Budva with a 5-star resort where many prominent people stay. The island is now connected to the mainland by a strip of beach.
The next morning there was a storm coming, so we headed out early. It was about an hour boat ride to the island. We got there and anchored in a bay in front of Sveti Stefan.
We enjoyed our time at Sveti Stefan. We went to the beach and went swimming. I had time to explore around the island with my manta ray underwater scooter.
I actually went to a nudist beach as well. I wasn’t expecting it but quickly found nude people staring at me. They looked angry.
So I went back into the water. I snorkeled around the island with my manta. It was probably the best snorkeling I have done so far with my water scooter.
I also got some work done. I actually recorded a webinar from this hammock:
There was still a storm coming. We weren’t sure if we would be safe in the open Adriatic Sea, so we headed back in the direction of the Bay of Kotor and anchored in a small bay along the way. We moored next to one of the nicest fish restaurants in Montenegro. Of course we ate dinner at the restaurant.
There was not a single dish on the menu other than bread that was not seafood, and I am allergic to seafood. But when I asked, they said they had good steak available. After steak, desert and a couple bottles of wine, we all were quite satisfied.
Over night, there were some large waves that came in. But we were pretty safe there at the marina and got decent sleep.
But we wanted to return to the more sheltered Bay of Kotor. The storm wasn’t the only reason we wanted to return. There was a lot of work still to be done on the Staatenlos.
By 6 am, we were already sailing. I woke up briefly and then woke up again when we reached Porto Montenegro.
For the next two days the boat stayed in the harbor. Our skipper Josh stayed with it. We got our solar panels installed and a new thruster for the engine, as well as some other work done.
We rented a car because we wanted to explore more of Montenegro by land.
On the road again
We set out in the rental car, cruising a stunning, narrow serpentine road up to Mt. Lovcen, which has a couple of the highest peaks in Montenegro. This gave us plenty of photo ops of the Bay of Kotor, both of the inner and outer bays.
Up on one of Lovcen’s peaks, there is a mausoleum for a Montenegrin prince, Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. There are about 300 or 400 steps leading up the mausoleum. It’s a bit of a climb. But at the mausoleum there are great views of all over Montenegro.
Driving down, we continued to Cetinje, the old royal capital of Montenegro. We didn’t stop. We drove right through on our way to the town Rijeka Crnojevica. Rijeka means river. Rijeka Crnojevica is a town located on the Rijeka Crnojevica. The town and the river have the same name. They also share stone bridges. The town is located between the Adriatic Coast and the Montenegrin capital Podgorica. It’s also very close to the large Lake Skadar.
Along the way to Rijeka Crnojevica, we stopped at a viewpoint with a horseshoe bend. It’s an impressive sight with Rijeka Crnojevica (the river) wrapping its way around and through canyons in the shape of a horseshoe.
We stopped in Rijeka Crnojevica (the town) and ate lunch in a restaurant. Then we got back on the road, a narrow road, taking us down to Lake Skadar. It was a beautiful drive down to the lake.
Lake Skadar lies in southwestern Montenegro and northwestern Albania. It is the largest lake in Southern Europe, and it shares its name with the Albanian city of Shkodra (Skadar is Shkodra in Albanian).
From the lake, we headed back to the coast to the town of Bar, where we were spending the night. I had a consulting call to take when we got to Bar. Others chilled at the beach. In the evening we explored Bar a bit and ate dinner at a pizzeria.
The next morning we made a stop at Bar’s old town before heading south toward the Albanian border. Bar has a nice old town that’s up in the mountains a little ways away from the coast. The town itself is mostly ruins, but it’s still nice to visit and it has cool surroundings.
Before leaving the old town, we drank some pomegranate juice. We also bought some figs and dates and then hit the road.
Driving south, we reached Ulcinj, a majority Albanian town located on the southern Montenegrin coast. Continuing farther south, we drove along sandy beaches until reaching Ada Bojana Island and the Albanian border.
Ada Bojana is an island in Montenegro next to Albania that is formed by a delta of the Bojana River. The triangular shaped island is bordered two sides by the river and on one side by the Adriatic Sea. On the seaside the island has sandy beaches.
We made a stop at the beach and again flew our drone over a nudist beach. 😉
Then we headed back inland to Lake Skadar. We stopped and ate lunch at a restaurant located by the lake and by the Albanian border.
It was then time to drive a scenic, windy road along the shore of Lake Skadar taking us to the main road, which basically cuts the lake in two. This was a slow yet amazing drive. We flew the drone over the car for a portion of it.
Veering away from the lake, we headed to Podgorica. We dropped someone off in the Montenegrin capital and then drove back in the direction of the Bay of Kotor, headed for Porto Montenegro.
Along the way back to the bay, we again went through Cetinje and up into the mountains, taking a different route initially but then getting back on the serpentine road. We were passing through the mountains just at the right time — at sunset.
We scored a view looking down from the mountains of the Bay of Kotor at sunset. Naturally, we made a bunch of photo stops on the way down.
A little after sundown, we arrived at the marina in Porto Montenegro. A couple friends were waiting for me there. We had a nice final evening on the catamaran in Montenegro, or at least I thought.
I was thinking of flying out of Dubrovnik to Switzerland. I didn’t realize I was going to be spending another day in Montenegro on this trip.
The next morning I went over things with Josh, then ate a nice steak, actually beef Tatar, for lunch at a restaurant in Porto Montenegro.
At this point I had a little time left over for exploration. I had never before been to Herceg Novi, a town I wanted to explore. So of course I went there.
I enjoyed checking out the town and later in the day I met up with some friends there. We enjoyed a nice dinner together.
Departing the “high-risk area”
In the morning I did take a taxi to Dubrovnik and boarded a flight to Switzerland. I was flying out of Croatia, rather than Montenegro, to avoid Covid-1984 tests and quarantine because Montenegro had been declared a “high-risk area.” At the time, Germany and Austria had put Croatia on the quarantine list, but Switzerland hadn’t.
Meanwhile, the Staatenlos was getting fixed up in preparation for its journey into the Mediterranean. Which will be detailed exclusively on Christoph.today…
As I departed Montenegro, the frustration over my metric mistake had subsided. Whether you’re boat tripping or road tripping, or even riding a manta ray, Montenegro is very beautiful. And even though this “high-risk area” has Covid-1984 rules, muzzle wearing is not that common and the level of taxation and hysteria is much lower than in most of the EU. Yes, I’ll be back.