Our initial plan was to drive through Montenegro to Kosovo, and from there through Macedonia to Greece. However, the refugee crisis was ramping up and we read an article stating that several countries had closed their borders to Greece, including Macedonia where razor wire had been strung up. So we altered our trajectory to Italy and booked a ferry from the Montenegrin city of Bar.
Somewhere near Budva, Montenegro (Budva, Crna Gora)
On our way down the coast, we attempted to find a nice quiet beach, but all the way down the coast were awful resorts and all the beaches were crammed with brightly coloured umbrellas.
so as not to make a fuss a parked in his shady carpark.
After beaching to our hearts' content, we drove to Bar to check into the ferry company. But on the way we spotted Sveti Stefan.
What was originally an outcrop of land containing a historic village (many of the buildings dated to the fifteenth century) and connected to the shore by a thin road and a beach on each side had been bought by a resort and turned into Aman Sveti Stefan. They bought a whole island thing! As you can imagine, it costs way too much money to stay there. We laughed and carried on.
While waiting for the time to embark on our overnight ferry to Bari in Italy, we explored Stari Bar. Set on a hill above modern Bar, the town was controlled by Venice and the Ottoman Empire during its history. An earthquake in 1979 cut off water supply from the aqueduct and the residents abandoned the town, moving down near the old port where they built Bar (though the buildings are in such disrepair from shelling during the Montenegrin-Ottoman war in the late nineteenth century and not simply from abandonment).
The aqueduct was repaired some years later and a trickle of residents returned, but even today there is a population of less than two thousand and Stari Bar is mainly an empty ruin. This was contrasted by the walk from the carpark (where we were charged €2.50 by a sketchy looking guy who I assume spotted a way to make a quick buck from hapless tourists who don't want their car keyed), which was lined by souvenir vendors and eateries.
It was the kind of place that you could find ice cream on tap.
Again, the place turned out to be an informal cat café, with several cats lazing around and occasionally coming over for pats. This is definitely a Montenegrin thing, and I like it.
We were the first car passengers to arrive for the ferry, and waited for quite a while to be ushered on board. We spent the time watching customs officials search cars. We ourselves must not have been Red Flag Material, as we were gestured straight through once looking at our passports, but some vehicles were searched thoroughly. One guy was questioned for a long time and eventually he just got back in his car and drove away. There was no fuss and no police involved, so why wasn't he allowed on the ferry? A mystery!
Once on board, we settled in to a few seats and slept in various contorted positions until morning came and we disembarked into the Land of Pizza and Gelato.