Herceg Novi, Montenegro (Herceg Novi, Crna Gora)
You may notice that Montenegro's name for Montenegro is quite different to what we call Montenegro - Crna Gora. However, both names have the same meaning: 'black mountain'. Many countries use their own language's words for "black mountain", and yet in much of the English speaking world and Western Europe we use the old Venetian name! Anyway, to the topic at hand.
Founded as a fortress in 1382, Herceg Novi is one of the youngest settlements along the Adriatic coast.
Wandering around the waterfront and old town, we discovered that some sort of festival was taking place, though it felt too similar to a school fair to garner interest from us. We departed quickly and visited the Serbian church of Saint Michael. From inside we could hear pensive chanting and figured that some ceremony must be taking place. The square on which it stands was lined by several cafés and we made our selection by seeing which one had the most cats.
This was the beginning of our discovery that all of Montenegro is filled with felines. It's a great place! We sipped at our drinks in the shade of an umbrella and revelled in cat company. A snaggletoothed and huffy dog made an appearance, but the he must have been too old and slow to bother the cats, or they knew him. When there was only ice left at the bottoms of our glasses we saw a teeny kitten stagger out of the darkness to the café's doorway and look out sleepily. As we cooed from afar, the kitten had a staring match with a few neighbourhood children and then the waitress swept him up in her hand to a safer place.
That evening we settled into an apartment in Risan and then went to see the town's main attraction: Roman mosaics. In ancient times the town served as a seafaring hub between Rome and Greece, so there was wealth injected into the town from trade.
The building that contained these famed mosaics functioned as an inn. The information board cheekily states "what other entertainment it offered, we leave that to the imagination". Constructed in the second century AD, the mosaics were repaired "somewhat unprofessionally" in the fourth century AD and were damaged further during reconstruction attempts after they were rediscovered in 1930. Despite this, a couple of the mosaics were quite intact.
It was a quick visit as though the information boards take a while to read through, there are only a few mosaics to look at and we were being eaten by mozzies. We bought dinner supplies from the supermarket across the street where we discovered that in Montenegro SpongeBob is called SunderBob Kockalone (potentially even better than the Croatian SpužvaBob).
The following day we carried on along the coast to Perast, which is one of the main departure points to two island churches.
While the waterfront was stunning, taking the road parallel back towards the carpark gave us a more intimate feel for life in Perast. Charming old stone houses with painted shutters and women sweeping dust out into the street pulled us away from the sense of a beach resort and more towards that of an ancient coastal settlement.
Later that day we made our way to the bay's namesake: Kotor! But that demands a post of its own...
Today's post was almost called: Hajduk About Town