The drive between the Montenegrin coastal towns of Ulcinj and Kotor was said to be 90 km, taking 90 minutes without stops, although our guide suggested places to visit along the way.
We first stopped in the village of Mirovica, to see what is claimed to be the oldest tree in Europe. Having paid €1 we were shown a photograph, that in 2015 verified the tree was 2240 years old. The dating had been done by taking a cutting from the bark and sending it for analysis. The tree was in a central area with other old trees around it.
Moving on we arrived in the old town of Bar and walked along the steep but pretty, pedestrianised, cobbled street up to the old city. It was lined with lots of small cafes, bars full of locals and souvenir shops just starting to set out their wares as it was only 10am. At the top, the entrance arch had an olive oil press and a stone Venetian lion on the wall. We paid €2 each and went into the informative exhibition which told about the history and the earthquake in 1979. We followed green information boards to the various sites. The stone ruins were surrounded by wildflowers and grasses and it required lots of scrambling and climbing up steps, some of them very steep. However, at the top, there were excellent views of the industrial, new town of Bar, away on the coast, and the surrounding mountains. Bar is the only fortified city along the Montenegrin coast, that was not built on the seashore. A map highlighted all the key sites; the Haman, citadel, clock tower and amphitheatre. We also spotted a huge section of the wall that had slipped in the earthquake. We went with the flow and followed the well-worn paths and by the time we came out to the gate, felt we’d seen enough. Just as we were leaving, inside the entrance was a large tour group, and outside was a school group, whilst we’d only seen 6 other people during our entire hour’s walk around. Timing is all.
We continued driving on a narrow road lined with abundant bright yellow broom and pink and white oleander. Next stop was the viewpoint for Sveti Stefan, island home to the exclusive Aman Hotel. Apparently, David Beckham and Robert de Niro had both stayed there along with other famous people who value their privacy. We parked at a viewpoint for photos of the ‘island’ and also the large yacht moored in the bay. Our guide was determined to give us a better look and drove downwards to Villa Milocer where he persuaded the security man to let us in on foot. Through the grounds, we followed a path on a promontory towards the hotel for closer views. Neither of the hotel beaches were great, they were stony, and no one was sunbathing, despite being set out with umbrellas.
On reaching Budva, we passed the Hotel Splendid where the Rolling Stones and Madonna had stayed when playing in a concert nearby. We then had free time and stopped to have a drink at the Hotel Mogren right opposite the old city, sat under a vine clad patio. We then entered the old city walls and meandered through the narrow streets full of bars, cafes and souvenir shops, coming out at the marina, full of expensive large yachts.
We then continued onwards to the old town of Kotor for the last leg of our trip.