Once past the border, in front of us we could see mountains again and after we passed through the busy and rather untidy outskirts of the city of Herceg Novi the road reached the sea and started to follow the winding coast line of the picturesque Bay of Kotor and in front of us now was one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions.
After a short while we arrived at the town of Kamaria and identified our accommodation, the Casa del Mare, which was a brand new boutique hotel where we had one of the best rooms in the place with an expansive view over the Bay, the main road and… the recycling bins! After we had checked out the mini-bar prices and settled in we took some advice from the hotel owner on where to go and what to see we then set off to circumnavigate the Bay and drive to Kotor on the other side.
There was a ferry boat across the narrowest point of the Bay but we had decided to drive the forty kilometres or so and drop off now and again along the way. The first stop came quite quickly at a lay-by with a good view both east and west and looking across to the Italianate town of Perast, once an important independent Venetian ship building town but now a modern tourist trap. There was a jewellery stall in one corner of the lay-by and while Kim looked at sparkly things on chains I examined an information board about the Bay. In the middle were about twenty clear holes about the thickness of a pencil and on closer examination I realised that they were bullet holes. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end because whoever had been using it for target practice was clearly a very good shot and it occurred to me that I could be in someone’s rifle sights even as I stood there.
I was beginning to become aware that Montenegro might be a bit different to anywhere else that I had been before and I wasn’t inclined to hang around the lay-by any longer than necessary so I encouraged Kim to hurry up and leave and we carried on around the Bay of Risan passing yet more radar speed traps on the way to Perast.
Here was a place with a parking problem with a single road not wide enough for two cars to pass and no parking spaces. At the far end of the town I found one but before I had switched off the engine a waiter from a restaurant came out, explained that it was only for customers and shooed us off. The odd thing was that he didn’t take the trouble to ask if we wanted to use the restaurant and we might have done because it was just about lunchtime but not now after that unfriendly welcome.
So we drove back to the other end of the town and parked right on the edge and walked along the seafront and back to the centre. It was very quiet with very little activity and this was probably because now it was very hot indeed. We walked around the pretty centre with its church and a few shops, up and down some crooked steps that didn’t go anywhere in particular and then found a place for a beer and a spot of lunch right on the water’s edge.
After a debate about whether or not to take a boat across the Bay to two islands with churches on them we decided against the €5 charge and as the time was getting on and lots of tourist coaches were turning up and overwhelming the town with visitors returned to the car and continued our journey. This took us through a string of attractive villages all around the seashore and towards the eastern end of the Bay where the backdrop was a wall of limestone mountain soaring over a thousand metres high and squeezing the towns and villages in between the rockface and the sea.
My driving was continuing to irritate people and several times I was tooted and invited to pull over by motorists using hand signals that you won’t find in the Highway Code but I didn’t let this intimidate me and I continued sedately on, pulling over whenever I could to let agitated motorists pass me by.
Eventually we arrived in Kotor without incident and it was much bigger than I imagined it would be from the descriptions in the travel guides and there was a two thousand passenger cruise liner tied up at the dock which was so huge it dwarfed the town and looked sadly out of place. We needed a car park and found one around the side of the town where a grumpy attendant gave us a ticket and explained the tariff and then we set off into the old town to explore.