The 1.5 hour bus ride from Podgorica to Budva, Montenegro took us over some beautiful mountains and gave us an appreciation of how rugged this country is. After driving through the old capital of Cetinje and down the mountain road to Budva we checked into our hotel and then walked the short distance to the sea to get a lay of the land. Budva is one of those places that one either loves or hates. It is certainly the key town along the coast of Montenegro and primarily Russian investors have built huge high-class resort hotels and condos to rival Spain’s Costa del Sol. Some people will bemoan the loss of whatever quaintness the area had before development. But for us, we really enjoyed Budva. It reminded Tanya of what a beach town should look like, full of beach umbrellas and families out enjoying their weekend.
Budva’s old town is a kind of miniature Dubrovnik and is a short walk from the main beach area. Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets, lined with weekend tourists, pizza places and souvenir shops, we were glad that we had decided to stay at a small hotel outside the old walls. Besides being a bit claustrophobic and hot, the charm that would be more evident at other times of the year, when visitors are scarce, was diminished.
This is the very beginning of the season in Budva, with most of the seaside restaurants having just opened June 1. They go full tilt until the end of September/October and then shut down over the winter. The same goes with hotels. Our small hotel, Hotel Oliva, just re-opened May 1 and will close at the end of October when the owner goes back to Switzerland for six months to tend to his Zurich restaurant operated by his wife during the summer. He told us his name is “Branko”, not Franco” and he’s a friendly hands-on operator who is always available and loves to interact with his guests. The setting for the hotel is very nice with a backyard of olive trees and a bubbling fountain.
At breakfast, Branco asked Jay how he liked his coffee. “Black”, Jay responded. “Ah, just like the American cowboys. They only drink their coffee black. I know because when I was a boy I read the Karl May books, with the cowboy, Old Shatterhand, and his Indian companion Winnetou. I cried when Winnetou died.”
Fortunately, we’ve read some of May’s books and have even visited a museum in Germany dedicated to his memory. If you’ve never heard of him, here’s a Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_May