Living in Montenegro: How is it arriving for the first time?

Recently I was asked to write a short piece on Montenegro for a New York based lifestyle website called “fashion + class & jet lag“. In case you did not catch it, here is the short story I wrote for them:

Arriving in Montenegro for the first time is like entering one of those secret walled gardens. You feel a real sense of adventure as your adrenaline perks up. The land feels like it has not quite yet been discovered; there are no eight lane highways like the French Riviera or bullet trains which the movie Casino Royale placed in its Montenegrin set. There is a simple two lane road called the Adriatic Highway which stretches along the coast connecting this storied place to Croatia in the North and Albania to the South.

Driving in to the Bay of Kotor from Dubrovnik or coming down the mountains to the coast from the capital city Podgorica, you cannot help but be in awe of the stunning backdrop of ocean and mountains. Centuries of history add even more gorgeous ingredients to the mix. Evidence of ancient Venetian and Ottoman rulers intersects with the more modern Socialist Yugoslavia era utilitarian architecture.

As you settle in you quickly discover that the scenery changes throughout each day. You do not have to wait for the seasons to change to feel like you have discovered a new place. As the sun comes up in the summer, the light is crisp and clean. By the mid afternoon, things look like a bleached-out Instagram snapshot. The evening sunsets are a lingering kaleidoscope of colour. The beauty is truly indescribable whether you find yourself on the rocky coastline or in the mountains exploring the second largest canyon in the world. Some of the scenery inland looks like it came from the set of The Hobbit.

Budva to Podgorica Highway

This tiny newly independent nation is a fascinating place to explore. There are no fast food restaurants, drive throughs or express check outs. It is the perfect venue to practice the teachings in Carl Honore’s book “In Praise of Slow” or dive in to the ideas of the Slow Food movement.

One of the most refreshing aspects of Montenegro is that the country has hardly been discovered by international brands. Organic, local, family retailers and national chains are more prevalent. Finding things you need often becomes a bit of a hunt, but that can be half the fun.

This is a land of amazing contrasts and transformation. You can wander along the jetties of Porto Montenegro past some of the largest super yachts on earth. Turn a corner, though, and you find yourself in the little town of Tivat where one of the best-loved modes of transport continues to be the Communist-era Yugo, even though production ended a couple decades ago. Super yachts and Yugos; old and new; fast and slow; it’s all in the mix in this land of “Wild Beauty”. Add to this backdrop, a population of warm and generous people, and you cannot help but be spellbound by the place, as I was when I landed here in the summer of 2009.

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