Van Life: 10 Days in Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina
After our glorious week in Albania, we got back in the van ready to travel to Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. We drove to the Montenegrin border, where we waited, and sweated for over an hour in the stifling heat waiting to cross over. Once we were finally into Montenegro, we were relieved to start driving and get some air flow into the car. After 500 metres we got pulled over by a police officer, who spoke no English. Finally we figured out that he was asking us for our green card for Montenegro, which we didn’t buy as border control told us we didn’t need one! We had to drive back to the border crossing to buy our €15 green card, then we were back on the road.
We cruised along the beautiful coast line, weaving between mountains and the ocean. After 4.5 hours we arrived in Budva. We used our park4night app to find parking in the city centre, right next to the old town – a must see whilst visiting Budva. Later, we romantically walked along the beach then watched the sunset sinking beers at Perla Bar, one of the more classy, modern establishments in town. The beers here cost us €2.50 for a half pint, so a little more expensive compared to the rest of the places in town.
The nightlife in Budva is some sort of weird mix between Ibiza and Thailand. The esplanade is scattered with door to door outdoor clubs, all competing for your money with door girls pulling you in all different directions and DJs pumping their music as loud as their speakers would allow. We walked along the strip but for most of our time we were making the most of €2.50 cocktails at the club, Paris, the name is fitting as it’s even complete with its own mini Eiffel Tower. Once we were done partying, we stumbled back to the van and spent a very noisy night at the end of the strip in a car park for €10.
The next day, we were up early so we could get a free parking spot near the most photogenic part of Montenegro, Sveti Stefan. Sveti Stefan is a part of the classier area of Budva, with luxury restaurants overlooking the beach. Beach beds cost an extravagant €120 per day. Tom and I certainly stood out here brushing our teeth on the side of the road in our dinged up old camper!Sveti Stefan is also home to The Milocer Hotel, one of my favourite buildings in Europe. With its green vines leaves wrapping around the hotel and the backdrop of the rocky cliffs, it makes for something out of a fairytale. Click To Tweet
This luxurious part of town is also home to The Milocer Hotel, one of my favourite buildings in Europe. With its green vines leaves wrapping around the hotel and the backdrop of the rocky cliffs, it makes for something out of a fairytale… and to be able to afford it, you must be living some form of fairytale lifestyle. A basic room will set you back a minimum €1500 per night in low season!!
Sunkissed and relaxed, we were back on the road. We stopped at the very fancy Morten fish shop for a kilo of prawns and spent the next two days chilling on the beach, just outside Kotor at Leprtani. This was one of my favourite spots, waking up with the best views overlooking Kotor Bay. We spent our mornings making breakfast and watching many multi-million euro boats cruising through the bay.
The next day, we wandered through the old town of Kotor, which is famous for their love of cats. Tom, who is absolutely petrified of cats, was on edge the whole bloody day. This made for a very entertaining lunch for me and everyone around us, watching him jump up and down from his seat in the restaurant every moment one wandered within 5 metres of him. We ate at Cesare Old Town restaurant and the food was very average. I wouldn’t recommend eating there!
Durmitor National Park – the Black Lake
After lunch, we headed 4 hours to Durmitor National Park in the lush mountains of Montenegro. We had two much cooler nights on an old abandoned camp ground, hiking and exploring the stunning Black Lake. The ranger came around early on the second morning and we had to pay to camp, as well as entry to the park which cost €15 total. If you want to avoid paying, arriving late and leaving early is key. We were too lazy that morning so we had to pay to stay.
The next day, we were feeling pretty over van life. Our towels, bed sheets, Tom’s armpits and my hair all desperately needed washing, so we decided to stay at a hotel for the night. We ended up at Apartment Kostuta. It was literally in the middle of fucking nowhere but an absolute ripper of a bargain – €20 per night. It was actually a really nice, clean, whole apartment. We both had the longest showers ever, did all our washing and, sitting on the lounge in our underwear, spent the night glued to the TV. We then slept comfortably in a real bed!
Van Life: Bosnia & Herzegovina
Crossing the Border
Feeling fresh and armed with crispy clean bed sheets we were ready to join our girl Betty again. It was time for another border crossing, something we’ve started to dread but it’s got to be done. It became clear that our dread was warranted because at the, Bosnian border, the border police told us we had to purchase a green card, as again our UK insurance doesn’t cover Bosnia & Herzegovina. We expected this and we were ok with it. However, at this small border they conveniently didn’t have any green cards to give us but they would let us through if we gave them the €20 anyway.
So, after being instructed to put the cash in our passports with the van paperwork then leave it on the desk, we were allowed in. So, we’re now in Bosnia & Herzegovina… Great… But without a green card to show any other police if we get pulled over. Fingers crossed we don’t come across any more scamming police officers.
We drove 3 hours to Mostar and there were cops everywhere along the road. Somehow we were lucky enough every time to avoid being pulled over. We spent the afternoon exploring the historical old town of Mostar, watching the locals jump from the old bridge, visited the Genocide Museum (€5 pp) and enjoyed some ice cold beers for €2 each. We ended the night with most delicious, filling dinner at Tima-Irma. A GIANT meat platter was €18 (including beers) with every meat you could think of. It was delicious, the best meal we’ve had in a while. I couldn’t recommend this restaurant more if visiting Mostar.
That night, we didn’t want to stay in town because it was stifling hot. Sleeping with the van door closed would have boiled us to death, literally. We crawled up into the hills and out of town where we found a place to sleep overlooking the whole of Mostar. This was one of the points that was used to bomb the town in the war. In the morning, we sat drinking our coffees, just us, some cows and an absolutely breathtaking view.
Kravice Waterfalls, Ljubuski
We drove back through town and 4.5 hours later arrived at the most beautiful free camp spot, right on the river which runs from Kravice waterfalls in Ljubuski. We free camped here for two nights, with no reception, a refreshing river to swim in and €1.30 beers we had everything we needed there. After two nights, we got up early to be at the Kravice waterfalls at 8am. Thankfully we beat the crowds and we were the only ones swimming for over an hour. Entry into the waterfalls is €5 per person and again if you arrive early, before 7am, you would be able to enter without paying. We spent the day swimming in the icy water then jumped into Betty, ready to tick off her 10th country… Heading for the Croatian boarder.
We had 6 lush days in Montenegro and 4 relaxing days in Bosnia & Herzegovina. When we arrived it aligned with school holidays commencing and everywhere was absolute madness. The beaches were packed, traffic was nuts and parking was always hard to find. But even with all this, it was still incredible. Besides, driving anywhere on the coast in European summer is bound to be busy and slightly stressful. We learnt that it’s important to take a break from van livin’, check into a hotel, and restart over again. We’re only human. Even though we’re doing one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done, it’s still normal to feel a bit “over it” sometimes.
Until the next adventure…
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