Sometimes, you need to be a part of something to reaffirm all of your beliefs.
When we mentioned Montenegro to our host in Belgrade, he had one word for us: Budva. Beach paradise, perfectly located on our route. “You need to go to Budva.” And so we went.
Unfortunately, we had not read the dire warning on Wikitravel:
Some tourists may find Budva disappointing and cheesy because of the over-crowded beaches filled with chairs, umbrellas and constantly thumping house music, the carnival atmosphere, the litter on the streets, beaches and inside of old town, and the excessively high prices in relation to quality for accommodation, drinks, food and taxi service.
Budva turned out to be all of those things. A place so geared towards tourism that it left nothing up to chance: There was bungee jumping. There was house music pumping from the speakers of all places close to the sea. Fast food restaurants on the shore. Grilled sausage with that techno music on the beach? You got it. Public spaces? No sir.
Of course, and this is the worst part, we were very much a part of the problem. Every soul traveling to Budva adds yet another towel to the overcrowded beach. And though we stayed away from the beach bars and even walked as far away as we could in the heat, there was no escaping from masses. This place was the exact opposite of what we wanted in a vacation – and just by being there, by taking part, we felt like we were supporting this vision of what a vacation can be: Tanning yourself to oblivion without ever seeing anything but the beach.
Optimistically, we had booked two nights at the hostel. Luckily, the crowd felt somewhat similar to how we did. Nevertheless, when our stay was over, we took our bags and ran for the door, caught he next bus out of the city and randomly ending up in a tiny town called Tivat. As it turned out, Tivat was the antidote to all we had seen before.
This place is deserted. You can hear the chickens from our hostel. And in comparison to Budva, the place we are staying at – Hostel Anton – hardly seems real: Apparently run by hippies it is the most easygoing place I have seen in the region. I am typing this in a roof terrace overlooking a beautiful bay, which is known as “Montenegro’s fjord”. There is good music. Nice people. And the dog is referred to as a “family member”. With the view, it feels like we are suddenly in Norway. In a really warm, cheap Norway where the hostel owners make three-course dinner for 5€.
The best part is that we can remain somewhat undercover, enjoy the scenery without ruining it all by our mere presence. I’ll take that over Montenegro’s beach paradise any day.