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  • jimfritsche204


Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Before traveling to Croatia, I read that Montenegro was a beautiful country for retirement and an expat could live there very comfortably. During one of my volunteer events in Palm Springs, I met a woman who was from Montenegro, who said it was magical and a lovely place to live. My curiosity grew as I was planning my three month vacation in Croatia. I knew somehow I had to visit there. When Jamie and I booked our five day stay in Dubrovnik we had the opportunity to book a day trip excursion to Montenegro. We booked our tour with "Select Dubrovnik" tourist agency using the "Get Your Guide" website. Our bus picked us up at 7:30 in the morning, {yes, I actually was up and ready}, and set out for the forty five minute drive to the Montenegro border. We were warned we could be at the border for hours, it all depended on the traffic. We lucked out since there was only one bus ahead of us. Our tour guide, Ivana, was wonderful and explained some of Montenegro's complex history. Montenegro claimed it's independence from Serbia in 2006 so it is a relatively young country with an ancient past. It's been ruled and taken over by many countries over hundreds of years. Montenegro has applied for EU membership but the process can take many years. Interestingly, their national currency is the Euro even though they are not yet an official member of the Eurozone. Luckily, I had some Euros from a previous trip to Portugal which Jamie proceeded to spend on a single cup of coffee. The small cafe she ordered from had no change so the coffee ended up costing 20 Euros!

From the border we drove another 45 minutes along the gorgeous coastline to the charming village of Perast.

Here, we boarded a small boat to see the man- made Island of "Our Lady of the Rocks," which is a beautiful church in the middle of the Bay of Kotor. The legend of the church and the island is really interesting. The story is that in the 14th century, two sailors were returning from a dangerous sea voyage, one with an injured leg. Upon reaching the bay they hit a rock and found an icon of the Virgin Mary with child. They took the icon home and the next day, the injured sailor was cured of his injury, but the icon was missing. They returned to the rock and the icon was there once again. Believing it was a miracle, they began to fill the sea with old ships and rocks which eventually created an island rising from the sea.

The small church is home to over 65 paintings from various famous Croatian artists.

The alter is filled with old wedding bouquets, left by couples who marry at the church believing their marriage is truly blessed.

Every July there is a celebration where the local people, circle the island in their boats throwing a rock into the sea to honor the Blessed Madonna and child.

This was such a beautiful setting with the mountains in the background and such a unique monument to visit.

Our boat trip to Kotor took us through the stunning Bay Of Kotor-considered the southernmost fjord in Europe. Of course "map girl " had to get all the specifics of where we were going!

Kotor is set against the dark mountains in an impressive landscape with the San Giovanni Fortress in it's center. The fortress was built by the Venetians and it's walls extend high into the mountains surrounding the Old Town. Kotor seemed a mix of old and new with the beautiful Adriatic Sea as it's backdrop.

It was a long day packed with history and stunning scenery and I would love to spend more time in this beautiful country.

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