RV Roadtrip – The Coast of Montenegro
Leaving Kotor seemed pretty straight forward, so much so that we didn’t bother with setting a destination in Gabby (Our British accented GPS personality) nor did we get Google Maps fired up on the phone. We’ve found that having them both mapping us in tandem is our best option as we bumble along, though there is great consternation when they disagree! I always want to trust Gabby because she knows what a fattie we are on these skinny roads. That, of course, sometimes takes us the long way round on truck routes rather than the more direct Google approach which Shani would prefer.
So we pulled the rig out of our parking lot and almost immediately took the wrong road out of a roundabout just as we were about out of town. It took a minute or two to realize our mistake as the road continued to narrow to slightly less than one car width in either direction. Getting turned around in the rig in these circumstances can be quite the challenge as there is no pull out and very few options. Eventually there was a side street we could pull into and Shani jumped out to stop traffic and direct the reversing (amongst a little bit of honking). Our course righted we took the correct exit on the roundabout this time and headed south toward Petrovac and Camping Maslina.
It had rained on us in Kotor and the rain continued as we moved further down the coast. We did get a break in the weather as we passed by the very exclusive Aman Sveti Stefan island resort. According to their website “A fortified village dating back to the 15th century, the island of Sveti Stefan is a uniquely atmospheric setting of cobbled lanes, handsome courtyards and serene sea views. Hand-restored stone buildings house the 50 Rooms, Cottages and Suites on the island, each one individually styled to showcase original details and to harmonise with the centuries of history that give the isle its inimitable charm.” A room will set you back at least €900 a night and the Sveti Stefan suite goes for €4,000 a night. We didn’t check for availability and moved on to the more modestly priced camping.
We arrived at Camping Maslina in the rain and, unfortunately, there was no one at reception to let us in. It turned out that there was a German couple that lived there semi-permanently and they let us in and helped us search for the driest pitch on hard ground that we could find. We’ve been overly cautious since getting stuck that first night in Luxembourg, not anxious to relive that experience! In the shoulder/off season it’s not atypical for reception to keep limited hours or be completely M.I.A. and now we understand the drill…find a spot, set up camp and eventually someone will show up to take your money.
The camp hosts at Maslina are a very friendly multi-generational family that has been hosting campers for almost 50 years among the 300+ year old olive trees that give the site its name. The site is just 2 km from Petrovac and there is an easy trail to the resort village from the camping. There are also a few restaurants and a market all within easy walking distance.
Just a ways from the campsite is the beach and we were lucky to witness the ocean as glassy and calm as could be and also whipped into a frenzy with the wind and rain creating some spectacular waves pummeling the beach. What a difference a day makes!
Up hill from the camping is a small nunnery, still active, that makes for a pleasant afternoon adventure. We didn’t see any of the sisters but could see some evidence of their residency.
We had a good look around, took some pictures and tried to stay as quiet and respectful as possible. If memory serves, I got a very stern look of reproach from Shani when I uttered a foul word after stubbing my toe on one of the stepping stones defining the path around the church.For us the real gem on this section of Montenegrian coast is Petrovac, a lovely resort town known for its long beach (600 meters) and famous as a popular destination for wealthy tourists from (the former) Yugoslavia. The town seems to be in a growth state as we saw several high rise apartment buildings under construction. Presumably these will be vacation homes/rentals.
As it was low season quite a few of the ocean side restaurants and bars were closed. We did find a good spot, though the service was a bit brusk, we ended up with a meat and cheese platter and a million dollar view.All said we were happy to camp at Meslina for nearly a week but Greece was calling and we were ready to move on. One of the major challenges in the low season is finding campsites that are open year round. With that limiting us, we set our sites on Safari Beach, a campground right on the water. We planned to bunk down there for a few more days before a big driving day going into Albania and potentially some really rough roads.
Safari Beach was a very interesting situation. As we followed Gabby’s instructions, Shani and I shared more than one sideways glance. Eventually we came to the entrance of the property, but even then I was still a bit dubious!
Rain had really soaked the place and we were the only camping car there. We pulled up as far as possible on the tarmac and set the emergency brake. There was no way we were pulling into the water soaked pitches! Adjacent to our parking spot was a newly built and not quite finished bathroom block and a couple hundred meters up the beach was the Safari Beach Restaurant.
There were signs of life in the restaurant and we eventually got things sorted with the owner/manager. Since the bathroom block wasn’t finished they unlocked one of the cabanas for us to shower in. This was a bit awkward as it seemed someone lived there part time, complete with a fully stocked bathroom of toiletries, half made bed and naked portrait of a woman above said bed. It was odd.
Even more odd was the restaurant. We tried to go have drinks several times and even though the lights were on no one was home. Odder still, when we tried to pay after our stay there was no one around despite lights being on and vehicles parked out back. So what’s an honest camper to do? We did what any reasonable person would do, we put the cash in an envelope and slid that under a planter on the porch of the restaurant. We took some photos as evidence and texted the owner/manager. We hope he found his money!
And that was our brief and rainy visit to Montenegro. Stay tuned as we race through Albania and finally land in Greece.