We took advantage of an extended holiday weekend and combined it with some vacation time to take a week trip to Dubrovnik. Since it is a long drive there, we decided to take it slowly and make a giant circle, starting by going via Bosnia to Croatia and then going south to Montenegro to return to Serbia.
I was amazed by the amount of reconstruction that has occurred in this city since the near complete destruction in the 1990s. The gentleman where we rented an apartment gave us some insight of how scary it was for him as a teen to grow up in the middle of a siege and war. Sarajevo downtown is very walkable and has several interesting places to visit. It is not a large city and the old part of the city has some shopping and several mosques.
We drove then west to Mostar, which is famous for its beautiful Ottoman bridge. This bridge was almost completely destroyed as well during the 1990s war, but has now been fully reconstructed. The waters of the river below it are beautiful, with a turquoise color that we noticed to be common as well in the Adriatic sea. Mostar had plenty of souvenir shopping, but otherwise was easily done in one half day.
This was the main destination for this trip and indeed was the highlight of our vacation. What a wonderful place! The town of Dubrovnik has an old town section that has a surrounding protecting wall. This seems to be a common theme among many old cities in this region and we saw it again in Kotor and Budva later in the trip.
Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage destination for a good reason. When Dubrovnik was a city-state, the old town was the center of action. It is possible to walk on the protection wall around the city, with a birds-eye view of the old town. Once finished with walking on top of the walls, we went into the old town to see some of the churches and have a great lunch at a local restaurant.
We also took a day trip in a bout tour to the Elaphites Islands. There are various tour companies with which you can purchase a day trip to three nearby islands. They cook a delicious fish lunch on board and the day is very relaxing. The islands don’t have much to actually see, but they were fun to just lay on the beach and relax while they kids attempted getting in the cold water.
Kotor and Budva
After a few nights in Dubrovnik, we drove south into Montenegro to see Kotor and Budva. Each place had its own character and had beautiful places to visit. They also had an old town with a fortified wall around them, although smaller than Dubrovniks.
Last, but not least, we started our drive back to Serbia. We stopped at the Durmitor National Forest still in the Montenegro side, high up in the mountains. This is a ski resort during the winter, but despite being mid Spring it still had a thick later of snow in shaded areas. The weather was perfect, and it was warm enough to wear shorts despite being able to walk on the snow.
The Polar Star Hotel in Zabljak was great and I highly recommend it. We took long walks near Crno Jezero (black lake) and the mountains were beautiful.