My zigzagging journey through the Balkans brought me to Montenegro following Kosovo. My time in Montenegro was necessarily brief because I have to be in Slovenia by August 15. Having endured the region’s heat for the previous weeks, I settled on going to coastal Montenegro. I stayed for three days in Tivat before going onward to Bosnia.
It seems appropriate that I would visit Montenegro after Kosovo. You may remember the times when there was one country called Serbia and Montenegro. Montenegro was part of Yugoslavia from its earliest iteration following World War I until its disintegration. It remained in union with Serbia until 2006. This divorce followed a national referendum in which the pro-independence vote narrowly met its necessary threshold. Unlike the situation with neighboring Kosovo, Serbia accepted the referendum results and quickly recognized its new neighbor.
Casino Royale is certainly one of the best films in the James Bond franchise. The series reboot set a new tone and Daniel Craig’s performance makes you quickly forget that there was ever any controversy about him playing Bond. The film’s eponymous Casino Royale is in Montenegro. Some of the tensest scenes come during a card game at the casino and the subsequent car chase. The scenery is beautiful, regal, and appropriate for the action. However, there is a kicker. None of these scenes were shot in Montenegro and there is no Casino Royale in Montenegro. The filming actually took place in the Czech Republic.
The town of Tivat is where I actually laid my head at night. Tivat is the type of place I might spend a week if I was 38 year old banker from Milan named Benito looking for nice place to take my yacht for a getaway with my Slovakian model girlfriend. That said, I am not quite in that situation, though the occasional model might right swipe me on Tinder. Tivat has a few beaches and an old Yugoslavian submarine and not whole lot else for a traveler like me. It is a pleasant place to spend a couple of days, but other nearby cities may be better options for travelers looking for actual activities.
In the military I had a few opportunities to spend time at sea on naval vessels. My feelings about those experiences are decidedly mixed. Being on the ocean is alright for a short time, but months at a time with no land and no alcohol are hardly the life of Riley. With that in mind, I made time to visit Tivat’s sole attraction, the Naval Heritage Collection. Since the 19th century, Tivat served as a significant naval base. As Montenegro entered its independent era a new plan for Tivat was envisioned. Replacing the military arsenal is now a top tier port servicing luxury yachts and other civilian customers. The Naval Heritage Collection exists as a reminder of Tivat’s past. Inside the small museum building are pieces of naval equipment, weapons, and even a two man submarine. There is also a rotating exhibit. When I visited it was a photography collection with no tangible connection to the sea. Outside the museum building are two unmissable submarines. A guided tour of the larger one is included with the museum ticket price (€5). This is a good experience as the guide served as a submariner himself and is very knowledgeable on submarines.
Among the more interesting towns near Tivat is Kotor. Surrounded by mountains and sitting at the edge of the Bay of Kotor, Kotor is in a bona fide picturesque location. The town’s real draw is its walled in Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though settlements in the area have existed since Roman times, the Old Town as it exists today was mostly constructed during a period of Venetian rule between 1420 and 1797.
The best activity is a walk up the city walls. Though exhausting, the walk is worth it for the views of the town and bay from the ruined castle at the top of the mountain of St. John.
I don’t like cats. It is clear that dogs are superior companions and being allergic to felines also doesn’t serve to boost my opinion of the creatures. However, I like strange museums and while exploring Kotor I stumbled across the Cats Museum and knew I had to go in. This tiny two room museum holds mostly postcards and other prints designed for strange cat people from across the last two centuries. The most interesting of which may be the collection of World War I-era cards featuring French prostitutes and their feline pals.