While on the plane returning from Spain & Portugal this summer, I was already contemplating where we would spend our month in 2008.
At the time, I was leaning toward Scotland and Wales. Or maybe Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
But then I started really feeling the tug to get back to Puglia. I was there two years ago, but Dan has never been further south than Rome.
We both love to include some time communing with nature in our trips. We love mild hiking. And, we like to go places where the tourist traffic still hasn't made too much of an impact.
So, as I began to try to resolve Italy with those other goals. I cast my eye across the Adriatic to Croatia. Yes I know, Croatia has been headed full-steam toward the tourist industry for several years. It is preped and packaged for sale to the highest Euro/Pound/Dollar. But, what else is close enough to combine with Italy for a single trip? MONTENEGRO!
Montenegro is working hard to turn its coastline into the next Croatia. The Disneyesque vacation island of Sveli Stefan is a prime example.
But, the breathtaking interior mountains and canyons are still discovered by only a few. Most of them German adventurers, so I'm told.
With the exception of Kotor, a Unesco city, the populated cities of Montenegro still display a preponderence of grey, post communist era decrepitude. The country's man made national treasures (those that survived communism) are few and far between.If you never venture further north than Podgorica, you will probably just consider Montenegro the 'poor cousin' to Croatia.
Montenegro's real treasure is the natural beauty of its interior region. Something you have to put a little effort into finding.
Now that I've got you interested, go look at the photos that got ME interested.
So, now I have general dates (Mid-June to Mid-July). I have a general idea. And, I have the beginning of a plan...
*Fly from St. Louis, through God knows where to get to Belgrade.
*Spend a couple of days in Belgrade.
*Hop on the train that goes from Belgrade to Bar, Montenegro.
*Experience the beautiful ride through the mountains and get off the train at either Zabijak, Mojkovac or Kolesin (depending on where we can get a rental car).
*Spend a couple of nights in Zabijak, Mojkovac, or Kolesin (depending on where we can find lodging) so that we can hike Durmitor and raft the Tara.
*Drive To Cetinje-Kotor area to do some sight seeing for a day or two.
*Then to Dubrovnik in Croatia to catch a small ship (12 - 18 passenger) so we can Croatian island hop for a week)
*From there a ferry to Bari. Pick us a rental car in Bari for a week in southern Puglia (somewhere south of the S-7)
*Our final week somewhere along the Tirreno coast bewteen Nettuno and Gaeta.
*Flying out of either Rome or Naples.
That's the beginning point for our planning. The ending point will probably be very different.
Planning is such great fun!