Tuesday 17th June 2014
Today I jump on an “11am” bus to Kotor that arrives at 11.30am (it’s the relaxed Mediterranean way apparently, to be late all the time). The first chunk of the two-three hour drive is gorgeous as we hug the coast line heading south (see above). I sleep for the remainder and only just awake as we are pulling into Kotor. It doesn’t make too much of an impression on me but that’s mostly because I am extremely drousy. My second bus to Tivat is a little different from my first. One similarity though (which is different to buses back home) is that I do have to pay an additional fee to store my pack, it’s usually one or two of whatever currency you’re using. So these local buses have no air con which creates a very ‘authentic’ aroma, the gear stick is jutting out of the floor like an old tomb stone and there’s no opening my window. I’m grateful that it’s not boiling and the bus isn’t full. I get off the bus after about 10 minutes when TIVAT is shouted. I grab a cab to my hostel, because I know Tivat is tiny and too remote even for Google Maps so I couldn’t access a decent map before my arrival, albeit I didn’t try too hard either.
Tivat, Kotor and smaller surrounding towns are dotted on the shores of a very squiggly inlet. So squiggly in fact that you can’t often see the vast expanse of the ocean, making it feel a lot more like you’re looking at a lake instead of the sea. These towns are nestled in between the foreshore and the iconic rocky cliffs. Hostel Anton is one of the last houses before the village succumbs to the mountain gradient.
It is for sure my favourite hostel so far, for interesting reasons. I walk up the steps to the common area which serves as reception, bar, living and dining room to Anton’s family. The space is amazing; somewhat of a cross between a tree hut and a yoga retreat. It’s casually slat board benches, wobbly tables, worn cushions and abundance of clutter are the real deal. In one corner of the room stands a drum kit, electric piano and a few broken guitars. Definitely getting amongst that later. This is what I LOVE about this style of travelling. Staying in these tiny hostels that are essentially an extension of someone’s home means that authenticity isn’t something to strive for, it’s not a standard to be achieved or a look to be perfected, it simply … is.
A guy in his 20s and bare feet greets me with “hi, you want a room?” He looks rather surprised when I tell him I actually have booked. The house has three levels, I am shown to a dorm on the middle one that has three sets of bunks and no occupants. Awesome. Is anyone else even staying here? I soon discover that I am sharing the floor, including a bathroom, with Mum, Dad and the kids. But it makes me feel like I’m part of the family and being woken up my a crying toddler doesn’t bother me at all.
Tonight I walk down to Porto Montenegro, the superyacht marina, to meet Soph at the club house for some drinks. Setting out, I admire the neighbourhood, shrouded, it seems in foreign leafy greens.
Going into the village, the cracked buildings are the blues, pinks and yellows of an old chalk box, beautiful to me in their character and unfamiliarity. My vicinity changes with the turn of a corner. Everything portside seems eerily perfect. There’s no one around; no hustle and bustle. Immaculate gridded streets boast brand new shops with expensive labels. If it wasn’t for the gentle bobbing of 300 or so super yachts in the harbour I might be able to kid myself that I had actually stumbled across a giant Lego town. I am instantly conscious of my tourist garb that seemed so totally fine about 200 metres ago.
I meet Soph for a few drinks and she explains that this area is all new – designed with the yachties in mind as Porto Montenegro is the “leading luxury yacht homeport and marina village” in the Mediterranean, according to their website. To me it is extremely artificial, in-authentic and I am quite disgusted at the obvious disparity between Porto Montenegro and where I am staying. It is abundantly clear that minimal funds generated here are being pumped back into the local economy. Rant over. Soph makes my night and decides to come and stay with me at the hostel. We grab a pizza (each, obviously) on the local side of town, a bottle of red and head back to the zen den. Our smacktalk and terrible game of darts is set against a backdrop of foreign chat and soulful cover music.
We are in the the middle of our bottle of wine and game of cards and I am so engrossed (anyone that knows me knows not much can interrupt me if I’m playing cards) that I don’t pay attention to individual comings and goings. Soph glances up at the bar, looks back and says, “You know that guy you were telling me about? The guy that you showed me from the plane?” “Mmm” I say, not looking up. “It’s your turn”. “Well… I think he’s at the bar” I follow her wide eyes and playful smile to the bar and dam nearly spit my glass of wine across the table. Recovering “coolly” I shoot him a quizzical glance when he turns around like “should I know you from somewhere?” before carrying on with the card game like I couldn’t have given less of a care. Soph and I lol about this for the rest of the night, long after we head back to our empty dorm and pull off two single mattresses onto the floor in what’s to be our last night in each other’s company in who knows how long.