Friday, June 09, 2017

Montenegro and NATO. A vote Yes. Why does it matter?

We have so little history in the US. The governing group is a newcomer -- largely white European groups only reach back to the 17th Century or so.  This starting point excludes the earlier came-and-went earlier venturers like Brendan, Viking landings, and the indigenous (and later conquered) sustainers of old sustainable ways. Enter the exploitation era:  For many, that is all we know.

So, too, with Montenegro. A crossroads for trade and invasion, cultural exchange, violence, shifting power structures.  Exploiters came and went, but at least in Montenegro an identity survived that predated the invaders, I think, and drives for independence. Our own striving for independence was short, and against the immediate colonizer, Britain.  Theirs has endured for centuries.  More apt as a parallel to Montenegro is the striving for independence of our minority groups, long exploited and ongoing.

Montenegro, mountains, cliff roads.

So: We support NATO and Montenegro independence, but is it 'felt.'  Doubtful.  Foreign policy here has become fungible juggling.  See  We insult them. See

Montenegro.  Pending independence, then NATO.  Visit this crossroads through the mountains, with the sea immediately below, and experience a different mindset. We began at the coast, then drove inland and up to Cetinje, the old capital in days of intrigue and powers with their embassies now shabby, but the town full of students, long-established families, and all so proud of their "beautiful city." With its heavy Russian hand.

1. I stayed at the old Russian hotel in Cetinje with my son at the time of Montenegro's vote to separate from Serbia.  Tensions were high. Clusters of men at the hotel, heads turned; more clusters as we looked in the nearly empty dining room, looks our way, and finally a set of nods and we were shown to a room.  We ate at what we thought was a student restaurant.

2.  What's up? Can you tell us what the people think around here about the decision pending, for
independence?  No. Waiters slowly shook heads and tilted toward more groups of men.  Not comfortable.  And we were watched.

3.  Back at the hotel, I was tempted to look behind the big potted plants in the Russian hotel, and the clanking radiator in the room -- and did.  But why bother. It's only us.  Still, there was an atmosphere of fear, no freedom to discuss.  The current trigger for this recollection is

4.  Why the disregard.  No, Mr. Trump, no nation is too small to be considered fungible, not worth every effort we can extend to nurture autonomy.

The work toward incorporation has been ongoing, see  The Senate has advanced the idea, see

Keep it going over the finish line.  And go there. Beautiful, excellent food, friendly people, when there are not the clusters of suits.
So, as a tourist with no family or other stake in this lovely country, I hope it will stay toward NATO and that the US will come to its senses in fostering freedom anywhere.  Thanks.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Kotor - Battlements Going up the Mountain. Occupation History; credit cards

Walled City of Kotor - Montenegro
Curtain Walls
Kotor, Montenegro, curtain walls


Curtain walls;  These extend as a total barrier, often in a broad perimeter around a castle, here going up the mountain as an escape for an entire town, there, in the back.

Why need such extensive wall structures apart from the main walled town.  The separate curtain wall is a familiar sight in the Balkans, going up the mountains.  The curtain wall was needed because of the location of the town, at roadways and ports invaders used through the years. Occupation after occupation. With mountains as a backdrop, the city could be better defended, but. Kotor still has been in many hands - warfare upon warfare.

Occupation history:
  • Illyrian 300 BC or so (Old Greek),
  • Roman 168 BC,
  • Byzantine then until the 1100's,
  • Serbian to the 1300's,
  • then Hungary in the 1300's,
  • then Bosnian at the end of the 1300's,
  • Venetian in the 1400's as a voluntary transfer of protection against the Turks, and to 1797,
  • then Austrian to 1805,
  • Russian to 1807,
  • French to 1813, temporary fight for independence, lost, and
  • back to Austria to 1918,
  • liberation after WWI,
  • then the Germans,
  • and liberation from Germany 1944.
  • part of Yugoslavia,
  • then part of Serbia after the breakup of Yugoslavia, and
  • in 2006, independence from Serbia
Add to that plagues and earthquakes.
The city is over 2000 years old. No peace. There used to be an upper town and a lower town. See ://

Kotor - look closely at the mountain to see the curtain walls going up the side, another defense.

At Kotor, as in places in Croatia (especially Ston, see Croatia Road Ways, Ston post), you can see curtain walls going most all the way up a mountainside, with a large fortress at the top. These serve as another line of defense, if the the city walls are breached the population flees up the mountain. There is refuge there, better than below.

Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See; and

There are also palm trees, just as there are in the warm parts of Scotland even, and the old buildings. See the old town at Go further to these notations if that is helpful: php?akcija=rezpret&fKategorija=Kotor&fPodKategorija=Old+Town. Kotor was less damaged by invasions than many coastal towns, I understand. See

Getting around:

There are many ATM's, but you may find that only selected cards will work, and the money is not Euro. We ran into five currencies this trip - different in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. Some will accept Euro, but we preferred to use the country's cash and withdrew some for each day.

Credit cards.

Before you leave US: You should alert your credit card or debit card places that you will be in specific countries so they will not block your getting cash. We did that ahead of time, and still found that one card could not be used. Much fraud out there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Montenegro Lures the Marina Mega-Tourist Industry. History.

Montenegro is making, and has already largely made, its mark among the affluent global seafarers, and investors. A downside to reporting on the visual and other pleasures enjoyed by Montenegro's waterfront population, those with superyachts, is the impression that Montenegro is beyond the reach of the rest of us.  The Financial Times offers a review of properties and benefits on Perast with luxury in mind, see Fortunately, its inclusion of history amid the descriptions of exclusive developments -- Peter the Great used the area as a shipyard and naval academy -- retains the old lure that draws in the rest of us. 

1.  A history of Russia in Montenegro?  We found it in the hotel at Cetinje, and now ask whether Montenegro should be concerned about reabsorption, given the old shipbuilding-fleet connection.  Read of Matija Zmajevic, great shipbuilder to Peter I The Great.

2.  Montenegro's oldest noble families:  Is there a correlation between old pride in connections, and ability to maintain independence.  Or is Montenegro's topography, hard to invade, the key to its continuity. There is a time to explore an encyclopedia:  see It avoided the ethnic violence of surrounding countries in the Balkans largely because of its cultural homogeneity, and identification with Serbia. A start on understanding.

2.1  Social organization here in medieval times focused on casadas, "patrician clans", brotherhoods:   History buffs will enjoy the descriptions of  medieval social organization that included elections to the main council, at

2.2   In the early seventeenth century, other individuals emerged as leaders in the arts, politics, and -- as to the great fleet -- Matija Zmajevic included. Recommended:  short, focused articles on area points of interest at  Click back, and back. No easily navigable contents,  through the full 50 pages, but worth a leisurely, thoughtful look at each.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Culture. Roots of the old Yugoslavia. And the Pride of Montenegro

 Pride of Place: Montenegro
I.  Overview
Yugoslavia: The old union of republics in the Balkans. Brian Hall's book reflects on that union of Yugoslavia, The Impossible Country.  See 1994's notable presentation at;

Those old Yugoslav nations are now independent, with a great deal of bloodshed in the separations.

A.  What are those roots.  We noted a difference in the children and adults of Montenegro:  sensing a pride of place not seen elsewhere.  How reliable is our impression? We were only there a few days.

1.  Example, spontaneity of children:  "How do you like our beautiful city?" asked children playing soccer in a small park area in Cetinje, with buildings in need of vast repair, but the architecture glowing with past political, diplomatic and other glories. They had no question but that their city was indeed beautiful still, as it is in a fading way, as anywhere with insufficient funds for repair.

2.  Undercurrent of reticence in adults.  Was this an outgrowth of the looming independence from Serbia election:  In Cetinje, waiters held back, waving off questions with nods to other parts of the restaurant where serious diners sat, so we understood the service people did not feel free to discuss independence openly.  The staff was matter-of-fact, however, not appearing cowed.   We sensed wariness, but it was not fear.  Is that worth noting?

3.  Brian Hall's book calling a union of these disparate Yugoslav parts as impossible.  How to generalize.  Impossible, with no "scientific" samplings, data, controls. 

3.1  The nations involved did not share a history of independence.  Read an old article on Balkan history, from the New York Times from 1991, at,%201991&st=cse.  It notes that Montenegro and Serbia were the only old Yugoslav nations that were independent before WWI.  So, Montenegro, still under Ottoman rule, as was Bulgaria, was at a disadvantage in terms of experience.  See

3.2  Montenegro, however, as part of the Ottoman Empire, still presented a difficult --literally -- terrain for anyone asserting controls.  Geographically, the mountains would create pockets for different interests to foment undisturbed. A review of the area's history is difficult before the actual visit, however, because the groups are so many, and the cultures so varied.  We are not taught much about the Balkans in our schools. After returning, it is easier to seek out sources to get a grip on the conflicts, the groups.  Places and ideas are by then familiar.  Still, in Montenegro we sensed a pride, not an undercurrent of anger.

3.3  Serbia in particular exerts a forceful sense of territory.  Serbia had also been under Ottoman rule, but in 1814ff, some parts managed to establish autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, then becoming independent in about 1878, see  Do people that know they were indeed independent, and have the privilege of a known past without subjugation, pass that on so that the tradition itself supports ongoing independence.  Did that help doom Yugoslavia.  Here, we offer a review of that article with our own observations so far, to be augmented.

II.  Balkan History:  How to get a grip.  Rebecca West's 1931 Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (as reviewed in The Guardian) is unsurpassed as a resource, context-creator.

A.  The patchwork:  Islam in the south of the Balkan peninsula, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Orthodox Christianity in those areas as well, competing; and Roman Catholicism in the north, essentially.  Yugoslavia was the land of the south Slavs. It was comprised of six very different republics: Croatia, where we began, Bosnia - Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia (we only saw a corner because Sarajevo, where we wanted to go, was not included in our car insurance).

1. Resource.  Read old journalism piece, before the splittings apart of the last decade, at,%201991&st=cse.  Older articles often offer detail without having to reshape information to fit with current events.  Tere is an immediacy, when the stakes do not require making sense of something.

2.  Cultural background. Macedonia, that we did not see; and Slovenia.

3.  Narrowed timeline.  Before WWI, only Montenegro and Serbia were independent.

The others were part of either the Habsburg Empire, or the Ottoman.  Croatia 800 years earlier joined Hungary. The Slovenes were ruled by the Habsburgs since the 14th Century.  Croats and Slovenes enjoyed industrial development through the Habsburg connections.  Most Serbians and Macedonians remained barely subsisting as farmers.  Macedonia was Bulgarian and then Ottoman, and there were independent principalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the middle ages, but they fell under Turkish and later Habsburg control.  Find this history outlined at NYT Conflict in Yugoslavia cite above.

Although already having cast off the Ottoman Empire, Montenegro formally declared war upon it in 1912, see

3.  The idea of the one nation for south Slavs was the product of particular intellectual and religious leaders, including the 19th Century Bishop Josop Juraj Strosmajer, Croatian, spellings vary.  As Strossmayer, also see him commemorated in Prague, Czech Republic, see
  • 1918.  The first attempt at a Slavic nation was created in 1918, after WWI, when the Habsburg Empire of Austria and the Ottoman Empire of Turkey had collapsed. The new nation was called the Kingdom of Serbs Croats and Slovenes.  
  • 1929.  The Serbian King Alexander imposed a dictatorship and renamed the nation as Yugoslavia. He favored Serbian culture.
  • 1941.  The Axis armies overran Yugoslavia (it took 11 days), and civil war also began began - Serbian royalists against Croatians serving the Nazis. Then, enter the partisan guerrillas of the Communists, and the fight became a three-way disaster. 
  •  1944.  The Partisans prevailed.  Belgrade came under control of Soviet interests. 
  • 1946.  Yugoslavia continued as a communist republic under the Croat Josip Broz Tito, Prime Minister and later President. He had led the partisans successfully as a guerrilla group in WWII.  
  • WWII and following: 
5.  The mixmaster of those familiar with independence, and those still feeling their way.

5.1  Ethnicity. Ethnically, most of the population was Slav - say 83%, NYT July 6, 1991 article by David Binder, National Rivalries Cloud Dream of Yugoslav Unity. There were Slovaks, Bulgars, Ruthenians, Russians, Poles; as well as Albanians, Hungarians, Gypsies, Greeks, Vlachs, Jews, Tsintsars (who?) and Austrians.  Each wanted, or already had, a stake.  Serbs held most positions in the army, secret police, federal bureaucracy, thus Tito being a Croat was somewhat offset.  But the brutality modeled after Stalinism emerged. 

5.2.  Religion.  Longstanding rivalries between Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic Christians also erupted - see issues related to whether Cardinal Stepinac stepped aside as Orthodox were led to their deaths, content to try to convert them before they went; or were his hands tied, see Zagreb, Croatia, St. Stephen's Cathedral,

B.  Divisions persisted, the old Tito framework died with him.

1. How could such a patchwork of different interests possibly work together for long?  Each found some satisfaction in a new status, recognition of individuality, desire for nationhood, and these seemed to satisfy most groups.

Then emerged huge rifts among the Serbs, Slovenes and Croats - an inter-ethnic civil war. 

2. Tito died in 1980, and some powers passed to the republic-areas.  But in 1987, Serbian Communist Slobodan Milosevic rallied the Serbs for a nationalist agenda  and set out to subdue (which became genocide) the Albanian population in Kosovo.  Collision course. The Communist Party collapsed in 1990, and Croatia and Slovenia pursued separatist policies.

And so, to today. Ever updating.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Kotor Bay. Perast Islands - on way to Kotor

Kotor Bay
Perast Islands
Drive to Kotor, Montenegro, Around the Bay
From Dubrovnik, Croatia, it is an easy drive to Kotor. Leave late in the day from Dubrovnik, spend the night anywhere, such as old Cavtat, on the Croatia side; and leave in the morning to catch the views to Kotor.  Montenegro: see the cities and descriptions at
And, there are buses, of course, and rental cars from Cavtat for a day's junket.
For maps, see this site that covers all the old Yugoslavia countries, the Adriatic coast - at; however, this site as others may not be updated as to the independence of Montenegro from Serbia in 2006, so check this one: ://

Kotor Bay, Montenegro, Our Lady of the Rock, Perast Islands; Island of St. George

The island of St. George, as well as Kotor itself, has a long history, from 229 BC as an Illyrian city, see


Our Lady of the Rock, Perast Islands, Kotor Bay, Montenegro

On the left, and in the center right, is on Our Lady of the Rock Island, off Perast, on the way to Kotor.

 The road goes around the equivalent of a fjord. See close-ups at  Navigate from the home page, using the further address information only as needed . Our Lady of the Rock is man-made - an island created over 550 years of dropping rocks on an underwater ledge, and then sinking captured ships over the same spot. Ingenious.
The buildings on the right are an island, really a reef, called the Island of St. George. It houses a Benedictine monastery. See more on the islands off Perast at,_Our_Lady_of_Skrpjel,_Perast_Islands.
This would be an excellent geo-tourism site because of the geological sites and attractions. See book "Geotourism" by Ross Dowling at

Kotor area- on the Balkan equivalent of a fjord

Near Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Kotor Bay, fjord, Montenegro

Here the mountains go right into the water, with little towns clinging around, and fortresses for last resort, up the cliff-side, fully walled. There are palm trees below, and where it is flat, lovely walled areas and twisting streets. This is a World Heritage area: see

Here is a summary of the town's history, and a fine photo gallery for Kotor at Go to home page first at the dot com.

The Financial Times has an article including Budva, see issue April 26-27, 2008, at page 10 --A flawless pearl - for now, by James Owen.  He notes that Budva was flattened in 1979 by an earthquake.  The restorations are not evident - so well done that we thought they were original. This is different from Germany where the devastation from bombing was so extensive and covered so much, that the renovations and reconstructions look Botox.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cetinje. Is This Jovan Simonov Plamenac? Cetinje Memorial, Monastery area. WWI, WWII, Leader. Strove for Independence, Montenegro

The Firing Squad Memorial
Is This Jovan Plamenac
Jovan S. Plamenac

Behind the monastery at Cetinje is this memorial of a man tied and apparently killed by firing squad. We think we have found his identity, finally, through Wikipedia, at

See his biography at Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Princedom of Montenegro, Serb Land of Montenegro, History of Montenegro OnLine, at

Spellings from the Cyrillic alphabet and any foreign language into English produce many variations, so we will continue to look for his history.

This tentative identification has been years coming, and was found in front of our noses - Wikipedia. We were there in 2006.

Why the silence about him, an academic, a humanitarian? There is a splendid array of Cetinje photos in an online gallery at - see all the old embassy buildings - but even there no identification of the man at the stake here.
This does seem to be, from the background information given, Jovan Plamenac. Click on the photo caption and see the enlarged picture and read the caption in Cyrillic to check for us. Please.
Rough Biography of Jovan Plamenac, through WWI. We need to continue to WWII
1873-1944 - Information framework from Wikipedia, to be augmented as we learn more, here vastly condensed, giving gist only:
  • Montenegrin Serbian,
  • teacher,
  • Minister of Education,
  • Minister of the Interior, involved as such in the Balkan Wars,
  • berated King Nicholas for leaving the country WWI, 1916,
  • became Speaker of the Serbian National Assembly, Kingdom of Montenegro,
  • 1918 opposed unification of Serbia with Montenegro,
  • gathered armed forces to fight, Italian units repelled (here we get mixed with who were allies and who were axis in WWI in the Balkans, Italian as axis),
  • led the "Christmas Rebellion" at Cetinje against Italian forces, rallied peasants and others,
  • this time Allies including French defeated them,
  • guerrilla attacks went on for years,
  • Plamenac fled to Albania,
  • Nicholas in exile was critical of the insurgents, but appointed Plamenac to his government (alliances fluid during those times, apparently) in exile,
  • Plamenac continued to work for independence, against Serbian annexation,
  • League of Nations no help, none came,
  • blame for unrest fell on Italians and Plamenac,
  • Britain no help,
  • Plamenac wrote Woodrow Wilson,
  • and this goes on for more than we can learn now - have to go back to the WWII era
  • ultimately in WWII Plamenac apparently collaborated with the Nazis and was killed by firing squad, by the Allies
  • have to go back and read all that to see what happened. We are interested here: If the Allies were no help in Montenegrin independence from Serbia, and obtaining Montenegri independence were the life's work of a patriot, wouldn't a patriot go for help to the other side, regardless? Germans/Nazis were all over the Balkans - look at the Ustach government in neighboring Croatia. He was killed for collaborating with the Nazis? The Vatican collaborated also. See Croatian entries, Jasenovac death camp, Cardinal Stepinac, etc.
  • See Plamenac entry at
Much more to be found out here - independence was achieved in 2006.
So: patriot, educated, cosmopolitan, sought independence.  The Axis Italians beat them back WWI, on the one side: Allied French beat them back when they tried again. 
WWII: Montenegro went with Germany that was occupying at the time in WWII, in this land that has been occupied by at least 8 nations in the last 1000 years, always occupied it; and the Allies kill him for collaborating.
There has to be more sense than that. Hold on.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cetinje - Monastery and caves.

Cetinje, Old Mountain Capitol, 1400's;
Elegant, 1700's rebuilt
Cetinje Monastery

Cetinje, Mongenegro, Monastery, Orthodox

Note the wheelchair for one of the worshippers, a young girl at services inside. Cetinje: To pronounce it, say the first C as a "ts." Say the J as a "y."
This is the old capital of Montenegro, with its historic monastery founded in 1484, rebuilt 1785. See
Behind it are cave-cliff areas, with the memorial to a person apparently shot by firing squad, that we now think is Jovan Plamenac, WWI and WWII patriot seeking independence for Montenegro, see post at Montenegro Road Ways, Jovan Simonov Plamenac.
Shrines and caves are all around, and with young men coming and going in clusters, heads together. Was this because there was a vote coming up for independence or not, and people were being cautious in what they said around others. Also clusters of older men in overcoats, at the hotel and elsewhere, equally intent.
The monastery has had a variety of uses, while remaining a church. It housed the first schools, and once housed the manufacture of zinc cannon balls. See
The area is rocky "karst" and the cliffs are riddled with tunnels and caves. Anyone hiding would be nearly impossible to find. See landscape photo at
The monastery there is one of the oldest and most revered in Montenegro. Symbolic. See People carried a young girl from the wheelchair there, into the service.
Religious rivalry. Christians East and West.

This has been intense between the Orthodox Christians and the Roman Catholic Christians has been part of the landscape for over a thousand years. At least.
 There was a tragic culmination of it in the treatment of Orthodox in the Nazi era concentration camp at Jasenovac in Croatia, say the Orthodox, where Orthodox were killed while priests stood by, merely offering to convert the condemned to Catholicism before they were killed. Unrest by many who want to bring that issue into the open. See See also Croatia Road Ways post: Jasenovac.
Roots of people's divisions - subterranean, bursting. Who to believe. Each believes self.
Attending the Orthodox service:
Stand in the back for a 10AM chanted service. People came and went during it. We stayed for nearly an hour. More about the monastery at Many young men were there, and entire families, and this was on a non-holiday weekday.  Many of the young men gathered behind, at the memorial.
The wheelchair:  the monastery bells rang for the morning service, and a young girl, perhaps with cerebral palsy, was carried-helpwalked to it. There is her wheelchair. The church was full, but many people came and went, some stayed as we did. Standing. Relics are here, in the museum attached, with many guards.

Cetinje, Montenegro, Orthodox Monastery facade

Read the history of the monastery at This presents its story from the point of view of piety, tradition, the meaning of the place and its suffering.

Few websites convey the religious depth of a monastery like this one. Take time to read this one. It sounds like one of the monks wrote it. Salute the reverence, the relics.  Live the razing by the Turks, the rebuilding, the importance of foundations.
The monastery is the center of the universe for the monk, is written. It is Serbian Orthodox, and many Russian pilgrims come. See In what ways do the various Orthodox churches differ? Need to find out.
The religious divisions in Montenegro show a strong majority of Orthodox: There are 74% Orthodox, 18% Muslim, 3.5% Roman Catholic, see US Embassy Religious Freedom Report 2008 at
Behind the monastery is this shrine, a martyr from a modern war, we think Jovan Plamenac. His life extended from WWI, WWII.  He was killed by the French. There are fresh flowers, always the young men moving about. We kept at a distance. Other sites focus on the struggle for survival over the centuries, wars. See
The area is full of caves, for living, hiding, munitions.
Cetinje, Montenegro, cave area, behind monastery

This also would be an excellent geo-tourism site because of the geological sites and attractions, as we also suggest for Kotor Bay. See book "Geotourism" by Ross Dowling at this site:
Montenegro is now independent, as of 6/06.
Centuries of struggle here, and in all the Western Balkans. The area has been a crossroads for monolithic and violent movements in religion, empire, and just plain greed-treachery. Hard to put it all together; but clearly the mountainous terrain made foreign settlement difficult. See http://// for History of Cetinje.
Can someone translate the shrine and email us so we can double check our identification as Plamenac?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Velika Plaza, Beach (Long Beach). Mountains, Resorts.

.Velika Plaza
The Financial Times, through James Owen, cites Velika Plaza as a flawless pearl, Financial Times, April 26-27, 2008.  Can it survive, can its spectacles of its coast and mountains, largely uninhabited, survive the coming tourism.
1.  Velika Plaza - There are apparently great waves here, at this The Adriatic Riviera. The area was heavily influenced by the Venetians, and little walled cities sprang up.

Fair use thumbnail:  Velika Plaza, Montenegro

 This from

2. Ada Bojana - This is an island where the Bojana River enters the Adriatic Sea.  This thumbnail is from,12318.html/

See full size image 

3. Ulcinj - a small city not far from the beach, and we see that a water taxi is available

So much of Montenegro that we saw consisted of its fabulous mountains and fjords, that we thought this shoreline should also be mentioned.  Even the fort at the walled city of Budva is rocky.  The roads inland are fine, we found, and we do not mind long stretches of just the views, but others may want some other sights.  Is there still nudity at a German-favored vacation spot at Velike?

4. Island of Sveti Stefan - village turned into one big resort. It is owned by Aman Resorts Group. Russian investors are all over. Big villas on the shore.

5. Zabljak - Tito and his partisans were active in this area in World War II, and it is now a small ski resort. The water supply is limited to 8 hours a day, but the scenery is beautiful.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

History sites - History of Central Europe. Grounding.

Grounding Yourself. Cetinje - Old Capitol
How to Find Your Way in Unfamiliar Areas - The Balkans

Cetinje Monastery, Montenegro, signpost at exterior

Finding your way. Here, signpost in Cetinje - We were glad to see on this signpost, outside a venerable monastery,  the directions to the Louvre and the Vatikan, complete with kilo-mileage.

1. The old Yugoslavia.

History for this region is a complex matter of boundaries, and inclusions in larger entities, then those entities falling apart.

To organize your own thinking about Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and more, go to // Go to the section labeled "Yugoslavia," the old name for several countries united, now separate.

2. Also read the 1905 book, now a Google book, "The Burden of the Balkans,"

This is by M. Edith Durham. M for Mary. Do a search for the book title and look for the google, because this address is long: //

3. The saw. Reading technique for too-thick paperbacks.

This little saw from a Victorian-Edwardian hatpin, see Hatpins Collection Tour, Simonds Saw, relevant because Cetinje in particular was thriving during those years.  


For this particular saw, see Immediately slice into sections with your kitchen carving knife,  "Black Lamb, and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia," by Rebecca West, published 1941, in full as a Google Book at a thousand pages) or start with enotes at

The paperback is unmanageably thick. The margins get lost as you bend, bend to try to read.

Take the countries or areas that you will be seeing, and saw them off and carry separately.  As you reach an area, pull out the more manageable paperback bit.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Montenegro finally getting travel news headlines. Travel Market.

The Wisdom of Russia in Investing.
Travel Market.

Montenegro's Recreational, Ski, Travel Destination/Resources
Our US interest in footholds for our markets:  We go too fast for military advantage.  Foreign policy may be a side effect of investment in travel and recreation - but look at what we are missing in Montenegro.  Business opportunities flying past us.

We understand that Russia and other countries are buying up whatever they can in Montenegro for the travel market.  And with good reason.

Montenegro, Kotor Bay

See the New York Times, Sunday, July 22, 2007 - "Montenegro, An Adriatic Stretch is Awaiting Its Riviera Moment," by Clay Risen. A fitting tribute to a jewel. The country is between Croatia and Albania on the Adriatic Coast; and to the south west of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the southeast of Serbia. It is now on the euro, making travel easier, and prices are still excellent compared to Croatia and its tourist-filled Dubrovnik.

Apparently Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor visited here - is that an endorsement? Yes. The article summarizes Budva, with its Venetian fort, and the resort of Sveti Stefan, on an island with a causeway, Boka Kotorska, the Bay of Kotor, and Perast, all the topics of posts here. New information - Perast had a fine nautical academy where Peter the Great studied; and the islands were the meeting place for towns to work out disputes.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Casino Royale and maybe one Montenegro Backdrop

 Hollywood at the Bay of Kotor?
Casino Royale Film

There are scenes toward the end of Casino Royale that could well be the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, and not Lake Como in Italy at all. But it has been too long since I was at Lake Como in Italy to be sure, and the screen credits only show Lake Como.

Lake Como also has high mountains around. One thing clear - James Bond 007 was not in Montenegro except for perhaps a backdrop (see our home page for the bay, and the monasteries on the islands). The screen credits show only Italy and the Czech Republic, appropriately.

So, go to Montenegro.

More blogs about Montenegro Road Ways.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Skiing in Montenegro - Durmitor National Park

Skiing, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Durmitor, National Park, Montenegro

In the distance is the mountain range that offers superb skiing we hear. We did not go up to these alpine-like areas, because spring roads can be in poor shape with the snow melt and we were short on time,  but sports enthusiasts will want to look up, and especially Durmitor National Park. See

Montenegro map, Budva road choice

Budva or Vertical Mountain Road
Choose Budva If On Your Own

Choosing the longer route, reluctantly. It is easy to take a junket from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to see this beautiful neighboring country. See map at Spend a night Cavtat, Croatia; then drive on around Bay of Kotor to Kotor itself.

You can see some of the old curtain walls going up the mountainside, additional defense. Also, note the palm trees in Kotor. Unexpected, but we understand the bowl formed by the mountains moderates the climate. Is that so?

Kotor, Montenegro, Mountains

Then look again at the surroundings, and the map to find Cetinje, the next stop.

We had two choices after Kotor:

a) the vertical snaking-looking road up through mountains to Cetinje, the old capital. Or,

b) the conservative and coastal road to old beachy Budva first, with the castle, then on more of a level road around to Cetinje.

There is a time for even the Car-Dan Tour Company to be Conservative. Reluctantly. Geography rules. So we went the long way, the scenic old Budva walled city way.

And, looking at the maps, no wonder the Montenegrins moved their capital down from Cetinje in the high karst mountains, to the levels at Podgorice, on the level road way to Cetinje.

Looks very industrial, lots of smokestacks. Accessible. But the new capital over there can have none of the patina, the faded grande dame mystique of Cetinje.

Just business. Next trip, maybe, up we go, over the top, very slowly.

Budva - Where Zeus captured Europa

 Budva, Montenegro - A Place of Myth
This is where the god Zeus captured the lovely Europa. Its mythological roots run deep. See

Archeological people say that the town was settled, with records and all, in the 4th Century. It has a readily identifiable rock formation, the Island of St. Nikola. It helps to do an Images search if a photo in your own camera is unclear when you get back. Looking up those third-party photos is the best way to check which picture of a walled city is which.

For Budva, see also, and navigate about. The rock formations are the identification for sure.

Budva, Montenegro. View from castle to sea.

Budva is a fine walled city, with impressive rocks to dash invaders.

It shows how dangerous many of the harbors were, and why walled cities on peninsulas were effective defenses. Little chance to hover about and think. Do see this overview gallery -

Here is an etching of the town map in 1615. At etching. Numbers 3 and 4 on the map look like Kotor and Bay of Kotor, from the location, not the spelling, and number 2 could be Cetinje, but I am not sure. Walls and battlements.