16

Why you shoud put Great Montenego Tour on your BUCKET LIST

„Here, everyone gets a free shot. It will burn a little bit but it will kill all the germs and you’ll warm up“, our guide said and passed a small cup of Rakia known as local (and very strong) brandy. „Cheers and bottoms up!“, she said and everyone drank. It was 10:00 am.
„Now, since we followed Montenegrin tradition, we can proceed to breakfast!“, the guide added smiling while leaving the small dark smoked room where prosciutto is being made.

Just a regular morning at the oldest restaurant in Montenegro „Kod Pera pod Bukovicu“.

We started the famous Great Montenegro Tour from the office of „360 Monte“ Travel Agency. We’ve passed to the mini-bus just outside the walls of Kotor and headed to the mountains that were still blocking the sun even though it was 8:30 am.

As we started driving up the 25 curves of the Old Austro-Hungarian Road from 19th century, some travelers from the group put down their Lonely Planet books about Montenegro since it was much more interesting (and fun) listening to our guide telling all important information about this unexplored and astonishing place.

one

Sun was struggling with the huge “black mountain” Lovćen that we were about to conquer. It was so apparent how Montenegro got its name.
We stopped at 9th serpentine to capture waking town of Kotor while the stupendous cruiser with 3.000 passengers was trying to reach the port of the Old Town below us.
As we were driving higher, the cruise was getting smaller and the Bay wider and deeper.
Each bent was rising us until we reached a vintage point from 1.000 meters of altitude at 25th bend.

two

Oh my!
Everyone. Speechless.

You can hear only camera clicks.

Boka Bay with its glacial origin reveals history of fiords, showing dramatic movements of land that had intimate and at the same time the most wild and passionate encounter with deep ink blue water. At some places its depth reaches impressive 60 meters.
High elevations are definitely different appearance from other parts of Adriatic coast. When you see mountains growing up high like crazy, you’ll know you’re in Montenegro.

Even though the view was impressive enough to wake everybody up, we still needed a coffee so the tour continued through the slopes of Mt. Lovćen at Njeguši. The legendary village where the best Montenegrin prosciutto (smoked dry ham) is made. This is the place where you want to stay and take as many deep healthy breaths as possible – in a moment you feel fresh crispy air, in next, your senses will be irritated by prosciutto smell which will immediately make you crave food.

Courteous driver suddenly started shouting something that no one understands at the sheep which were blocking the road, and the inquisitive tourists (including myself) used that opportunity to capture more of the day.

three

As we reached 1.150 meters, the mini-bus stopped at the beautiful countryside house with a wide flowers-decorated terrace. It was chilly outside but pleasant.

four

10:00 am. Food time.
And free rakia shots.

five

After filling up with the energy (and big cups of coffee), the group was ready to burn the tasty ham with climbing the top of Lake peak where the mausoleum was placed.
“The sea of rocks”, as the Lovćen NP is also called, has no river or lake to discover, the road is damaged by strong melting snow in springtime, limestone shattered on sides and roots of trees sticking out from the ground. While we tried to capture this dramatic scenery from another planet surrounded with endless rocks, two elevations emerged – Štirovnik (1749 m) as the highest and Lake Peak as the following (1659 m).

six

All right,
The climbing can start!
461 step to the top – 70% of Montenegro to be seen!

Do not start without water, sunglasses and all possible cameras that you have.

From 1/3 of the way we were already amazed – the tour guide was showing enormous nature oasis Skadar Lake which spreads 70% across Montenegro and 30% in Albania.

seven

While we got to the top, everybody were breathless, but stunned.

eight

Don’t miss the story and the statue of the Peter II Petrović Njegoš, ruler of Montenegro, the tallest known man in Balkans in 19th century.
As the lovers of art and I were beaming all over with joy with viewing the masterpiece done by famous sculptor Ivan Meštović, the other people were admiring 18 kg of pure gold that was sparkling from the ceiling.

nine

On the other side of the mausoleum a narrow path guided to a rocky circle and to – THE TOP OF THE WORLD.

ten

Almost all Montenegrin land below our feet.

Spectacular.

The breeze was just to cool us down from jumping – not from the top of the mountainJ, but up to capture the famous “jumping photo” which is really unbelievable! (Your guide will show you how to do it, one second of effort and you get picture like that):

11

This adventure slow down during the ride to Cetinje where half of the bus was fully using the “nap time”.

From the steep and high elevated peak we went down to a valley where the Old Royal Capital was tucked away.

12

Grounded, colorful houses and richly decorated former embassies from 19th century were showing royal history of this place, but many of the wrecks even covered in poster were revealing turbulent events that occurred many decades and centuries ago. The story of the guide completely followed the scenery, definitely enjoyable and simplified.

13

Within its best glory – next stop was The River of Crnojević!
Many of the people said that it reminds them to Vietnam or New Zealand, but nothing similar to Europe.
Without capturing “the most popular postcard picture in Montenegro” don’t think of leaving this this place.
14

It was 15:00 pm, and as the temperature was rising, the smell of grown figs bewitched our senses and again the food was only point of interest.

 

Romantic view to the river from the restaurant “The Last Port” (symbolically called by the owner who was asaylor for 50 years) distracted us from lunch briefly, but as soon as the fish soup was at the table, we devoured it.

The food was matching location, so the main course (trout) was caught in Skadar Lake and the finest unlabeled wine was supplied from local vineyards.

15

Do not think twice when it comes to boat ride! As that is optional on the tour (with surcharge), the whole group has to decide together. When you see the river and that crazy beauty, it will be very easy to make your mind.

One hour with a swimming option if the day is too hot was just enough to see and feel all the lush vegetation rich in fish and birds flying everywhere.

16

Flock of white fat geese was staring at us as we were passing so we pointed our zoom to them. Herons were showing off proudly standing on one feet, while the cormorants were mostly careless about the tourist, rather occupied drying their wings on the sun.

17

Our skipper provided some homemade vine that he made himself.
It was a blast.

18

From the peace and river heaven, the tour continued to Budva – again completely different then everything seen so far.

Budva is “Miami of Montenegro” with beautiful beaches, palm trees, fancy shops and, as our guide said, never-ending party.

19

Even the Old Town is shiny, just to match all the new construction around.
Walking tour remind us of the ancient history of this place and the giant mosaic floor from a Roman house returned us for a moment back in time.

20

Overwhelmed with Montenegrin astonishing beauty and all the new information learned we closed up the day in Budva with delicious gelato and satisfied went back to Kotor driving along with the sunset.

21

This is a post written in collaboration with the „360 Monte“ Travel Agency.

Hipmunk Hotels: Economical Stays in Richmond, Harrisonburg, Arlington, Alexandria, and Reston

Virginia is a unique area in many ways. The undeniable charisma of the Old Towns, wonderful waterfront sceneries, and culinary delis are something to look forward to. Once you feel the groovy spirit of Deep South cities like Richmond, Harrisonburg, Arlington, Alexandria, and Reston, you would never want to leave.

Hotels in Richmond, VA

If the “National Geographic” refers to Richmond as the place to travel for good food, you don’t have to think twice about your next stop. Choose one of the countless accommodation options, and discover why this eclectic city is among the best travel and leisure destinations. Among the hotels in Richmond, you can find bed and breakfasts in the historic district, such as The Museum District B&B on Grove Avenue, built in 1922, modest Airbnb accommodations, and momentous buildings with luxury embrace like The Jefferson, open since 1895. Experience this city by going places and taking part in activities that are popular with locals.

Image via Flickr by taberandrew

Hotels in Harrisonburg, VA

Harrisonburg, as a multicultural city with traditional hospitality and alluring natural surroundings, covers all. Thanks to the many hiking trails, all the treasures of this city, from art and culture to farms and vineyards, are easily accessible on foot or by bike. If any part of the city becomes your preference, comfortable lodging in Harrisonburg is at a nearby corner. The city offers various bed & breakfasts and inns, for those who prefer cozier, more personal accommodations or simply have a smaller budget. And on the other side, there are major national hotel brands, like Sleep Inn and Suites and the Best Western, with moderate prices of around $85 per night that are also available.

Image via Flickr by taberandrew

Hotels in Arlington, VA

If you choose to stay in Arlington, VA, while visiting Washington, D.C., you will benefit in many ways. Hotels in Arlington are located within 3 miles of downtown D.C. and just minutes away by bridge or metro.  All major national historic attractions and fun places are easily accessible from both locations. There are many convenient hotel offers in Arlington that you won’t find at the downtown hotels, with up to 20 percent discount on daily rates; just to mention a few with excellent reviews and reasonable prices, you can check out Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston and Le Meridien Arlington.

Image via Flickr by m01229

Hotels in Alexandria, VA

From the time when Alexandria was part of Washington, D.C., the amazing Old Town Alexandria offers a preserved historic district. If you want to take a tour around the city and visit its historical landmarks, like George Washington Masonic Memorial or even hop over to the D.C. side, there are numerous public transportation outlets that are accessible and practical. The city has something for every travel purpose and budget. Choose from a wide selection of boutique or chain Alexandria hotels, such as Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria, from $77 per night, and Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, from $79 per night, or consider many historic century-old bed and breakfasts and other accommodations.

Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

Hotels in Reston, VA

The city of Reston is situated only 20 miles from the nation’s capital, and due to its closeness and good connection to many major roadways and rail systems, Maryland and other destinations in Virginia are effortlessly reachable. It’s possible to find hotels in Reston for under $100 a night, which makes playing golf in the off season in this area very affordable. Hotels like The Westin Reston Heights and The Sheraton Reston Hotel offer rates of approximately $110 a night. For business people, downtown accommodations with leisure facilities are the best option, such as Hyatt Regency Reston. Or, if you’d like to spend a night near the airport, Crown Plaza Dulles Airport has great deals all year round.

Image via Flickr by Payton Chung

This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign.

 

 

9-10-2016-2-19-21-pm

Life is Better on an Island

Don’t we all dream of heading off to a new, scenic location where we can make the best use of the remaining summer sun and immerse ourselves in myriad shades of blue? The end of August is the perfect time to explore. The summer is still warm, but with an ever-present breeze, and sometimes the waves are just asking to be followed. We boarded the boat at the city port in Budva and set off on an adventure. The destination: the largest island in this part of the archipelago, the island of Sveti Nikola (St. Nicholas). The locals also call it Školj, or “shell”, because its shape resembles that of a seashell. And, as we all know, every shell has a story…

9-2-2016 2-31-40 PM

The fascinating cliffs running around the Old City led us to the famous cave, in which the deep blue waters lured us to dive in and explore the underwater world.

9-2-2016 2-21-37 PM

9-2-2016 2-18-37 PM

One kilometer (0.6 miles) separated us from a dreamy, tropical destination and complete tranquility. The journey around the island, getting to know its past, and the deposits of sedimentary rock, reminded us of how short and fleeting the human lifespan is. The high cliffs with their colorful green vegetation descended precipitously, deep into the sea, and in between them narrow layers of white pebbles could be glimpsed in the shadows of the rocks here and there.

Untitled design-1

9-2-2016 2-33-18 PM

9-2-2016 2-34-44 PM

9-2-2016 2-36-02 PM

9-2-2016 2-36-52 PM

We discovered these small, natural beaches from the sea, and they enticed us with their perfection. The entire island of Sveti Nikola is two kilometers (one mile) long, and the highest cliff on the island stands at 121 meters (397 feet).

9-2-2016 2-55-17 PM

9-2-2016 2-56-12 PM

9-2-2016 2-56-28 PM

The island was named for the Church of St. Nicholas, which dates back to at least the sixteenth century. Three large beaches with beach bars are popular, with many small beaches around the island only accessible from the sea. We decided to swim to one and found the combination of the dramatic rocks and the peculiar settlement surrounded with lush vegetation, as well as the crystalline, turquoise waters, unusually appealing, and we decided we wanted to return as soon as possible.

9-2-2016 3-05-55 PM

9-2-2016 3-06-34 PM

9-2-2016 3-08-31 PM

700_Ulcinj (10)

Artistic and Archaeological Riches of Montenegro

Montenegro has a tradition of art going back to prehistory, as testified to by the archaeological finds of paintings by prehistoric man in Lipci near Risan dating to the 8th century BC. The drawing represents a deer hunt, and also features a symbol of the rising sun and others. Another drawing has been discovered on a stone tablet in the Prokletije mountains in the north of Montenegro, depicting a prehistoric man and a wolf.
The Crvena Stijena (Red Rock) site in Petrovići is around 30km from Nikšić and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. Remains from the Middle Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages have been found here, and are highly significant, testifying to the beginnings of life not just in this part of Montenegro but on the planet as a whole. For many years, local and foreign expeditions have been coming to this unique and internationally significant site. More than 26,000 items from the time of prehistoric man have been excavated here. A great many items used in everyday life have been discovered, such as for the procurement and preparation of food, but also non-utilitarian items. These include handmade stone items, snails and shells, as well as ceramic vessels.
The numerous medieval fortresses in Montenegro are an art-form in their own right. They feature Byzantine, Romanic, Gothic and Baroque construction styles, as well as stone forms and paintings. Through the ages these fortresses have played a military and feudal role, or were built as town fortifications. They are built of stone and feature surrounding walls and towers. These fascinating structures were raised in numerous coastal towns, where Illyrian, Austro-Hungarian, Turkish and Spanish influences predominate, such as in Bar, Ulcinj, Herceg Novi, Budva, Kotor, Risan, Perast, as well as in the north of Montenegro: Rijeka Crnojevića, Podgorica and the Lake Skadar area.

The National Museum at Cetinje includes: King Nikola’s Museum, the Museum of Petar II Petrovic Njegoš, the birth house of Njegoš, the Njegoš Mausoleum on Lovćen, Bishop Danilo’s Mausoleum on Orlov Krš, the Art Museum together with the Dado Đurić Contemporary Art Gallery, the Ethnographic Museum and the newly-opened Archaeological Museum and Lapidarium.
The National Museum houses collections of weapons, medals, flags, crests, stamps, photographs, as well as archaeological, numismatic, ethnographic and applied art collections. There are also the residence and the chapel raised in honour of the secular and spiritual leader, poet and philosopher Petar II Petrović Njegoš. During the 1970s the Montenegro Art Museum was known as the Art Gallery, and houses some 3,000 exhibits, including some of the most important works in contemporary Yugoslav and Montenegrin fine art.

TAJNA-ĆEMOVSKOG-POLJA-1

Montenegro Wine Tour

If you love wine and want a unique holiday  then you should not miss going on one of  the wine tours on offer in Montenegro.
It is not widely known that Montenegro, apart from its beautiful seaside and mountain villages, also boasts regions that are famed for producing exceptional and world-renowned wine varieties. France, Italy and Portugal have for many years been building credibility as top tourist destinations thanks to wine tourism. The many scenic regions of our country are perfect for enjoying this type of tourism. The mild Mediterranean climate, the composition of the soil and the favorable location provide ideal conditions for cultivating vineyards and growing grapes. The best-known grape-growing areas are Crmnica, Nahije, Komani, Bjelopavlici and other wine-producing villages around Lake Skadar. Montenegrin wines are produced from various types of grape, including Krstač, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Vranac.

vlcsnap-2011-11-01-14h56m55s199

n 2010 and 2011, signage was put up and the “Wine Roads” of Montenegro were fully marked out. A tourist map of the wine tours can be picked up in local tourist offices in any town in Montenegro, at hotel receptions and in travel agencies. If you like an active holiday, the Wine Roads offer you a chance to visit wine cellars, taste wines, walk through the vineyards and even take part in grape-picking. Wine can be tested, tried and purchased in wine cellars, while some wineries also offer accommodation, so visitors can get the complete experience, learn about the history of the winery, see wine being made and of course enjoy the finished product.

Carry On with Bravo TV’s Tour Group Host Brandon Presser

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 4, 2016 by .

Brendon_Pressor_Carry_On

As a travel expert, TV host, and writer, Brandon Presser is no stranger to life on the go. Presser, who has visited more than 100 countries, has penned over 50 travel books, and is a regular contributor for such publications as Afar, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, and National Geographic Traveler. And while he may be well known in the travel industry, he’s about to experience a whole new level of recognition: Presser is the lead host of Bravo TV’s new travel-based reality show, “Tour Group“, which tags along as 11 travelers search for the ultimate vacation. (10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.)  We got Presser to stay in one place long enough to give us his best travel advice, his favorite places to go, and the items he can’t leave home without. 

Brandon_Pressor_Carry_On

Hipmunk: So, tell us. What’s in your carry-on?

Brandon Presser: A dopp kit with some small essentials like eye drops, moisturizer, a travel toothbrush, Advil, and Ursa Major face towelettes; a small pouch with some lucky charms (a few pebbles I’ve collected from different beaches around the world–I’m a little superstitious!); a good book (that I never finish); an iPad fully loaded with some of my favorite movies; Bose headphones; and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

H: Carry on bag of choice? 

BP: If I’m hauling some serious carry-on luggage and want the flexibility of bringing more things home, I go for the Dakine Over Under bag, which can grow and shrink in size. For quick trips I’m obsessed with Fjallraven’s safari duffle.

H: How often do you travel?

BP: I’ll travel through roughly 15 countries a year, which has me on one or two large trips a month. Last year’s highlights included everything from Tahiti to Portugal, and leading 11 strangers on a world tour through Africa and Asia while making “Tour Group.”

H: First, business class or coach?

BP: Each travel project I work on has different travel parameters–sometimes I’m in coach, other times I’m in first. I can tell you that it’s super hard to do a long-haul flight at the back of the plane after being treated to the flat beds up front.

H: Ok, now that we’re warmed up, let’s play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?

BP: Tokyo is the best canvas for my work–whether it’s researching and writing articles and guidebooks or leading travelers through the incredible neighborhoods. The city is an endless well of oddities and curious fads. (Read Brendon’s articles on Tokyo’s oddities and fads here and here, respectively).

H: Favorite city for play? Why?

BP: Luckily, my work life and play life are closely intertwined. And Tokyo never stops inspiring me to get out there and explore with its thousands of cool restaurants, bars, shops and public spaces.

H: Favorite hotels?

BP: I’ve stayed in more than 2,500 hotels worldwide, so this is definitely a tricky one to answer. In the last 12 months some of my hotel highlights have included: Four Seasons Bora Bora, Twin Farms in Vermont, and Roch Castle in Wales.

H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?

BP: I’m really loving JetBlue’s newest aircrafts right now–the entertainment system is bigger and better than ever, the coach seats really aren’t bad, and there’s an endless supply of snacks. Portland’s PDX wins domestically for making a promise to its traveler to not price gauge on snacks and supplies. And Hong Kong wins internationally for Cathay Pacific’s awesome business class lounge with delicious food and state-of-the-art shower facilities.

H: Any travel tips before you take off?

BP: Change your place; change your luck.

Follow Brandon:

Website: brandonpresser.com

Twitter: @bpnomad

Instagram: brandpress

Hipmunk’s Guide to Landing the Lowest Summer Airfare

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on April 12, 2016 by .

summer-buy-blog

Gas prices are down, the temperature is heating up, and travelers are inevitably looking to take advantage of both this summer.

In fact, with all the sunny news about oil prices you may be itching to plan an escape of your own. But summer is three whole months long, airfare is usually priced at a premium, and there tends to be a lot of confusion for travelers around the optimal purchase date to obtain the best deal. Indeed, the most asked travel advice question posed to Hipmunk Navigators concerns the best time to purchase a ticket.

As of March 31, 2016, overall domestic summer airfare (flights departing and returning during June, July, or August), is down from a median price of $330 to $286.

Similarly, flights from the US to major European countries – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland – follow the same trend: travelers this summer are paying about 15 percent less than last year, from a median price of $1331 to $1129.

And those savings seem to translate into a higher proportion of people planning longer getaways: In 2015, 46 percent of summer vacations that involved flights lasted four days or fewer, while just 33 percent lasted between seven and 10 days.

In 2016, however, 40 percent are four days or fewer, while 38 percent are between seven and 10 days, indicating a shift towards longer vacations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.40.30 AM

To ensure that the hardest decision you’ll have to make this summer season is which umbrella drink you’ll order, Hipmunk analyzed its historical booking data to find the best time to buy summer flights on a monthly and holiday basis. Further, you can find an an interactive guide to summer airfare that show the best times to book flights book flights from the top US cities to trending destinations for summer 2016, as well as Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 4th here.

Let’s dive in.

When to Buy: Summer Holiday

An analysis of Hipmunk’s historical data found that flights booked at least five to seven weeks in advance of major summer holidays—Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day—generally lock in better airfares.

Memorial Day: 5 weeks prior
The kick-off summer holiday weekend is also the second most popular travel time of the season and flight prices rise rapidly. The optimal time to buy according to historical data is five weeks prior to the holiday. (31 percent less than the week-of high.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.15.21 PM

Fourth of July: 6 weeks prior
The most popular time to travel during the summer season is the week leading up to the July 4th holiday. To avoid steep price hikes, it’s best to book six weeks prior. (21 percent less than the week-of high.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.19.38 PM

Labor Day: 7 weeks prior
The unofficial end of the summer also has the longest lead time. A safe bet is to purchase tickets towards the end of July when prices are their lowest—about seven weeks before the holiday weekend. However, if your plans are up in the air, you might be able to secure that same price up to three weeks in advance. (60 percent less than the week-of high.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.01.10 PM

When to Buy: Vacation Month

If your dates are more flexible and you’re trying to decide when to buy tickets to score the lowest prices for a particular month, our data showed that there were two times when travelers could optimize their purchasing power: two months before the beginning of summer or five to seven weeks prior to their departure month, with a vacation in August needing the least amount of lead time and a vacation in July the most.

June: Now, or mid-May

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 5.48.11 PM

July: Now, or the first week of June

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 5.43.06 PM

August: Next week, or the last week of July

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 5.42.21 PM

Now that you know the best times to buy for your summer vacation, it’s time to start planning. Try Hello Hipmunk, your free personal travel agent, to get flight and hotel recommendations straight to your inbox.

METHODOLOGY
Hipmunk analyzed its historical roundtrip airfare data from the top 30 US airports to determine the best times to purchase airfare.

To compare summer 2016 airfares and vacation lengths to those in summer 2015: Hipmunk calculated the median weekly round-trip flight prices for all flights booked during the first week of Jan 2015 through the last week of March 2015 for flights that departed and returned between Memorial Day and Labor Day, as well as the number of days of trip length for those flights, from the top 30 US airports (flight prices were included the week in which the flight departed). Hipmunk performed calculations with the same criteria for 2016 flights, and compared the results.

To find the best times to buy for lowest airfares: Hipmunk calculated the median weekly round-trip flight price from the top 30 US airports, for flights booked from the first week of April 2015 to the last week of August 2015 .

Hipmunk considered a flight for a holiday weekend one that departs up to three days prior to a holiday and returns up to two days after.

durmitor

UNESCO / Durmitor National Park

Many will be familiar with destinations from the UNESCO World Heritage List such as the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in England, the Grand Canyon in Colorado and Lake Bled in Slovenia.  But did you know that also on UNESCO’s list of world natural and cultural heritage sites is Montenegro’s biggest national park, Durmitor? Durmitor National Park encompasses the Durmitor chain of mountains and the canyons of the Tara river with their 1,500 plant species and 130 bird species. The Tara River Canyon has been declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and there are also the Draga and Sušica canyons, the Komarnica canyon valley and a great many mountain-tops – 48 of them exceeding 2,000 metres above sea-level. There are also 18 glacial lakes that have been dubbed the Gorske Oči – the Eyes of the Mountain. Along with hundreds of other destinations the world over, this park has been specially selected for protection by the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). The park is of inestimable value to all of humanity as a centre for the development of Balkan flora, with features of both alpine and arctic and, on the southern slopes, in the canyon valleys, thriving sub-Mediterranean and even Mediterranean vegetation, while the lakes are a focal point for plant life more typical of the Siberian taiga. The mountain meadows and pastures, the deep fissures, rock gardens, scree slopes, melt waters, peat bogs and freshwater habitats are what makes this part of south-eastern Europe so valuable, and incomparable to anywhere else in the world.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/suma.jpg

Durmitor National Park extends over 39,000 hectares, with 20,000 hectares under UNESCO protection after its inscription in the World Heritage list in 1980. Durmitor also comprises the highest-altitude town in the Balkans – Žabljak, located at 1,456m above sea-level and surrounded by no less than twenty-three peaks more than 2,300m in height.
German geographer Kurt Hassert said,
“Among the mountain giants of the south-Slavic countries, the most powerful and most magnificent is Durmitor”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photography lovers will attest to the fact that the combination of mountains and lakes makes for some of the most beautiful, natural subject matter. Durmitor National Park is an inexhaustible source of inspiration from which some of the most beautiful works of art have sprung, and the very name Durmitor has some interesting stories associated with it. It is told that the word Durmitor is of Romanic origin, from the Latin word dormitorium – it was from this word that the Italian word dormitorio came, or dormire, meaning to sleep.  When they were advancing into this territory the Roman legionaries are said to have asked themselves whether perhaps the mountain was sleeping. Another etymology of the name Durmitor dates back to the time of the Celts. According to this version the name is derived from the Celtic “water from the mountain” – dru-mi-tor, which many find a more likely explanation.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/jezero-1024x768.jpg

Some notable peaks dominate, setting the rhythm for all the others. The most striking are: Bobotov Kuk – 2,523m, Bezimeni Vrh – 2,487m, Minin Bogaz – 2,387m, Međed – 2,287m, Savin Kuk – 2,313m, Ljeme – 2,455m, Planinica – 2,330m, Crvena Greda – 2,175m and Pruta – 2,393m. The Austrian explorer Oscar Baumann was the first to scale the highest peak of Durmitor – Botovo Kuk – at a height of 2,523m, and his thoughts, written in “First Steps in Ciro’s Cave”, are still quoted today: “To our east stretched a deserted valley in the karst, full of rocky debris and snow drifts … while on the other side we were greeted by the green landscape … [A]ll was glistening beside Lakes Skrcko and Malo, which looked like two dark blue eyes”.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/dolina-1024x768.jpg

In its unbelievably deep and picturesque valleys, beneath the mountain slopes, surrounded by rich plant life, Durmitor conceals eighteen glacial lakes or, as the locals calls them, the Eyes of the Mountain. Mentioning just a few of them, there are Modro, Zminje, Vražje, Riblje and, certainly the best known, Crno Jezero (the Black Lake) which is frozen over in winter but in July and August reaches water temperatures of twenty celsius or more.
This mountain range offers ideal conditions for active holidaying all the year round – hiking, biking, angling, mountaineering and snowshoeing – but Durmitor also offers opportunities to get to know its cultural and historical heritage with visits to sites preserving prehistoric remains dating back to the time of the Illyrians, as well as the Romans. A variety of cultural influences have left their mark in the form of various characteristic structures. The Illyrians left tumuli, or burial mounds, while characteristic of the Roman period are stone bridges, standing stones and caravan trails that can be found in this region. Necropolises with their stylised tombstones, the ruins of Turkish bridges and watchtowers along the old Montenegrin-Turkish border, the remains of the ancient fortification of Pirlitor above Lever and the three monasteries in the Tara valley, at Dobrilovina, Dovolja and Đurđevića Tara, raised between the 15th and 17th centuries – all bear witness to a thriving mediaeval world here.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/P1010044-1024x768.jpg

Seven areas of the Durmitor National Park are subject to special protection schemes, each with their own specific characteristics: the old-growth spruce and fir forest in the Mlinski Potok valley, the stands of black pine at Crni Podi in the Tara canyon, the Black Lake with its nearby forest, the Skrčka lakes valley and the immediate area of the Sušica canyon, the Barno Jezero lake with its immediate surroundings, the Zabojsko Jezero lake with surroundings and the area along the Tara river canyon.
Do you want to discover and enjoy the beauty of world heritage? Durmitor National Park is a destination you should not miss – just look at how magical the Black Lake is in winter.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/P1010050-1024x768.jpg

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/NY-768x1024.jpg

Save

hn

Explore the amazing Adriatic old town of Herceg Novi

Fortress, small squares, old churches, narrow streets, exotic vegetation – all features of the town of Herceg Novi. Situated at the very entrance to one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the Boka Kotorska (the Bay of Kotor), it abounds in historical and artistic heritage, unique and varied flora and day trip that are destinations surrounded by nature and suitable for visits all the year round due to the exceptionally mild, warm climate. The average annual air temperature in Herceg Novi is 16 degrees centigrade.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/1024_Herceg_Novi_Pogled_Sa_Mora_DSC0684.jpg

Whether you are coming from East or West, as you turn off the main highway into the centre of town itself, the first thing to greet you will be the magnificent Kanli Kula fortress. It is often said that the fortress, owing to its size and position, rules over the town. It dates from the 16th century, and like most of Herceg Novi is built of stone, with thick walls and towers. Kanli Kula is known across the Adriatic as a fantastic summer theatre stage, into which it was adapted in 1966. Every summer evening Kanli Kula is the venue for all kinds of concerts, film events and more besides. During the day visitors can tour the walls and enjoy the splendid view over the town for only €1 – the price of the entrance ticket. From here you can take the most beautiful photographs of the city and of the mouth of the Bay of Kotor. Descending the steps from Kanli Kula to the main town square, Nikola Đurković Square (previously called the Salt Square), our gaze alights on the Sahat or Sat Kula (the Clock Tower).

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/kW1zdZm_vyXaRHdljNwyTJRsty_7OgL24rwf01rwLScKSlQNGK-vfzYVWGI9GK7vFf4gXayRig=w1094-h615-no

The old clock at the top of the tower long withstood the rigours of time, only being replaced in 1995 with a new, electric one, and has always been one of the hallmarks of Herceg Novi. Built in 1667 during the time of Turkish rule, this tower, with steps running through it, is unusually positioned, and this fascinating structure has served as the main entrance to the town ever since it was built. The square is home to numerous cafes, banks, clothes stores and bookshops. Nearby is also the town market, where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables every day, mostly home-grown, as well as freshly caught fish from local fisherman.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/2oGVLw1qQJpZPlLZ2yuxpi9TS6eyMnk4GB6XlGmPXJsJNbO8xF-bUtv_VGfH1kp6AvqUNwrYoQ=w1094-h615-no

As soon as we get to the bottom of the steps from the main square, through the Clock Tower, we come across a second Old Town square called Belavista, meaning “beautiful view”. Belavista Square is dominated by the Orthodox Church of the Holy Archangel Michael, unique for its stone iconostasis. The Old Town square is a jewel of architecture. The water fountain in the centre of the Belavista Square was recently reconstructed and is a real attraction for tourists.

https://www.montenegro.com/ic/c4/stories/com_city/herceg_novi/v/320_IST_2790_Herceg_Novi_Stari_Grad_0002.jpg

You can get down to the town promenade and beaches via any number of narrow passageways and steps. One of the most interesting is the passageway from Belavista  Square through Marka Cara Street (named after the writer) and the Catholic churches of St. Jerome’s (with its rich treasure-store) and St. Leopold Mandić’s. In this street lives a veritable dinosaur among trees – a Gingko biloba that has found its place amongst the numerous palms and seaside plant life.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/1rG1naohnTtew0ROvNmKsNaHeJb7XJrfTbsfkGxTApzf4PhuXJ5ZxOMuYsj1qDqNua1u6utGZA=w1094-h615-no

This passageway will also take you to the 15th century Forte Mare fortress by way of a symbolic little bridge that connects the fortress with the Old Town. Built on a rock, it rises steeply above the shore itself, towering over the Town Beach and the harbour (the Škver). At the lower side of Forte Mare there is a door that leads from the promenade to the top of the fortress, built into the walls themselves, and the upper door is also known as the Sea Door (Porta di mare) The Forte Mare Fortress is visible from all around and, as its name suggests, is a true sea fortress. Beginning on 1st July every year, films are shown here, turning it into an open-air cinema under the starry sky – a unique experience. It can be toured between 7 am and 7 pm every day. Tickets for individual visitors are €2 and €1 per person for group visits.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/fortemare.jpg

Descending to the Pet Danica Promenade, if we look towards the eastern part of town we can see the Citadela fortress. Standing in the sea itself, connected to the town centre by its walls, this tower was built during the time of Venetian rule. The earthquake which struck Herceg Novi  in 1979 completely demolished this fortress, the old walls of which still lie in the sea.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/citadela.jpg

If you decide to head in the other direction, toward the town harbour and the open-air water polo pool, you will see the Railway Station on your right, now wonderfully renovated as a tourist facility. This was a unique railway station in view of the fact that it was built on the very shores of the sea, next to the town harbour.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/setaliste.jpg

Little-known is the fact that trains once ran in the Boka along the Pet Danica Promenade and that the main station was in Zelenika, a few kilometres along the coast . The railway was officially opened on 16th July 1901 when the first train arrived in Zelenika carrying high officials of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ruled the Bay of Kotor at the time. The railway station building in Herceg Novi was built in 1934 thanks to the much-respected mayor of the time Mirko Komnenović. It was built of stone and reconstructed and reopened in 2005.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/kaktusi-1024x576.jpg

From the terrace of the “Station” there is a view of the small marina and lighthouse, where fishing and tourist boats and yachts moor. The Škver, as it is popularly known, is the best place to rent a craft or hop on one of the small boats that take trippers to popular spots around Herceg Novi that are most easily accessed by sea. In the summer months, when the town is very busy, Rose, Mamula and Žanjice are three not-to-be missed destinations, offering natural beauty, historical sights and a relaxing atmosphere.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/rose1-768x1024.jpg

Not only is Rose a beautifully-preserved little Mediterranean village, it is also one of the oldest settlements in the region.It is mentioned as far back as the 4th century by the name of Resnium. Around Rosa, both on land and in the sea, there are some very important archaeological sites. A great many divers come here to explore underwater and to tour the old shipwrecks from times gone by that lie on the sea bed. Rosa is also home to a very well-known diving camp. Alongside the beach, where there are several restaurants, there is the old Forte Rose fortress where there is also a restaurant and tourist amenities.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mamula-1024x768.jpg

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/putujemo-1024x768.jpg

The little rocky island of Lastavica on which the Mamula fortress stands is set on the sea route to Žanjice, at the very mouth of the Bay of Kotor. Although the Mamula fortress has a dark history it is an impressive sight. It is one of a series of important fortifications (together with Arza and Prevlaka) constructed by the Austro-Hungarian army in 1853 in order to defend the mouth of the bay. It was symbolically named after the Austrian general Lazar Mamula whose idea it was to raise a fortress on the island. Its remarkable architecture makes this fortress one of the most attractive in the Adriatic. The entrance to the fortress is on the north-eastern side of the island, where there is also a drawbridge. Although difficult to access, the site should not be missed, both for a tour and for some swimming in the summer months.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/zanjice-1024x768.jpg

If we continue towards the open sea we will reach the Žanjić beach, one of the most popular in Montenegro. This beach is special because of its crystal clear sea, naturally white pebbled beaches and ancient olive groves growing right next to the beach. You can take a look inside the Church of St. John, dating back to 1881 and located in the olive groves just a few steps from the beach. There you can hear the interesting story about this church and the idyllic location that is Žanjice, or take a stroll through breathtaking natural surroundings to the nearby Mirišta beach.

http://blog.montenegro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/brodic-1024x768.jpg

Save

Save

Great Budget Midwest Accommodation In Branson, Fort Wayne, Cleveland And More

The post below was originally published by Michael Hodson on goseewrite on June 28, 2016.

http://17721-presscdn-0-33.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Budget-200x300.png

The Midwest is a beautiful area of the country that has a wealth of different options for those who are looking for a destination for their next vacation. From the Ozark Mountains to the cosmopolitan cities, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, from outdoor pursuits to glamorous stage shows. If you are looking to travel on a budget, there are plenty of places that balance great attractions with affordable accommodation options, and here are a few suggestions for your next Midwest trip.

Branson

This lovely town in Missouri has a wealth of things to offer the visitor, with the riverboat cruises on the ‘Branson Belle’ having an old-time charm, while there are also great theaters for those who want to enjoy a show, and a series of excellent golf courses here too. In terms of good places to stay for those on a budget, check out these Branson hotels, with the Gazebo Inn being one affordable option that boasts an outdoor swimming pool.

Rosemont

Rosemont is a town found on the fringes of Chicago, that is often useful for those looking for accommodation near O’Hare Airport, but it is also the host to Chicago Comic Con and other popular conferences at its event center, while also having a museum with a huge collection of M I Hummel figurines. When it comes to finding budget accommodation in Rosemont, there are some options available, with the Best Western at O’Hare regularly having rooms available for under $100 per night.

Fort Wayne

Built at the junction of three rivers, this Indiana city has always been a meeting point both in terms of the early traders who brought their wares here, and, culturally, where the French, English and American cultures met. This is certainly reflected in the attractive local architecture. There are many budget options if you are staying in the Fort Wayne, with the Rodeway Inn and the Wayne Motel offering rooms from $50.

169050828_55ceef2deb_z

Photo via FLIKR by Tu

Grand Forks

This lovely little city that lies in the north east of North Dakota is best known for its sporting teams, with the Ralph Englestad Arena being home to the Fighting Sioux hockey team of the University of North Dakota, which has been said is among the best sporting venues in the country. There are plenty of budget hotels in Grand Forks, with several offering rooms under $50 per night, including Grand Forks Inn & Suites and Americas Best Value Inn – Grand Forks.

Cleveland

Lying on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a vibrant and modern city that is famous for being passionate about sports and boasting several great sports teams, while also having some lovely museums and plenty of green parks too. As a larger city, the hotels can be a little more expensive, but Cleveland’s budget accommodation options can also include the Airbnb listings which can be searched at the same time through the Hipmunk Hotels website.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy an excellent vacation in the United States. Look up some of these destinations to find budget-friendly accommodations for the whole family.

Save