Monthly Archives: August 2016

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Autumn and Montenegro travel

Yellow, red and golden colors predominate in autumn, and why miss this magical time of year in Montenegro when it is perfect for experiencing adventure? The best time to travel is often said to be between September and November, and it is not different in Montenegro. The beautiful weather, the sunny days and the cool but still-mild evenings are perfect for 4×4 safaris, photo safaris, mountaineering or simply hiking the mountain trails, visiting cultural and historical sites with our tour guides or exploring bays and concealed beaches. Here you can bathe since the average temperature of the Adriatic Sea is still 23 °C in October. For visitors who want to spend their days in complete relaxation of body and soul, we can recommend one of the spa and wellness hotels offering a variety of treatments, massages, saunas, refreshing pools or relaxation in a whirlpool bath in beautiful mountain or seaside surroundings.

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What are the advantages to traveling to Montenegro in autumn?

Prices of flights and accommodation are lower.
Roads, cafes and restaurants are significantly less busy.
You can visit one of the numerous festivals and other cultural events in Montenegro.
You can tour several destinations, towns and visitor attractions when there are no crowds.
You can travel and spend time outside in light clothing, without the summer heat.
You can enjoy autumn foods and the fruits of the harvest.
You can best experience daily life and authentic local culture.

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Art Through Ages – Montenegro / Museum of Herceg-Novi

Pre-historical period to antiquity period – Boka region, Herceg Novi Montenegro

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In order to appreciate Montenegro’s artistic culture, one cannot refer merely to a few well-known monuments, rather, one should consider all works of art of this region and the circumstances in which they were produced and later discovered, to truly appreciate the tale of this place. At times, it is also important to consider allegorical documentation favored by the ancient Greeks when we speak about the art of this small region.

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Montenegro, is a small country, but the place has ‘old bones’ and it is one of the oldest regions known to early civilizations. If one thinks of its history, it is very difficult to define Montenegro’s geography in different historical periods since this very little region has been of interest of many imperialist powers though ages. Between many wars, Montenegro has been hit by natural disasters. As in neighboring Greece, earthquakes periodically destroyed many man maid objects of historical importance but there are still  many worth of mentioning.

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For example Locality of Malo Rose which dates from 6th to 10th century represents the beginning of the Christianity. From the church of the St. Toma in the village of Kuti and the churh in the village of Suscepan have been preserved stone decorative plastics, from 9th to 11th century, and altar stone partition – parapet plate.

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Most of Montenegro’s land is made up of Karst formations, but it is also rich in white marble, especially near places of the ancient Doclea. The second Roman manicipium is found here, which showed dedication and artistic spirit of the people that ones lived here since the grain of Montenegro’s marble is not fine and compact and it was very difficult to work with it die to its hardness, far greater that that of Pentelic or Carrera marbles that are somewhat soft and more approachable material.
For centuries, Montenegro was considered as a place that lacks material and modern riches, inaccessible for travelers, with a rigid terrain and very raw and untouched wild beauty. Its simplicity dates back in the ancient times, and has been maintained for generations and centuries. Testament to this are pure forms of several works (that people of northern villages still use) such as antique Cup with a handle and high cylindrical neck of backed clay, decorated with broad bands and orientation, displayed at the museum. This reminded me of my grandmother’s credenza full of very old backed clay dishes. However, this particular work of art found in the museum dates back to 2100-1900 B.C.

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Additionally two bowls, that have been discovered in the region, have small particles of metal, which introduces us already the next period – the early stages of the antiquity times. Objects such as small metal sharp harpoons and broken spears are seen on the dusty shelves of this tiny museum, and they have small faded Cyrillic writings below them. The alphabet itself is ancient, and even though Latin alphabet is commonly used in this region, many schools teach Cyrillic as a second alphabet to encourage new generations to stay true to its ancient roots.

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In Montenegro, the Neolithic Age, with all of its three phases such as lower, middle and upper phase, are represented by ceramic artifacts used for every day life. However, there are many more traces of Eneolithic cultures than of Neolithic ones, and this makes the evaluation of style and artistic trends more difficult.

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Some scholars believe that the decorations on Eneolithic bowls constitute of some sort of prehistoric sign system serving to identify particular races, each having their own group of symbols. One the other hand, some believe that these decorations form a part of figurative and and aesthetic language. One of the most important facts is that despite the small size of our country, one can forget to mention an enormous variety of folkloric traditions.

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The ethnological study of the dance, needlework, decorative art, costumes, jewelry, engravings, colors of the designs on terracotta bowls and, the local folk art of nearly every town, explains the large wave of migration from the north coast of the Black Sea (the Indo-European migration) which had tremendeous influence on this area. Although scientific proofs of many migrations are evident, sceentists are unable to identify a single Eneolithic “race” in Montenegro. On the basis of various facts and evidence found in the region, that there were several races. This is why historians still call Montenegro’s Eneolithic people by the generic name of “Indo-Europeans”. With that in mid, please refer to the following works of art which is a testimony of the first dwelling traces of human communities:

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One of those dwellings were discovered in the cave Vranjaj, under the peak Radostak near Herceg-Novi. They date from the Neolithic period (5000- 4000 BC).  More intensive populating became in Eneolith (2000 – 1700BC) and also during Bronze Age. The Bronze Age goblet with ornament from the cave Vranjaj. During the Bronze and Iron Age, burring under tumuluses was intensive – Glogovik, Vranjaj, and Djevojacke Grede.

In 1953, a home of Mirko Komnenic, is turned in the National Museum of Herceg-Novi.  It is a beautiful structure designed in the late-baroque style, and it was built in the late 18th century. Pseudo-baroque expansions and attached additions had altered the original appearance of the museum, making it look grand.

One of those dwellings were discovered in the cave Vranjaj, under the peak Radostak near Herceg-Novi. They date from the Neolithic period (5000- 4000 BC).  More intensive populating became in Eneolith (2000 – 1700BC) and also during Bronze Age. The Bronze Age goblet with ornament from the cave Vranjaj. During the Bronze and Iron Age, burring under tumuluses was intensive – Glogovik, Vranjaj, and Djevojacke Grede.

In 1953, a home of Mirko Komnenic, is turned in the National Museum of Herceg-Novi.  It is a beautiful structure designed in the late-baroque style, and it was built in the late 18th century. Pseudo-baroque expansions and attached additions had altered the original appearance of the museum, making it look grand.

One of those dwellings were discovered in the cave Vranjaj, under the peak Radostak near Herceg-Novi. They date from the Neolithic period (5000- 4000 BC).  More intensive populating became in Eneolith (2000 – 1700BC) and also during Bronze Age. The Bronze Age goblet with ornament from the cave Vranjaj. During the Bronze and Iron Age, burring under tumuluses was intensive – Glogovik, Vranjaj, and Djevojacke Grede.

In 1953, a home of Mirko Komnenic, is turned in the National Museum of Herceg-Novi.  It is a beautiful structure designed in the late-baroque style, and it was built in the late 18th century. Pseudo-baroque expansions and attached additions had altered the original appearance of the museum, making it look grand.

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Etched / engraved names with bayonets of the Russian soldiers, dating 1807 during the war with Napoleon, are decorating the authentic door on the ground floor. Later, this building gained the official title of the Regional Museum of Herceg Novi. Partial restorations of the museum occurred in 1979, 1994, 1996. and 2001.
In front of the Regional Museum there is an amazing Mediterranean and subtropical botanic garden, with more than a hundred selected plants, which are decorating park space of 1000 square meters. Many very exotic and extravagantly unique plants found its space here in this beautiful garden. Many kinds of palm trees, Agave plants, cactuses, aloes and many other plants grow in very unusual shapes and colors. During the blooming season, the blooms refine the ambiance. Here, we can find different sorts of climbing plants like Pitosporums, also the coastal Pine trees, Mimosas flower trees, Camellias, Magnolias and the fragrant and medicinal Mediterranean herbs.

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Mirko Komnenic donated his home as a foundation to the town of Herceg-Novi. In his Living Will and Testament, he wanted this building to be used in a form of town’s museum.
Mirko Komnenovic was active during the Balkan wars, he worked with propaganda and intelligence services against Austro-Hungary. Also, he was a prisoner of the Mamula Tower during the First World War. He was elected for the ambassador of Boka Kotorska in the National Parliament of the Monarchy of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in 1923. and 1925. Also , he held the president position of the community of Herceg-Novi in 1930. He became the Minister of Social Politics and the National Health in 1935.
He was honored with many medals. These are one of many: White Eagle with swords, St. Sava’s of the first and the third degree; Russian: St.Vladimir’s 4th class, St. Stanislav`s 5th class, St. Ana’s 2nd degree; with French Legion of Honor, and Czechoslovakian officer Revolutionaries` cross.
Another interesting fact that demonstrates how great this man really was is his wish that his entire earnings and proceeds should be donated to the local orphanage home to help the orphans of Herceg-Novi, regardless of their religion or ethnic background.
This Museum houses a historical, archaeological, ethnological and icon collection of art.

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Birdwatching in the Tivat Solila

An ornithology trail has been opened in the special Tivat Solila birdwatching sanctuary, with two bird hides.
The close proximity of the sea and the well-preserved geological features of this lagoon make it especially attractive for birds. The shallow saline water, abouding in marine life, and its silt bed rich in benthos, draw water birds to feed, overwinter and stop off during autumn and spring migrations. 47 water bird species have been recorded at Solila, of which 4 species are permanent residents, around 35 overwinter there and 6 probably nest there. Including other bird groups – songbirds, birds of prey and others – 111 species have been recorded at Solila to date. However, this list is by no means complete, since every year several species new to that habitat are registered.
To date 526 bird species have been recorded in Europe, which means that the number of bird species present in this lagoon comprise more than 20% of the European total, which is no small amount.
Of special importance are at least 11 species from Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, as well as a number of internationally endangered bird species, such as for example the pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus).

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Special plant and animal reserve

Because of its importance for the survival of plant life otherwise rarely found along the 800km eastern Adriatic coast, and as a habitat for numerous threatened species of amphibians, reptiles and birds, in 2007 Solila was placed under protection as a special plant and animal reserve, the first of its kind on the Montenegrin coast and the first protected area of any kind on the coast since 1968, when a large number of beaches were put on the list.
Solila is an Emerald site under the Bern Convention and an IBA (Important Bird Area) in Montenegro.

Help the birds

Artificial nests (bird-houses) are primarily occupied by birds that nest in hollows, in trees or rock crevices. The best way to protect these birds is by preserving as many natural hollows as possible – and if not we can provide man-made ones. This is a good way to attract a great many birds into our orchards and gardens where we can easily watch their everyday activity.
Winter is a time of selection, when only the toughest survive. All of the birds that overwinter in our region are adapted to frost and the cold. Opinion is divided as to whether birds should be fed in winter or not. In a preserved, natural environment, in which birds can easily find food for themselves, supplementary feeding is unnecessary in biological and conservation terms. In environments in which natural food sources are lacking (for example in artificial environments, populated areas etc.), supplementary feeding of birds is worth considering. Feeding stations need only be used while snow is on the ground. Seeds needs to be kept dry and grain trays kept clean. Water, bread and salted food should not be given. The most suitable foods are sunflower seeds, oats, corn and other grains.
During dry times of year it is more important to provide birds with drinking stations than with food. Water can be supplied in purpose-made containers or any other kind of shallow dish. Care should be taken that water containers are not too deep.

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5 Destinations That you Should not Miss in Montenegro

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1. Perast – a unique town, guarded by UNESCO and by the affection of all those who have spent time there. It is thought to be the oldest human settlement in the Bay of Kotor – the remains of a Neolithic culture (3500 BC) and archaeological finds are evidence that the site where the town stands has been settled since Illyrian, Roman and early Christian times, right up to the present day. Perast is best depicted by its numerous important buildings – fortresses, churches, residences and museums testify to the turbulent history of this region, and to the rule here of Napoleon, the French, the Austrians and other conquering nations. Two small islands, called Our Lady of Škrpelj and Saint George’s, face Perast in the bay, lending the town a special charm and authenticity.

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2. Mirišta and Plava Špilja – the former, an island close to Herceg Novi, on which the 14th-century Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God monastery is situated (some even say it dates from the 11th century), the latter the “Blue Cave”, a unique natural feature on the Luštica peninsula. Two exceptional tourist attractions of this town which are well worth visiting. The entrance to the Blue Cave is guarded by cliffs reaching up to 40 metres above sea level. The deep blue emanating from the waters in the cave leaves visitors speechless.

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3. Porto Montenegro Tivat – the most luxurious marina in the Adriatic. It has been built to receive mega yachts but also smaller sailing boats. This modern tourist complex was built to the highest architectural and engineering standards, whilst retaining Mediterranean charm and warmth. The marina is designed to provide fun and relaxation, with everything you could ever need all in one place, from numerous international restaurants, cafes, organic food shops, clothes shops offering top international fashions, pools, galleries and museums – everything you need for a quality holiday. The combination of quality service and the magical setting will afford you an experience that rivals any of the elite European tourist centres.

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4. Sveti Stefan – the islet and the town sitting atop it. Once a fishing village situated on a rock just off the shore, connected to it by a narrow isthmus, in the seventies and eighties Sveti Stefan (Saint Stefan) became a famous resort for the world’s rich and famous. Famous actors, artists, kings and princes from all over the world have come to holiday in this magical seaside village, including, notably, Sophia Loren, who has been a frequent guest.

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5. Biogradska Gora National Park
Between the rivers Lim and Tara, in the middle of the Bjelasica mountain range, is the Biogradska Gora National Park, and within it, one of the last three European old-growth forests.This area has been protected since 1878, when it was encompassed by the so-called King’s Reserve – a gift to the then-king, Nikola. In the very heart of the forest, at 1094m above sea-level, is the Biogradsko Jezero lake. Its unique turquoise colour comes from the dense forest reflected in its waters. The woods are home to 86 tree species, many of them protected (incidentally, the Biogradska Gora National Park harbors 20% of all species endemic to the Balkan Peninsula). Nature-lovers can enjoy walksamong spruce, firs, beech, elm, oak and linden, while bird-watchers will want to look out for eagles and kites in flight. Large mammals include deer, chamois, bears and wolves. No less than 80 species of butterfly can be seen here too – 40% of all the species present in Montenegro.

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How to Visit Cuba on a Budget

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

Now that Cuba’s tourism industry is up and running, we’re doing everything we can to educate our readers about how to make the most of their Cuban vacations. From knowing which cities to visit to learning how the country has changed and prepping for your trip, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re ready to visit but worried about finances, we’ve still got your back. Simply implement the following strategies in order to enjoy a budget-friendly trip to Cuba.

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It helps to know Spanish.

Overwhelmingly, travelers to Cuba report that you’ll be more accepted if you speak Spanish—and that means you’re more likely to be offered lower prices and to haggle successfully. Even if you don’t have time to become fluent before your visit, learning a few key Spanish phrases will surely make the trip a little easier.

Don’t withdraw or exchange cash in Cuba.

Cuba currently uses two types of currency: the CUC, which is designated primarily for tourists, and the CUP (the peso national), which is civilians’ primary currency. (The government has announced plans to eliminate the dual currency system, but has yet to do so.) For the most part, tourists will be dealing in CUCs, but budget-friendly travelers may want to keep a few CUPs on hand (more on that later). In either case, it’s smart to exchange your money before arriving in Cuba—otherwise you’ll incur a 10% penalty to exchange dollars to CUCs. Similarly, avoid using credit cards whenever possible, as fees are quite steep.

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Plan for exit and entry.

You’ll be charged $25 CUC to enter Cuba, and another $25 CUC when you fly out of the airport. Go ahead and set aside $50 CUC before your trip so you aren’t caught by surprise on the way in or out of the country. While you’re at it, set aside another $20-$25 CUC for the taxi ride from the airport.

Take advantage of cheap eats.

Want to save money on food? Then seek out local establishments that operate on pesos (namely, street food vendors and peso restaurants). This can be a serious money saver—think the difference between paying $0.80 or $8.00 for a sandwich. If you’re staying in a casa particular (aka a private homestay), this is also a good place to eat cheaply—meals tend to be huge (meaning you can split one dish between two people) and less expensive than meals at touristy restaurants. Or hit up hotel buffets for a meal that will fill you up for around $8 CUC.

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Pack your own snacks and toiletries.

Basic toiletries and medical supplies—think sunscreen, Aspirin, and contact lens solution—are either very expensive or totally unavailable in Cuba, so don’t assume that you can pick up supplies once you’ve arrived. Instead, bring along any toiletries that you can’t go without. Same goes for your favorite snack foods.

Get mobile like a local.

Cuba has designated tourist buses, and (not surprisingly) they can  be a bit of a money trap. You’ll save on transportation by taking public buses, camiones (i.e open-backed trucks), or shared taxis. As an added bonus, local transportation tends to operate on a more flexible timetable than the tourist buses.

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Entertain thyself.

Cuba has a vibrant nightlife scene, and you can drink for change if you stick to local establishments. (A good rule of thumb: Avoid any club that charges an entrance fee.) If you’re not sure where to go, ask your casa hosts or local street vendors for suggestions. If the club scene isn’t your thing, you can still find cheap entertainment in the form of museums, which typically charge only $1-2 CUC for entry. Just be aware that many museums charge an additional fee for anyone who wants to take photos.

While Cuba may not be the cheapest destination around, there are plenty of deals to be had for the frugal traveler. Just remember: When in doubt, act like a local.

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Roman mosaics and 2nd-3rd century Villa Urbana in Risan

The rapid Romanisation of Risinium began after the subjugation of the Illyrians under King Gentius in 167 BC. Risinium became a typical Roman town, surrounded by walls, with a town centre – a forum in the Carina fields. Ancient tombs – necropolises – were located outside the walls, and in the southern side of town there was a residential area containing the villas of rich Risan landowners and traders. The remains of the eastern portion of a Roman urban villa were found in the early 20th century. Between 1956 and 1962 the mosaic flooring in four rooms of the villa was fully restored and conserved, and the first protective awning built. Another mosaic floor was discovered in 1972, on which conservation work was also done and a roof added.

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Partial restoration and conservation of all the walls of the villa around the central yard – the atrium – was also carried out.
Roman mosaics decorate the floors of four of the five rooms in the eastern part of the villa, as well as two rooms in the western part. There are only traces of mosaic flooring in the remaining rooms. The technique used was one of large cubes of local grey and black stone, with motifs of the labrys – a double-bitted battleaxe originating from Crete. In the eastern wing of the villa a mosaic was laid displaying plant motifs, using stone cubes of varying size and colour (red, yellow, green, blue, black and white). In the middle there is a circular medallion depicting the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos, in the form of a winged boy leaning on the head of the bed. It is likely that this room was the bedroom of the villa’s owner – the dormitorium. Geometric chessboard-like patterns decorate the mosaic floor of the southern room, and beyond that there are a further two rooms with mosaics featuring geometric motifs and stylised sea life (cuttlefish and squid). It is thought that one of the corner rooms that do not have mosaics was the dining room (triclinium), with typical Roman couches.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In 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.

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Autumn and Montenegro travel

Yellow, red and golden colors predominate in autumn, and why miss this magical time of year in Montenegro when it is perfect for experiencing adventure? The best time to travel is often said to be between September and November, and it is not different in Montenegro. The beautiful weather, the sunny days and the cool but still-mild evenings are perfect for 4×4 safaris, photo safaris, mountaineering or simply hiking the mountain trails, visiting cultural and historical sites with our tour guides or exploring bays and concealed beaches. Here you can bathe since the average temperature of the Adriatic Sea is still 23 °C in October. For visitors who want to spend their days in complete relaxation of body and soul, we can recommend one of the spa and wellness hotels offering a variety of treatments, massages, saunas, refreshing pools or relaxation in a whirlpool bath in beautiful mountain or seaside surroundings.

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What are the advantages to traveling to Montenegro in autumn?

Prices of flights and accommodation are lower.
Roads, cafes and restaurants are significantly less busy.
You can visit one of the numerous festivals and other cultural events in Montenegro.
You can tour several destinations, towns and visitor attractions when there are no crowds.
You can travel and spend time outside in light clothing, without the summer heat.
You can enjoy autumn foods and the fruits of the harvest.
You can best experience daily life and authentic local culture.

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