Hear about travel to Montenegro as the Amateur Traveler talks to Gary Arndt from everything-everywhere.com about his recent trip to this beautiful mountainous country in the Balkans.
Gary says of Montenegro, “It’s a really interesting place. I recently spent 10 days there. I think it is going to be one of the next hot regions in Europe. I think the Balkans in general, is the next big thing because it’s very affordable, It’s opening up. Montenegro, in particular, of the non-EU Balkan countries has some of the best prospects.”
Montenegro is a small country. You can base yourself in one part of the country and visit the entire country with day trips.
The Bay of Kotor, including Budva, is the biggest tourist attraction in the country by far. “Kotor, if people aren’t aware of it, Is very similar to Dubrovnik. It’s on a natural day, probably the best bay in the Mediterranean. It’s a very popular cruise stop now. I went in February and it’s really the off-season. During the high season, it’s not uncommon to see multiple cruise ships in the harbor on one day.”
This area has a deep history. It used to be part of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Many of its coastal cities were built by the Venetians (like nearby Dubrovnik). There are Roman ruins, beautiful Eastern Orthodox monasteries as well as spectacular mountain scenery.
Gary starts us on the Bay of Kotor including heading up to take in the views of the bay from Lovcen National Park. The area is in transition with new resorts being built in Tivat and Budva. But Montenegro is still a country where you won’t find fast-food chain restaurants nor many international brand hotels. But that is probably going to change.
The Bay of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Montenegro also has two other sites which Gary visited: Durmitor National Park (also a popular ski area) and Ste?ci Medieval Tombstone Graveyards.
Gary visited the capital of Podgorica, including a visit to one of the largest vineyards in Europe which is a holdover from the days of communism’s central planning. He also tells us about the stunning mountain ravines in the northeast that connect Montenegro with Bosnia.
Montenegro is a country that you should visit and visit soon before everyone else discovers its beauty.
Travel to Montenegro – Episode 232
Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro) – Episode 524
Games of the Small States of Europe
Travel to Montenegro
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Lovcen National Park
Ostrvo (Island of Flowers) Monastery
Our Lady of the Rocks
Croatian War of Independence
Lake Skadar National park
Ste?ci Medieval Tombstone Graveyards
UNESCO Map Montenegro
Durmitor National Park
Pavlova Strana Viewpoint
Just listened! Great ep and made me want to go back! You left out the ruins at Ek Balam though (near Valladolid). Wonderful pyramid you can climb with amazing Mayan carvings, not crowded at all, and they have a cenote.
Jeff Ohlfs on Travel to Madagascar – Episode 599
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Been traveling myself. Another great episode but wanted to add a few things on Madagascar. I was there in 2012 and it appears the flights haven’t gotten any better. Arrived from Tanzania with a midnight flight and delayed 12 hours leaving Tana back to Nairobi. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world behind Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo. It was the favorite haunt of pirates like Captain Kidd. It’s been called “Noah’s Ark”. 80% of its fauna and flora is only found here. They’ve evolved in isolation since the island separated from Africa 60 million years ago. There are 102 species of lemurs. Wanted to mention the huge pill bugs the size of a baseball! And, one unique bird was the colored nightjar which is in the owl family and nests on the ground camouflaged in the dead leaves.
Don’t miss Tana which is built around 18 hills. Check out some of the old French influenced buildings like the Rova or Palace of the Queen, Andafiavaratra or Prime Minister’s Palace, the old court of Ambatondrafandrana. There’s a World War I Memorial to the Malagasy soldiers who fought on the side of the French. Tana’s Market is one the world’s most unique with its red tile roofs and open-air stalls selling all sorts of foods, spices, and anything else you would find at a Wal-Mart. The Museum of Ethnology and Paleontology is one of three in the world that has a preserved Coelacanth, a prehistoric fish thought extinct until one was discovered in 1938. Also in the museum is a rare skeleton of the largest ostrich in the world, Aepyornis or Elephant Ostrich, now extinct with its football sized egg which only lived on Madagascar. Next to the museum was Tsimbazaza, a zoological and botanical park. It had an endangered Radiated Tortoise found only in Northern Madagascar.
Visit the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga World Heritage Site. This was the palace and burial grounds for the royal family of Malagasy 1740-1897. It still serves as a public assembly grounds and for an annual zebu (cow) sacrifice. The Malagasy have a profound veneration for the dead. This is exhibited in the different regional styles of family tombs we saw.
92% of the country’s forests have been cut down for agricultural land. You see fields and terraced hillsides everywhere. There were only two paved national roads but despite being paved they are deteriorating. The average speed is 30 MPH. Every major city had police check points going into and out of the city looking for various permits and smuggled goods. We passed through a town south of Tana called Ambatolampy where they recycle aluminum into pots and pans. Further south is Ambositra known for its wood carvings including a totem pole like carving called an Aloalo. And further south in Ambohimahasoa, we had lunch here with a performance of Malagasy dance and music called “Mphira Gasy”.
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