Signing up for Montenegro

We’d finally arrived in Montenegro and lost no time in locating Lazure Marina where we were hoping to organise a berth for our catamaran S/V Sunday during next European winter (from October 2023).

Arriving in Montenegro
Drawing close to Lazure Marina
Lazure Marina

Once we’d discovered the marina we looked for the car park that we had been directed to by the marina office via email.

We weren’t absolutely sure we were in the right place but as we don’t have one word of Montenegrin and the guy in the office couldn’t speak any English, we just couldn’t be sure. One thing we did gather though was that the car park belonged to a hotel.

Lazure marina was only a short walk away and we discovered that it was bang in front of the fabulous boutique hotel of the same name.

The wall of the Lazure hotel is on the right, the building on the left contains private appartments and additional hotel rooms

In its previous life the hotel building was an 18th Century Lazaret (a quarantine station for sailors and other maritime travellers.) Now it is beautifully renovated but still retains a link with the past as the original chapel of St. Rocco (inside the hotel building) has been restored to its original state and the rest of the interior is very sympathetically constructed to be in tune with the existing building.

The back of the hotel which in its previous life was an 18th Century Lazaret

We thought the funky interior design looked like a fusion between Italian and Scandinavian design but later discovered it was produced by a group of young Serbian interior designers.

The design of the hotel interior looked like an Italian/Scandinavia fusion
The hotel bar

The receptionists were most welcoming and helpful. They told us we were welcome to use the hotel’s car park for our camper van and invited us to have a look around the hotel and even shared the wifi password with us.

Lots of natural light in the bar
A courtyard for the warmer weather

We wandered into the dining room and had a very good chat with the Maître D’ who was equally friendly and hospitable.

The dining room

This was a good start!

A look round the marina revealed that it was small, with great security, clean waters and everything looking spick and span – perfect!

View of the marina from the hotel
The marina was small, with great security and clean, clear, waters

When we entered the marina office we had a wonderful surprise. The new owners of the marina had decided to make a special offer to the owners of the first ten catamarans to sign up for a winter contract. This involved their rate for seven months being the same as for a monohull of the same length! This represented an excellent saving on the fairly reasonable quote we had already received previously so we were thrilled.

The marina office is situated next to the hotel

The decision about whether to sign up at Lazure or another marina was therefore made on the spot although before signing a contract we decided to have a look around to see what the local area was like.

The pleasant water front
We liked what we saw despite the
threatening skies
Small hotels and restaurants on the waterfront near the marina

We found a beach close by, a great bakery and two supermarkets only a few metres away and were able to buy phone credit very easily and cheaply. There were also quite a few restaurants along the waterfront although they were mostly closed for winter.

We found a (pebbled) beach very close
to the marina
It’s this close to the hotel and marina!
There’s a good bakery nearby
The bakery sells lots of delicious breads and pastries

The weather was awful the following day – rain was tipping down with rain and there was a blustery wind. Nevertheless we decided to drive to Kotor, a medieval fortified town around the coast – just an hour’s drive away. While we were doing this we would try and check out other marinas en route.

The weather was awful the following day
Splash back as we drive through the enormous pools of water on the road

The weather was really terrible so we didn’t get out of the van to view any marinas but did ask for quotes via email and found the fees significantly more expensive than Lazure’s.

We didn’t look at any other marinas – it was just too wet!

Kotor looked really lovely but we didn’t fancy getting soaked so decided to leave exploring this fascinating fortified city until our return later in the year.

Kotor from the other side of the bay

We are so looking forward to taking a closer look at this lovely place as it is a UNESCO world heritage site and is full of Venetian medieval architecture resulting from four centuries of Venetian rule.

Travelling along the coast road on our way back to the Marina we saw two tiny islets just offshore. We found out later that these are called Sveti Đorđe and Gospa od Škrpijela.

Sveti Đorđe (left) and Gospa od Škrpijela

On Sveti Đorđe there is a 12th-century Benedictine monastery and a cemetery where local nobility have been buried over the centuries.

According to local legend, Gospa od Škrpijela was made over the centuries by local seamen who found an icon of Madonna and Child on a rock in the sea on 22 July 1452. On returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the same spot in the bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. The islet is still being widened every year by local people throwing rocks from their boats on the anniversary of the icon being found.

A closer shot of Gospa od Škrpijela

Back at the car park we were very tempted to rescue the beautiful “guard dog” who was confined to just a small run with a kennel. He was quite timid but very friendly and not at all like the ferocious guard dog he was meant to be.

Our friendly guard dog
He was very sweet and timid – not guard dog material at all

That evening we signed the contract with the marina and paid a deposit. We are very excited about the prospect of spending time here later on in the year.

We celebrated by going to the rather expensive but very swish wine bar called “Wine O’Clock”which overlooks the marina. We had a very delicious bottle of red wine on the balcony feeling very relieved that we were organised for winter so satisfactorily.

The local wine bar in the precincts of the hotel
Nice inside but the balcony overlooking the marina was the place to be
We sampled a very drinkable local wine

We left Montenegro the next day to start the journey to Calais where we were planning to catch a ferry to Dover in England for a long overdue visit too see members of our family who live there.

These trees reminded us of Tuscany

Just over the border (literally 40 minutes drive away from where we were staying) in Croatia, lies the lovely town of Dubrovnik which we decided to explore on our way through.

The lovely town of Dubrovnik

We decided to park well away from the old walled city near the port as narrow streets are an uncomfortable hazard for camper vans! The walk took us almost as long to do as the drive from our car park in Montenegro to the parking place in Dubrovnik.

The new port was quite a long walk from the old town

It was an interesting trek though and we walked past some wonderful historic houses and lovely views of the Adriatic.

One of the beautiful old mansions we walked past
A small chapel we saw on the way to the old city of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean and it’s easy to see why. The solid city walls, the outstanding medieval architecture and the fortified old town all combine to make it a charming place to visit.

The solid city walls of Dubrovnik
This shot was taken from just outside the city walls
The Pile Gate – the main entry into Dubrovnik old city

By the time we arrived it was lunchtime so we found a lovely restaurant (with checked tablecloths, one of Jonathan’s top criteria for a lunch spot) at the water’s edge and enjoyed a fabulous seafood lunch.

The restaurant had checked table cloths
This was very garlicky and delicious but the mussels were disappointing

Later we walked round a section of the city walls (you can walk the whole way round if you have time) and explored some of the graceful squares, narrow lanes and admired the shiny limestone paved Placa.

Walking off our lunch by the water
A traditional sailing boat beautifully renovated
A classic view of Dubrovnik
We are always drawn to where the boats are!
There were lots of picturesque narrow alleyways
The shiny limestone paved Placa dates back to 1468
The famous sheen on the limestone flagstones

We were very happy to see the ancient fountain at the entrance to the city which was still working and welcoming travellers to fill up their water bottles instead of buying more plastic bottles to add to the criminal amounts of plastic waste generated every year.

The Large Onofrio’s fountain (completed in 1438) is probably the best known of the city’s many historic monuments
Travellers are welcome to fill up their water bottles here instead of buying
more plastic bottles

In contrast, it was quite confronting to see bullet holes in some of the buildings which were inflicted on this stunning city during the 1991 Croatian War of Independence.

It was quite confronting to see bullet holes in some of the buildings
Also so sad to see this commemorative stone

Dubrovnik was besieged by the Yugoslav People’s Army for seven months and suffered significant damage from shelling but repair and restoration works in the 1990s and early 2000s brought the city back to its original beauty.

Repair and restoration works in the 1990s and early 2000s brought the city back
to its original beauty
Part of Dubrovnik Cathedral
It was hard to believe that this pearl of a city had been shelled so badly
Loved this view!
The 31 metre high bell tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city
Busy Loggia Square

By dusk we were on our way again – heading for our favourite camper stop – Autocamp Sirena where we experienced an incredibly wild and windy night, with waves crashing and trees bending under the strain.

By dusk we were on our way again
Lovely to watch the sun going down over the Croatian coast

Not the most restful of nights but we felt cosy and secure in our trusty home on wheels!

Wild weather at Autocamp Sirena

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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