Face to Face with Montenegro’s Hidden Beauties

Tripoto
31st Jul 2016

One of Southeast Europe’s best kept holiday secrets, Montenegro’s shore stretches along the Adriatic coast, ready to welcome wanderlust-plagued tourists with scenic sunsets and crystal-clear sea waters. Beach fun and thriving nightlife were the main reasons I decided to spend the summer vacation in this fascinating country; once I arrived in Kotor, though, I quickly realized that there is much more to Montenegro’s wild beauty than I originally bargained for. The lovely islet of Saint Stephen, Ostrog Monastery, and rafting on the Tara were the highlights of my visit to Montenegro, and they made me fall in love with this untamed land at first stay.

Saint Stephen Islet

Photo of Face to Face with Montenegro’s Hidden Beauties 1/1 by Melissa

Perched in the central part of Montenegro’s coastline to the southeast of Budva, the tiny islet of Saint Stephen is a living testament to the nation’s glorious history and culture. Founded in 1539, the fortification was ravaged during the 4th Ottoman-Venetian war and later rebuilt by Venetian Republic. It served as a refuge for pirates of the Adriatic, and it was also a defense frontier in the clashes with the Turks, but the fort’s modern face has no tears or blood drops on it. Today, the Aman Sveti Stefan resort has 58 rooms, cottages, and suites, each of them unique and dressed in fine leather upholstery, silk, and woolen rugs to go the original wall structure and traditional-style windows and doors. I loved dining out in The Piazza, and local dishes ignited a passion for the Mediterranean cuisine in my belly. For a mouthful of traditional cuisine, try the Taverna: I fell for their menu and amiable staff right away, and I promise you will, too.

The Divine Ostrog

Photo of Sveti Stefan, Montenegro by Melissa

Carved into the large rock of Ostroska Greda, the Monastery of Ostrog is a favorite pilgrimage destination for Orthodox believers, and I now clearly see why. Founded by Metropolitan Bishop Vasilije of Herzegovina in the 17th century, Ostrog underwent a large-scale renovation in 1923-1926 after a fire destroyed a huge part of the church complex. If you want to walk the path like true believers do, try climbing the 3-kilometer stretch from the Lower to the Upper Monastery barefoot – but if you’re just looking to spice up your summer holiday with a brief lesson on the country’s history and tradition, you don’t have to take such radical steps. The monastery has a rich folklore: legends about miraculous healings on the sacred patch of land are many and very convincing, so don’t be surprised if you experience a face-to-face encounter with divine forces during your visit to the monastery grounds.

Tara Rafting Spree

Photo of Ostrog, Podostrog, Montenegro by Melissa

Though I’m not a huge fan of adrenaline sports, the rafting trip on the Tara River made me think twice about the country’s holiday potential. Rushing down the rapids of the Montenegro’s river beauty inside a fragile boat, I realized why the Tarasport rafting guide said the experience is a life-changing one. Water-borne through virgin forests, I began to appreciate the immense power of Mother Nature, and the rafting adventure reminded me of human frailty in the face of the elements. I’d be up for another go at Tara’s whitewaters any day: you get wet, your heart rate goes wild, but the rafting spree over the rapids is definitely an experience you can never forget.

There’s more to Montenegro’s beauty than the commercials show: I for one was taken aback by the diversity and splendor of this amazing country, and I can promise it won’t disappoint you either. Bon voyage!

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