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Sampling it now is worth the odd long wait for dinner.The secret’s out on Mykonos, Santorini, and even Patmos—but on the lesser-known islands of Antiparos, Paros, and Pano Koufonisi, the beaches are unspoiled, the tavernas are rustic, and the pace of life is blissfully slow.
Alas: the main courses took more than two hours to arrive, by which time Daniel was fast asleep and our waiter was almost weeping with regret and frustration, while the large party of Russians at the next table were banging their glasses with their spoons to signal impatience.
Somehow, the experience seemed symbolic of Montenegro and its creaking infrastructure as a whole. On the other hand, in an age when most of Europe’s Mediterranean shores were long ago overrun by visitors, this country is still emerging, unformed.
Kotor itself, at the far end, is a small walled city, an ancient stone Venetian-Gothic labyrinth of shady alleys and sunny piazzas, most with pavement bars and restaurants.
One morning we rose at 6am to beat the heat and made the climb along the walls from the town to the citadel, 1,300ft above – a stunning, fortified eyrie with spectacular views of the city below and the mountains framing the gulf.
But there is much more to Montenegro than buckets and spades and snorkelling.
We spent our first week at Muo, a village deep inside the Montenegrin coast’s jewel – the Gulf of Kotor, a 15-mile-long fjord with white limestone walls that at their loftiest, beneath the summit of Mount Lovocen, are almost 6,000ft high.
On the other hand, to see the country properly, driving is pretty much the only feasible way for a family to get around.
Just make sure you have strong nerves and good insurance.
It looked delightful, perched on a cliff overlooking the end of the beach, with a lovely terrace and starched white tablecloths.