A while ago back in July my boyfriend Dave and I set out on our first adventure together abroad. The sole purpose of our trip was the Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro where we wanted to see some of our favourite DJ producers, but we also decided to spend a few days in Croatia after since it’s quite a long way to go for just a few days. Getting to the festival was an adventure in itself with a lot of travelling and many mishaps along the way. What started as an easy breezy holiday soon turned into a slight mess…
Our flight was quick and easy. As soon as we stepped off the plane a pleasant heatwave met us and I had that familiar initial feeling of excitement when you arrive on holiday in a warm country. However, the troubles started as soon as we got through security at Split airport where we found that there was no one waiting for us from the festival rep team as we had been expecting. Lots of waiting, walking around – so much that we walked past the same girls handing out leaflets at least ten times – and international phone calls to the festival office before we were approached by our transfer driver. He explained how we would have to wait four hours for others to arrive before he could take us all to Montenegro. Luckily he was really nice and took us to a nearby town where we had a few gin and tonics with another festival goer before getting on the minibus (yes, minibus) to take us to Budva.
The ride was quite tedious since we kept having to stop for the driver to take breaks and we couldn’t really see much as it was dark. We also had to cross the border at least three times due to the interesting layout of Croatia, which meant getting our passports out and handing them over to some scary looking border patrol guards. This was my first time in eastern Europe (other than Poland where I was born) and so I was surprised by how strict border crossings still are over there. I’m used to driving straight through with my family when we have been on holidays in France, Belgium, Italy and other Western European countries. After crossing over to Bosnia, which I’ll admit I was terrified about, we had a mini picnic stop and were pleasantly surprised by how normal and friendly it was. It just proves that stereotypes about countries are rarely accurate. And the service station we stopped in was so unbelievably clean.
By now I was feeling pretty at home and could relate to the people we came across, including our driver. They were polite but kept to themselves, which some of the British passengers on our transfer did not understand. I thought it was pretty ignorant of them to be making fun of the music the driver was playing, which was traditional Montenegrin and something we all should have welcomed as our first sample of the country we were going to be staying in for the next few days.
The journey was much longer than anticipated and we even had to take a ferry to cut out a large chunk of driving around the coast. It started getting light at this point and we still had a while to go. When we finally arrived, we were taken to the campsite of the festival and then had to take a taxi, which we shared with some friendly yet slightly odd Europeans.
Sleepy and slightly delirious after a night of travelling, we finally arrived in Budva only to be greeted by a grumpy reception man at our hotel. We initially thought that he had stayed up all night waiting for us which would explain his mood but after a couple of days we realised that people in Montenegro are not always the chirpiest bunch. Since Montenegro has yet to be exposed to tourism from English speakers, we came across a slight language barrier throughout our stay, starting from our arrival. It turned out that this grumpy man did not speak a word of English and had no idea who we were or even which room we were staying in! He kept repeating “soba”, which I assumed meant ‘person’, which is “osoba” in Polish. Turns out I was very wrong and “soba” in Serbian is actualy ‘room’… By this point we were so tired that I considered sleeping outside the hotel – all I wanted to do was lie down and close my eyes. Luckily I was able to use my first language and communicate with him in the little Polish he understood to be given our room key and finally be able to sleep.
As soon as we got into our room we collapsed on the bed and managed to get some decent sleep, ready for our first day there!