Now that I am leaving Rome, I’m reflecting on the things I will miss. Despite the crowds (hordes arrive in June), I will miss some of the really picture perfect places in Rome. It makes it easy to show tourists around.
As my time living in Rome draws to a close, I decided to travel to see other parts of the former Roman empire. One such place was just across the water in Budva, Montenegro. Budva was part of ancient Greece and it became part of the Roman empire in 200 BCE (150 years before Caesar, 200 years before Jesus).
If you want to avoid the crowds of Dubrovnik, visit Budva in the off season. I recommend staying at La Villa boutique hotel. Be silly and enjoy yourself making your own Game of Thrones video clips. Even if you have never seen GOT, Budva will charm you.
The old town of Budva is a walled medieval city sitting on a peninsula in the harbor of Budva. It’s a tiny walled town with paved streets that match the same taupe stone buildings. Most of what one can see today in the old walled town of Budva was build in the 15th century CE (500 years ago).
Montenegro is part of the European Union. If you enter by land from Albania, the border crossing may take you over an hour. Once we got on the road, Budva was only a couple of hours away (if you land in Albania), mainly because there is a stretch of road that is not highway. One gets a nice “local” route, bumping through neighborhoods and increasingly beautiful views. It all seems like potential for commercialism. Budva seems to be all resort hotels and construction, which contrasts so nicely with the old walled town. The staff at La Villa gave us good advice to park in the public parking and pay for a day pass (minimum is two day pass at 20 Euro) because otherwise the rate is per hour!
On your way in or out, visit the other towns of Sveti Stefan and Bar. Sveti Stefan is another tiny jewel of a town. It was bought by a private resort so no longer open to the public during tourist season. Can you imagine?
If you want to binge on watching videos about Italy, here are some I’ve found. Mostly on food. Mostly about Rome. I will not list all of them as there are too many, but a few that will give you some leads to follow.
Rick Stein is one of my favorite TV chef presenters. The thinking chef’s chef. Here in Corsica and Sardinia.
Floyd was a chef who had a good time, this time in Liguria.
If you want months worth of binge watching, Rick Steves provides! Rick Steves has eight hours of free TV shows on Italy alone! He also has free audio tours, apps, books, etc. He is much raunchier on his audio tours! If you want a private guide in your ear, he has those! If you just want to watch him give good advice, watch him here.
*******Update: The location has changed! It’s now in the neighborhood of Quinta Camacho. Calle 69A, #10-05. *********
Yes, it’s a speakeasy, not illegal, but kept a secret like back in the days of prohibition. Yes, it has no name. Yes, it’s not well known yet…
The craft cocktails are good. That’s the important thing. The drinks have names like “J Bird” and “Shi-taque” and “Ayguey” (or something like that) and other cleverness. The drinks are gin or whiskey based with infusions and chartreuse as ingredients. They are refreshing, strong, and delicious. The bartender takes great care making the drinks as he mixes, shakes, squirts, dusts, and coddles the drinks (Plus, he has a magnificent beard).
It’s the kind of place where one can hear oneself, and ones friends talk (although it’s so dark you may not be able to see them) because the music is blues or other old school music played loud enough to enjoy but not so loud that you have to yell. The two booths have chains which activate a red light when you want to call for service (so you get to yank their chain). Fresh water is always served with the drinks to make sure that you won’t be hung over the next day.
The location has changed! It’s now in the neighborhood of Quinta Camacho. Calle 69A, #10-05. No longer secreted behind the Pan Asian food restaurant, Thom Ngon, on top of Xarcuteria near Parque 93. Go up the stairs and ring on the doorbell. Someone will open the little window (just like in the prohibition movies) and let you in. Maybe. The owner says that he wants this place to stay secret and hidden so that only those who like a good hand crafted drink will hear about this place by word of mouth. He says that he doesn’t want the meat market “seen scene” (my description) types here. We shall see.Unlike the other speakeasy, this place does not have food or snacks. Yet. Our waiter, Jesus, told us that snacks like peanuts or albondigas (meatballs) will be coming soon.
But no fish fillet sandwich… which some of us wanted… did I mention that the drinks are strong?