Charming is not the first word that comes to mind as I sit here writing this in Budva on the Montenegrin coast. But, given time and a willingness to see the town, there are aspects of it that I find quite nice, which spurred Elia and I to spend a full three nights here. My association with the city started two weeks ago though in a strange way.
It was in Dubrovnik that I bumped in to some rather crusty New Zealanders. They immediately complained about the cleanliness of the pension we were staying in and admittedly it wasn’t a baka-cleaned (baka = grandmother in Croatian) place it wasn’t that bad and I could show them worse if they were interested. But, we put that aside and chatted to them about the package Balkan trip they were on. We looked down a sheet of their itinerary and asked them what they thought of Budva. They then said, “Oh yeah, Buhdva was nice.” I didn’t bother to correct their pronunciation as this is common problem with many English speakers in that we’ll continually pronounce something from a foreign language wrong even when corrected. I try to make the effort to say it the right way, but often fall short myself. But beyond that, we now will jokingly refer to Budva (really pronounce Bood-vah) as Buhdva.
So, I am enjoying Buhdva and marveling at how easy it is to get around. The beaches are in one spot. The crappy touristy promenade, where you can buy t-shirts that say things like, “THE MAN” is in another spot. The old city is in another spot. Then the bulk of rentable housing is in another spot. But, by “another spot”, I mean that they’re well separated in a manner where they don’t bleed on to one another. It’s more of a San Francisco tourist layout as opposed to a Santa Cruz layout. If you want to traipse around the old city, you won’t get someone trying to push you in to buying pirated DVD’s. When you want to sleep at night, you don’t hear the discotheque. And then, it seems like everything is a 15-20 minute walk from everything else. Naturally, there is a Fatty Train to drag around the lazy tourists who can’t make the walk.
We can thank the Communists for this. They developed the hell out of this place and they did a good job because well, that’s what Communism did well; deal with lots of people. It’s just a real pity to think that there was a nice vineyard in the spot where this whole tourist villa got erected called Slovenska Plaža and given the lovely size and quiet nature of the old city, it must have been an amazing site at the turn of the century.
As for highlights, I would have to say my top items are: the beach, the old city, and tourist watching. You really leave the English language behind once you come down here, so you get a taste of some pretty silly tourists from all over the place. The old men with the pot belly in the speedo, while revolting, never get old in their macabre display of far too much leathery, sunburned flesh.
In another two or three years, I’m sure this is going to get just as packed as other former Communist areas on the coast and a lot more expensive that the relative bargain it is now. This is especially true if the budget airlines open up flights to here. All hail the impending influx of the Lager Lad!