A part of our West Balkan Tour: Montenegro, continued. If you haven’t already, read Part 1 here.
Wow. Probably one of our favourite nights in Montenegro. Went out for a nightcap, came home with 4 slices of pizza and a 160 year old lemon.
Beach outside the castle
Now Budva didn’t come highly recommended from our Perast boat friend, Stefano but he was off about not recommending Hotel Admiral (top ten dinner for sure) so we kept an open mind. It was only 45 minutes from Perast to Budva and we got lucky with simple parking at our Air BnB. We dropped our stuff off and agreed we’d earned a night cap after our courageous day. We could see the ocean form our place, so we headed out and wandered for about 10 minutes, heading toward the waterfront. We had no idea where we were going. We just felt for some reason like there would be fun stuff going on by the water.
Canalien Kids ont eh Budva Strip
As we drew closer, a carnival environment opened up. We were not prepared to wander out into the Jersey Shore of Montenegro! Bright lights, loud noise, the smell of street meat engulfed us. Heaven. There were rides, ferris wheels, games, lights, people laughing and dancing everywhere. It was awesome.
Biker Bar in the daytime
Apparently we were proud of our €4 bill for two beers and a double vodka at the Biker Bar
We wandered a bit further, just following the strip and ended up in the castle walls. We stopped at a biker bar with live music. We grabbed our first few beers here as we soaked in the Montenegrin ballads being belted from the cachectic duo at the mic. We then wandered further down the strip, which led to an old square by the water overlooking the castle. Right up against the castle walls was El Mundo.
Koy with the jazz band at El Mundo
It was filled with a live jazz octet, and balling kids in their 20s, early 30s who’d ventured in off the dozens of yachts anchored metres away. The cocktail menu was pricey, but we stuck to the €2 beers and the bartender hooked us up with bowls of peanuts. The music was unreal, I didn’t want to leave, but we had a castle to explore.
Looking at the harbour from El Mundo in the morning
We continued on with our bar hop. In through the medieval city within the castle walls we went. There was a gypsy family who seemed to be following the same bar hop route as us. The young daughter would scurry up to paid tables and beat the servers to snipe the leftover tips off of them. At the next spot, her brothers ran up to us and danced around us, and then asked for change. (These were the only beggars we saw the entire trip). We felt like we were teleported to the 1800s, until we walked by JEF Bar, that is. Completely rammed with people, so crowded you couldn’t even move. It was basically a rave in the middle of an old town square. Maybe we just weren’t lit enough but I couldn’t handle the bass and the polos and the cologne. It was like a Euro-Hollister.
At Casper Bar. This beer was AWESOME.
We continued on and heard people singing to an upbeat piano up some stairs. This was where we found La Citadela. We had a few drinks here, and sang some songs. The server even sat with us to talk about the war. Although it was the perfect environment, we decided to press our luck again and see what else we could find. (We’d return to here for brunch the next day anyway). After La Citadela, we found Casper Bar. THIS place was beautiful. We were chatting up the bartender when two other patrons, quite drunk and quite passionate Serbian patriots started singing over us. The bartender rolled his eyes and let it go but they kept on. Turns out they were singing some pro-war, anti-Bosnian and anti-Croatian chants. We couldn’t understand but people around us were throwing them shade. Our bartender asked them to stop, and offered them a shot as a compromise. Koy and I took one back with these two guys. Then the one guy gagged and ran to the bathroom to throw up and came back with his pants undone. Stunning.
Of course I got a photo with the man
The whole night we just followed our ears. Behind each nook and cranny there were restaurants, each with a unique musical performer. It felt like a mirage. Because everyone loves lists, here's a run down of our favourite spots:
Biker Bar: I’m not even sure the name but it was filled with cheap beers and happy people clinking pints and singing along. Cheap drinks, great people.
El Mundo: You can’t miss it. Right at the entrance to the castle walls in the square where the Old Town meets the strip. These were my notes from our time here: Live Jazz, cigarettes, peanuts, yachters and ‘nachters’ (wannabes, yacht-diggers [I’m pretty clever after a few, eh])
La Citadela: Through the maze of castle walls, overlooking the beach. We had a blast singing along with the band to Sinead O’Connor and bantering with our server at this Mexican themed spot. We even took his recommendation to return for brunch the next day. Again, awesome live band and a beauty view that we’d totally overlooked the night prior. Plus they made a mean latte behind the bar!
Casper Bar: I loved this place. Again, we followed our ears and at the end of this dead end alley found Casper Bar with it’s big 160 year old lemon tree growing out of the centre. Turns out I had a mutual friend with our bartender through Sigma Chi. His name was Fikus and he let us take some of lemons from the big ol’ lemon tree home! (you bet your ass we took tequila shots later with those lemons).
JEF Bar: Some intense DJ club where we weren’t allowed to order a drink because we didn’t have a booth. I actually think they only served bottles. We still had a sketchy car to drive in the AM so, that was a no.
After our dreamy medieval pub crawl, we sauntered back home. Whether or not we stopped at two separate pizza places on the way back isn’t important. But, come on $2 a slice – how could you pass that up!? #back2back
Lattes at La Citadela
We wandered around before and after brunch at La Citadela the next day. We stopped at a sweet beach against the side of the castle and then hit the road again, heading to Sveti Stefan.
Our return to La Citadela for brunch
From the carnival to the live music to the historic atmosphere, unique bars and after hours pizza joints – Budva is one hell of a place to visit. I see where our boat friend Stefano was coming from, though. As a local, it would definitely be considered touristy. But for us, there was more than enough history, culture and views to make up for the ‘Jersey Shore vibes’.
The Love Affair Collection stems from a personal Tale of Two Cities. Mainly because it involves a character named Sydney, a couple cities and tbh it rly was "the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness".
I made this collection for other Canaliens who may have left part of themselves in another city, too. I feel ya! Be proud of your nomad-icity.