Archive for Kotor

Dec
31

My 10 Top Travel Photos of 2011

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2011 has again been a good year for me to discover wonderful new places in the world. Rather than bore you with a very brief and inadequate description, I thought I’d rely on the old saying of “a picture paints a thousand words” or rather in this case a photo. Here are my favourite photos I took during the last year.

Kronborg Castle

My first trip of the year was to the Danish capital of Copenhagen. I’ve been there many times and decided to head up the coast to Helsingor and the famous Kronborg Castle. It is said to be the setting for Shakespeare’s famous play “Hamlet”.

Kronborg Castle – One of Northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles

 

Sveti Stefan

I spent a couple of days on the Montenegro coast at Sveti Stefan overlooking this iconic iselt.

Sveti Stefan – Famous visitors here include Elizabeth Taylor and Sophie Loren.

 

Mandarin Fish

My first diving trip to Manado was extremely rewarding. On a night dive I managed to capture a couple of pictures of the elusive Mandarin Fish on a night dive.

The elusive Mandarin Fish on Bunaken Island, Manado, Indonesia

 

Queens Colours 1/24th Regiment

The Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 was the greatest defeat a British force ever suffered at the hands of a native army. On that fateful January day, the Queens Colours of 1/24th Regiment were lost in the Buffalo River. Two weeks later, against all odds they were recovered. Queen Victoria added a wreath of immortals around the crown as reminder of what happened to those colours at Isandlwana. Today, they are hanging in the Havard side chapel in Brecon Cathedral, Wales.

Queens COlours of 1/24th Regiment that were lost and later found after the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879.

 

Burning Bush / Fire Extinguisher

High in the Sinai Mountains in St Catherine’s Monastery. It is a hugely significant religious site and  this picture is of the Burning Bush. I found it slightly amusing that there is a fire extinguisher next to it…just in case.

In 2011, the Burning Bush is less of a safety risk that back in the days when it was described in the book of Exodus thanks to a fire extinguisher.

 

Soldier on guard, Hall of Valour

The Battle of Stalingrad was an horrendous fight to the death for hundreds of thousands of Russian and German soldiers. Today at the Hall of Valour at Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, there is a permanent guard.

A soldier stands guard in the Hall of Valour, Mamayev Kurgan, Volgograd

 

Petra through the Siq

The Siq at Petra is a long passage all visitors have to travel through to reach the famous Red City. As you approach the end, you get your first glimpse of the Treasury in Petra.

Nearing the end of the Siq and catching a first sight of the Treasury at Petra.

 

Kotor – cruise ship

The old walled town of Kotor in Montenegro is a popular cruise destination.

A cruise ship docked at Kotor, Montenegro

 

Pufferfish

This photo isn’t so much a favourite, I just want to highlight a problem (excuse the blurriness). When threatened, Pufferfish expand their bodies. Its a rare sight and is incredibly stressful for them. On this night dive in Aqaba, the guide annoyed this Pufferfish enough for it to puff out it’s body. I was really annoyed that someone meant to educate and protect the marine environment could do this. It was at a 5* PADI centre in a marine park.

This poor Pufferfish was annoyed by our dive guide and felt it had to expand it’s body to defend itself.

 

Ma’In Hotsprings

If you want to visit a fantastic spa resort in a stunning setting, the Ma’In Hotsprings 260m below sea level in Jordan will not disappoint.

The main waterfall at the fabulous Ma’In Hotsprings in Jordan.

 

I regularly update my Flickr account with my latest photos which you can find here:

http://www.flickr.com/bbmexplorer

Please feel free to add me as a contact.

Thats all from me for 2011, now I’m looking forward to 2012 which will take me to more new places and the Euro 2012 Championships in Ukraine.

Oct
15

Montenegro’s Stunning Coastline

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 As a teenager, I can remember holiday brochures advertising Yugoslavia as a beach destination. I always wondered what it was like. As a nation, Yugoslavia is long gone and today is divided into a number of different countries. One of the newest and smallest is also one of the most picturesque – Montenegro.

This tiny country is home to just over 600,000 people and the coastline of less than 180 miles. From north to south, there are 4 main towns; Kotor, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj connected by the winding coast road. Along the way, there are plenty of spectacular views as the route twists and turns high above the beautiful ocean. In addition to the 4 towns, there are a number of smaller settlements each with a charm of there own.

The most picturesque is Sveti Stefan with its iconic island. In the past, this historic little place has been visited by a host of celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Claudia Schiffer. This was my base for my visit although I didn’t see any celebrities. I stayed at the 4* Hotel Romanov in a room with a sea view. Breakfast was individually prepared rather than being a free for all buffet style with really added to the experience. At less then €70 a night, it was exceptional value.

 

The beach in the heart of Ulcinj

 

Working up from the south, the first main town is Ulcinj. The area is renowned for its long sandy beaches making it a popular tourist destination in the summer. The ‘Large Beach’ is 12km long and is the longest in Montenegro. At night, there are a number of cafes, bars and discos and for those looking for a bit of culture, the old town and medieval castle are very well preserved.

Heading north, the next town is Bar which is a little large that nearby Ulcinj. It is a place with a long history and the Old Olive of Mirovica, the world’s oldest Olive Tree grows here. With beaches, nightlife and historic buildings such as King Nicola’s Palace, Bar is another popular tourist destination. To the east of Bar is the Old Town which although has seen better days, it offers a fascinating insight into the history of the area. To the north of the town is on the only aqueduct in Montenegro. It has been restored to it’s former glory after being destroyed in an earthquake in 1979.

 

Part of the Old Town, Bar

 

The next 35km of the coastline are mainly small settlements and tourist destinations for those looking for a quieter time on the coast. It is on this section of the road where those heading for the capital, Podgorica will turn off and head inland through the new Tunel Sozina and past Lake Skador. However, my journey was along the coast and one of the many small towns in Petrovac. Set in a little bay, it is another place popular with tourists in the summer who flock to the beaches and cafes along the promenade during the day.

After leaving Petrovac and heading past my base at Sveti Stefan, we came to the ancient town of Budva. It can trace its roots back around 2,500 years and may well be the oldest settlement on the Adriatic coast. It is the tourism capital of Montenegro with over 300,000 visitors per year outnumbering the local population of 17,000. There is plenty for visitors to do here with beaches, bars, cafes, shops and the wonderful old town which was also badly damaged in the earthquake in 1979. It was a number of years before it was fully restored.

 

A cruise shipped docked at Kotor

 

Our last stop along the coast is the wonderful Bay of Kotor. There are a number of little towns around this impressive natural bay and it is the town of Kotor. It is a destination for cruise ships that dock in the spectacular settings of the surrounding mountains and the walls of the old town. Inside the walls of the old town are a maze of narrow streets with cafes where you can sit outside and watch the world go by.

I drove this in a day but to really do these wonderful towns justice, two or three days would allow you to explore without rushing around. Although the towns are relatively close together, the roads aren’t great so driving speeds are fairly low.

The airport in Podgorica is on the road to the coast and it will take around an hour to drive down to Sveti Stefan either through the tunnel or across the mountains.

 

Travel Details:

Flights from London Heathrow to Podgorica with Austrian Airlines via Vienna (http://tinyurl.com/austrianairlines-uk).

Hotel Romanov (4*) in Sveti Stefan booked with Expedia (http://holidaydestinations.at/bbmexplorer)

Car Hire booked with Delta Car in Montenegro (http://www.rentacar-delta.com)