It's got lush scenery, hilarious locals and delicious food. Discover Montenegro with our winners.
The World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship 2017 in Montenegro is what happened. But like a study of the French Revolution, it will probably take quite some time for us to understand the ramifications of what went down.
Shhh. It’s one of those places you don’t want to tell anybody about. Ask Google where it is.
Um - why isn’t it jam-packed with people and why hasn’t it been turned into another tourist ghetto plundered by the easy Jet Armada? It’s complicated. We sat there scratching our heads and then got on with the job at hand, but let’s just say, seeing this place and hanging out with the locals, it was like finding a penguin in the middle of the desert.
That’s where our buddies at Black Mountain and the Western Balkans Geotourism Network come in. Jack and Haley are the Swiss army knife of adventure tourism in the area. They are the kind of people that will kayak you to a crumbling fort on an island just off the Lustica Peninsula, then steal the kayaks and let you fend for yourself for a few days.
Want to drive through ocean facing cliff scenes out of a James Bond flick, only to find yourself beaten to the top of a stunning vista by an old Montenegrin in a rusted out 83 Yugo? The Black Mountain guys will hook you up. In fact, book a tour with them, anything and everything will probably happen. You might learn about the thousands of varieties of medicinal herbs in the area. You could end up in winter for a bit of cross country skiing and be put up in some Cold War era hotel with faded pink wallpaper, ashtrays on the vinyl table cloth and a stuffed deer head that was shot when Tito was a tot. You might end up hanging out with the local 104 year old lady Baba Yelka as she tends to her goats. You might as we did, find yourself at the stroke of midnight on a boat bobbing in a Yugoslavian era submarine bunker as 2 local chefs ply you with the local firewater and teach you to party like Montenegrin madmen.
The scenery is so mind-bending, words could sell it short but since this is our Travel Writing Scholarship and not our Travel Photography Scholarship, come back and read what our writing scholarship winners have to say about it. They will be able to do a better job than this chicken scratching of an intro. In the meantime, check out our video below.
Steep mountains overlooking pristine bays? Check. Empty panoramas dotted with crumbling monasteries? Check. UNESCO listed treasures adjacent crumbling Communist hotels? Check. Harbors that to the untrained eye look deserted? Check. Water so clear that dolphins rate it 5 stars on TripAdvisor? Check. But don’t take our word for it. If you are headed anywhere in the area like Dubrovnik, do yourself a favor and take a relatively easy detour.
Meet the people we did. Think with your stomach - if you are from a big city, get off the Soylent Green for a few weeks and let your taste buds come back to life with the local chow. Got issues with food? Don’t worry, Haley is the MMA of tour booking, once putting together a package for a group consisting of 1 x GF, 2 x Pescatarian, 1 x Vegan, 1 x Raw Foodist, 1 x Paleo & 2 Diabetics. Just kidding. Anything can be arranged, but your Balkan trip will definitely be enhanced by becoming even temporarily omnivorous. Like in a lot of places, if you are a vegetarian, they will probably just offer you chicken or fish. Laugh and roll with it, or get in touch with Mickey from Portifino in Stari Grad – he is your vegetarian contact in the country.
As the locals say “An earthquake every 100 years, a war every 50 years - check your calendar…” Right now, it’s pretty good. In actual fact, it’s probably safer than a lot of places. For more information, ask the guys at Black Mountain. At the end of the day, be cool to people, respect the fact that some heavy shit has gone down in recent history and that the area is very intricate in terms of language, religious practice, ethnicity and lifestyle. Want to know more? Check out our Travel Writing Mentor Tim’s recommendation: “Balkan Ghosts” as a primer to the region.
Enough with the sales pitch, on with the show. The players were:
Adventure mutant. Foreign correspondent. Ski bum. Polyglot, Notebook maker. Water piping with locals in Kurdistan. Stories of ski resorts in North Korea. Baltic city correspondence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Carpenter of quality travel journalism. Fan of high SPF sunscreen. Omnivore. Black belt power-napper. Tim has been at it a long time. NY Times. Outside magazine. ‘Nuff said.
Travel Writing Scholarship Winner: Helen
Kiwi work boots. Tramper. Road tripper. Volunteer worker. Kayaker. Mountain biker. Can balance on the bow of boat to get good shots.
Travel Writing Scholarship Winner: Kaushal
Considered. ExOfficio clotheshorse. Refined storyteller. Vegetarian. Seemed to turn up in photos next to meat. Antique chair lover.
Travel Writing Scholarship Winner: Alex
Wanderluster. Photo note-taker. Kerouac nom de plume.Joy Division shirt. Remote wroker. Animal magnet. Sunscreen fan. Comfortable in Doc Martins or flip flops.
The Masterchefs of adventure & bespoke travel. Montenegrin locals think they are a bit wacked.
Twinkle in eye. Hunter of hilarity. Travel gag reel. Jack is the kind of guy you would book a tour with, go back sometime later with some cash and say “Jack, just surprise me”.
Polyglot. Treasure hunter. Hostess extraordinaire. Encyclopedia of Balkan phenomenon. Rolodex contains every contact from bird watching in Albania to the secrets of the Monastery of Ostrog.
Hayley & Jack can be contacted at:
If you are a World Nomad, traveling anywhere with your notepad and hunting for stories is always awesome – now imagine doing this in amazing Argentina with other Nomads whilst being taught by one of the best in the travel writing biz – Tim Neville. Whatever the calibre of your writing, a few days with Tim and the World Nomad’s team, your travel writing will evolve to the next level.
Through a series of adventure activities, theory and practical sessions, you will pick up the tools of the travel writing trade:
World Nomads needs great travel writers – we want you to go from great to awesome - Apply Now!