Thursday, September 22, 2011
It rained in Budva. After almost a week of sweltering weather on my Balkans trip, I traveled to Budva, Montenegro on a 25-minute bus ride from Kotor, and found myself under stormy skies. I didn’t want the clouds to spoil my visit to the famous walled town on the Adriatic Sea, though. With a positive attitude, I hopped into a taxi and headed to the historic city center.
My first stop was the Avala Resort, a huge luxury hotel in Budva that was located right at the entrance to the old town. The Avala had offered me a complimentary massage in their spa and a lunch at their new restaurant, BRUNO. I was excited for my visit.
Upon arrival, I went to the Energy Clinic spa, a large complex on the ground floor. It was complete with a huge gym with brand new equipment, saunas, a steam room, an indoor pool, and hot tubs. There was also an outdoor pool that rested right above the sea and had stunning views of the historic ramparts.
In the back were several spa treatment rooms. I spent a relaxing hour in one of them as my massage therapist worked out all of the soreness from my climb up the mountain in Kotor the previous day. The treatment combined traditional massage and stretching, and I felt great when it was finished.
After the massage, I went upstairs to a lounge area with welcoming white pillows and more beautiful sea views. There I had a drink with the PR executive, Marianna, who told me about the recently-renovated hotel and its sister property in the mountains.
She also took me on a tour of several suites, one of which was by far the largest hotel room I have ever seen. Set over two floors and decorated in cool minimalist style, it had two massive bedrooms, a living room that was bigger than any flat I have ever lived in, several bathrooms, a study, two huge balconies, and a film screening room. It was so big that it was almost too big. I was in awe.
After the tour, I sat down for lunch at the restaurant. The interior was fashioned by the person that had designed Miami‘s Nikki Beach, and had a great mix of funky furniture, cool chandeliers, and the same stunning sea views as the rest of the property.
After devouring a basket of delicious fresh-from-the-oven bread, I started with a salad of prawns, fennel, mango, and avocado. It was a nice mix of flavors and was large enough to be a main course.
From the salad I moved on to the sea bass with potatoes. The fish was fresh and plentiful. For dessert I chose the panna cotta. Silky smooth, it was absolutely divine. Throughout each course, I enjoyed crisp white Posip wine from Korcula in Croatia.
After lunch I was in serious need of a walk to burn off the calories. Thankfully the torrential rains and hurricane-like winds that had plagued Budva throughout my lunch stopped just as I finished my meal.
I ventured out into the old town, walking through narrow streets packed with shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes. The area reminded me a lot of both Kotor and Dubrovnik, but much smaller and more intimate.
One street I walked down suddenly opened up into a large square. In it was a beautiful Orthodox church that had amazing interior frescoes and two beautiful mosaics above the exterior doors. Also in the square was a museum and a big cafe with outdoor tables everywhere. It was a beautiful scene.
Outside the city walls, I continued my Budva travels with a walk along the waterfront. The area beyond the old town was much more developed than that of nearby Kotor, and all along the water were beach bars and restaurants. Some of them had serious themes, such as the Trocadero, with its giant Eiffel Tower replica.
The wind had knocked down most of the tables and umbrellas along the beach, so the bars looked a bit worse for the wear. But soon everything was set up again, and they grew busy throughout the early evening.
As most visitors to Budva were getting ready to party, I was getting ready to go back to the spa. I spent an hour there enjoying the sauna, steam room, and private jacuzzi room. Just as I went to take a dip in the outdoor pool, the sun finally came out and bathed the city walls in a beautiful pink-orange light.
Eventually I had to tear myself away from the sunset and leave the spa behind. I checked into my hotel, which was located along the waterfront near the beach bars. As I drifted off to sleep that night, I was glad to have had a busy day of traveling in Budva, and thankful that the rain didn’t stop me from enjoying my final day in Montenegro.