Ohmigod, I lost my phone!
When last we spoke some promises were made, there was also some foreshadowing. This is where I deliver! Day 2 of the festival. Over a period of approximately 24 hours we: left our hotel, found a new apartment, established a favorite restaurant (it was later dethroned and demoted to #2), got separated, hitchhiked, lost my phone, ate an entire pizza, realized I had no fucking clue as to the address of said new apartment, found my way home with the help of about 10 Montenegrins. I hope you’re sitting down…
I’ve mentioned our small but comfy apartment. The property is called Comfort Apartments. After our experience there I’d strongly suggest they shorten that to the more accurate Apartments. Apparently, the room they put us in was not the room we’d booked OR payed for! My travel companion (who arrived a couple hours after me due to a missed flight, thanks TSA!) discovered this while I was out to dinner and promptly asked to be moved to a bigger room. When the owners realized the room we’d originally booked was no longer available we agreed to a smaller room for a lower, to be later determined, rate.
The new room was a little bigger, though throughout our entire stay we had a really hard time getting towels, rides to the beach (the youngest brother is the resident “taxi”) or pretty much anything else we asked for. The apartments are a small family run business. The family home is at the back of the property. I later learned from a local waiter, Mirsa (he’ll resurface a couple times here), that the town’s main industry is tourism and this is the peak of the season. 90% of the town’s economy is generated during these few months. Our hotel was fully booked and the entire staff consisted of a family of 4. No wonder things were a disorganized mess! One night we actually happened upon the mom hanging laundry out to dry. Yes. I said hanging laundry out to dry. No wonder they’re so stingy with the towels! We were gonna be really upset if we found out she was washing everything by hand too!
When asking for more towels goes wrong: Clearly towels in this place were a hot commodity. The property managers are hanging laundry to dry by hand, running a fully booked establish AND have a pool complete with pool bar. They were doing WAY too much. We all should have known there was going to be a towel debacle at some point. It took a few good requests to get our first fresh set of towels (I use the word “fresh” pretty loosely here). At one point I was actually given 75% of a towel. Most of it was there, I can’t tell you what happened to the rest. I can tell you it definitely didn’t get lost in the dryer. We’re attending a music festival on the beach. There’s a lot of sand involved. Also, we’re in a land without washcloths. We need towels!! Later the same day the power went out for several hours. The wifi quickly followed. I don’t know what your philosophy is when it comes to wifi but the internet and I are pretty good friends. Wifi is a human right, just ask Canada! As those of you who’ve traveled with me before know, lack of wifi is a total deal breaker for me. At that point I’d already begun plotting our escape.
For our second night we were able to wrangle our young chauffeur for a ride once again. Before we were dropped off to the festival for the evening he informed us that we needed to settle our bill for the previous rides. No problem. We ask our total for the last 3 rides. It came to a whopping €50!! Mind you, one of the rides was to the grocery store. Across the street! We’re getting hustled by the kid brother! I tell him we’ll pay the €50 if he comes back to pick us up at the end of the night as well. He agrees, we add him on WhatsApp, hand over the cash. We’re good to go. Well, as it turns out younger brothers make for very unreliable cab drivers. Fool never came back to pick us up! At this point we’re definitely checking out the next day.
A brief bought of homeless: After cabbing it home we began searching online for new accommodations while lounging by the pool (I do my best thinking poolside). Airbnb was all booked up and none of the hosts we’d messaged were replying to inquiries. By the time 2am rolled around we decided, fuck it. We’ll just check out in the morning, go to our home away from home Di Trevi and find out if anyone knows of a hotel or apartment we can book. Before I’d even ordered my omlette our friend and savior Mirsa found a coworker who’s family had an apartment we could rent for €20. This co-worker turned out to be the son of the owner. After breakfast he drove us over to check out the room. It was better than we expected for the price. We took it! Yet another win from our ceaseless attempts to make local friends.
The best thing about our new apartment was that it lead to the discovery of our new (and current) favorite restaurant in Ulcinj. Pirate! This place is a total gem. The patio overlooks the sea and you to enjoy a fantastic breeze during your meal. It was so good we went back a second time.
How to score free weed on the beach: Actually it wasn’t that hard. It’s a music festival. Turns out raving beach goers really like drugs! Who’d have thunk it…
Dude, where’s my phone?: On our third evening of festivaling my travel companion and I ended up getting separated and thus our individual adventures began. Well, she met a dude at the bar and, as any good wingwoman does, I know when to skidaddle! I decided to make a quick pizza run and grabbed a ride to our old stanby, Di Trevi. I met some people at the restaurant and joined their table. One of my fellow diners was a very lovely Montenegrin Swede who offered to drop me back at the festival after dinner. How nice! The path to the festival is through a safari level thicket of tall grasses. It’s an unlit, uber dusty wilderness. Of course there was no way her minivan was going to make it all the way to the entrance. I ended up getting dropped off beside one of several makeshift parking areas consisting of stakes nailed into the ground with roped off parking “spaces” between the posts. Shortly after exiting her vehicle I realized I no longer had my phone. I believe my actual words were, “dear god, where is my phone” or something to that effect. I ended up flagging down the next passerby and hitching a ride back to the restaurant hoping to catch her. Luckily she was still there and I was able to get a taxi to take me home. Shortly after getting into the taxi I realized we‘d been so overjoyed at having found a place so quickly we’d completely forgotten to ask our lovely new hosts for the address where we were staying! The taxi drove all over the place for nearly an hour searching for our apartment based on my vague description of a “gate with a fence and some lights.” Turns out this describes a number of Montenegrin drive ways. Eventually he get frustrated and wanted to drop me back at the restaurant. I protested and after he’d pulled over a group of about 4 locals approached the taxi looking for a ride. After explaining the situation to them they ended up joining our search party! Between those 4 angels, the driver and the numerous people we stopped to ask questions along the way no fewer than 10 Montenegrins ended up helping me navigate home. It probably took a couple of hours. These people are incredible! If you’re Montenegrin and you’re reading this right now sorry that I annoyed the shit out of your people trying to get home that night. Turns out that shit was on Google Maps the WHOLE TIME. I was just too drunk to look it up. Seriously, everyone in this country is friends. It’s like they’re constantly having one big block party. You literally can’t go any where without your taxi driver bumping into several people he knows. The whole country is one big small town! Living in NYC for so many years (particularly my neighborhood) I don’t feel that I have many opportunities to experience being in an actual community. It’s nice to be reminded what that looks like. Damn, I really should’ve taken photos.
An accidental kidnapping: Upon leaving the festival the following evening we attempted to score yet another free ride home. No sooner had we’d stepped into the parking lot than we happened upon a duo of gentlemen excitedly welcoming us into their car. How easy was that?! The driver seemed a bit tipsy (not good), beyond that they seemed VERY enthusiastic to give us a lift. In his defense, most people we met in Montenegro were a little too happy to see us. There are very few Black people in this country (see second post). They get an influx every year during festival season so it’s like a heard of unicorns they get to gawk at for a few weeks every year. Fun times for me. Despite this these two seemed exceptionally excited. As we began driving (in what quickly revealed itself to be the opposite direction of our apartment) they kept pointing to each other and then at us asking, “mange?” Well, I thought they were saying mange. Which means eat in French. (Yes, I now realize that makes no sense. It was an extremely intoxicated and confusing situation!). My linguistically savvy travel companion eventually realized they were actually saying “menage” and were in fact trying to ascertain who would be sleeping with whom. Stop. The. Car! WHY these fools would ever assume that option was on the table is beyond me. These knuckleheaded fools know they’ve never scored so easily in their entire lives! Why they would even TRY it with us is beyond me. We then demanded they stop the car. I ended up reaching into the front seat and throwing the car into park as they were pulling over quite fast enough. We got out and ended up hitching a ride with a lovely group of young ladies who drove by minutes later. Hitchhiking is a rough game. You win some, you loose some!
These are my very condensed memories of what has probably been my craziest night thus far. In consideration of the blog I did manage to whip out my phone at a few points during my drunken stupor to take some notes. Here is a direct cut/paste of my night as captured in a series of drunken notes I’d typed out on my phone before both and after I lost it:
Got into fight about politics on beach w/ Brit who ate half my sandwich then DIDN’T buy me a drink.
Met cute Matthew from Oxford doing blow off his friend’s phone. He’s pretty cute. Could this be my inaugural beach boo? Almost makes up for that last sandwich stealing Brit.
My friend met a dude. That’s so cool! I am drunk, I’m going to Stoy for pizza! Gotta sober up!
Pizza was ok. I’m not in Italy, WHY did I order pizza?! Met people at table. Got ride to beach. Left phone in car!
Hitchhiked back to restaurant. (YES, I fucking hitchhiked; I don’t even know I am anymore!!!!) Girl wasn’t there. Dude with rich brother was. (Rich brother you say? I’m listening…). Said he’d help me find girl. Suddenly she appeared around corner. Got phone back. Took cab home. Cab picked up other passengers. They helped me find apartment. This is a great country.