Shaken and Stirred – A View To Kill For
Some destinations should be explored from behind the wheel of a vintage sports car. Mark Southern got in the driving seat to discover the old school glamour of Montenegro.
As originally published in Tempus Magazine, 2015
There are many places on this wonderful Earth that demand to be explored by foot, whilst others insist upon being witnessed from above or by sea. However, without wanting to sound too Jeremy Clarkson here (note to Editor – be calm, no controversy here), there’s just some spots that simply need to be beheld behind the wheel of a classic sports car. Montenegro is one of these, and some.
To experience this ourselves, we picked up an obscenely beautiful 1970 Aston Martin DB6 from the always stunning city of Dubrovnik, and set off for a three day road trip to and around the sovereign state of Montenegro.
It’s fair to say that the diminutive nation, only half the size of Wales, has had a gargantuan history, which undeniably, and understandably, still impacts upon it today. For many hundreds of years Montenegrins faced a relentless succession of power-crazed empire builders wrestling for control of new frontiers, before being finally annexed by Yugoslavia in 1918. Then came a near century of further difficulties, before gaining independence in 2006. That’s some list of scrapes to pull through.
This memorable legacy has left its mark on the state, nestled into a tight little gap of Adriatic headland between Croatia to the North, Serbia to the East, and Albania to the South, and its along this breath-taking coastline that we wind our way into Montenegro.
There’s an immediate old fashioned charm about the place, with slaloming roads bending around lush green mountains, and a kind of sepia colour palette that oozes cinematic splendour. The Aston glides past vista after vista, until we arrive at the spectacular Bay of Kotor, hidden between a high-rise mountainous frame, and with the crystal blue Adriatic sea twinkling as far as the eye can see. As the road beckons us around the final corner, the walled town of Kotor itself emerges stage-left, creating an introduction to a country like no other I’ve seen. It’s a glorious opening sequence from a Bond movie yet to be made.
We settle into the classically Montenegrin waterfront Palazzo Radomiri, where whitewashed buildings and sun-drenched terracotta rooftops blend into the deep green mountainside, reflected back by the blue sea. The hotel is bijou and contemporary classic, and we enjoy dinner on the hot flagstones of the outside dining area.
In the morning, after yoga at sun-rise on the private jetty, we fall back into the DB6 and set off on our coastal adventure once more, wistfully seeing the Bay of Kotor drift into the background. However, out of sight and out of mind, as just moments later vertiginous mountains lead us a merry zigzag through their passes, as one perfect fishing village after another sprawls chaotically beneath our birds-eye view.
As we emerge from the high passage, the high walls of the town of Budva provide yet another perfect set for the best Elizabeth Taylor movie Elizabeth Taylor didn’t make. Its movie-star glamour perfectly congruent with the simple beauty around it.
We drive into the city, to the quite wonderful Aman residence of Sveti Stefan; the famous island hotel on the Adriatic. What was once a 15th Century fortified village is now possibly the most iconic luxury hotel in Europe, reached by a narrow isthmus. Here, we explore the heartbreakingly stunning island, whilst taking time out in the excellent spa, before dinner as the sun sets on the romantic courtyard.
Little happens in Montenegro in any great hurry, and the final day of our trip is spent leisurely driving inland for lunch in the capital city of Podrica, where Sundays are mostly spent in a state of simple calm, before winding our way back to Dubrovnik.
Lord Byron once described the Montenegrin coast as “the most beautiful contact between the earth and the sea”. As we begrudgingly hand back the keys of our new favourite car, we can’t help but agree.
British Airways fly direct to Dubrovnik from London Gatwick. Don’t forget to try their award winning First Class service.
Enjoy the stunning Bay of Kotor from the delightful Palazzo Radomiri.
Experience a hotel like no other on Earth at the Aman Sveti Stefan.
Make the most of some of the most incredible roads in Europe with a vintage hire car from www.classiccarhire.com.
This article originally appeared in Tempus Magazine, 2015. See below for full article: