Naples, with it’s traffic-clogged streets and gritty-city vibe felt much further from the quiet countryside of Montepulciano than it’s geographic location would imply. A quick 5-hour train ride and we were standing in the middle of one of Italy’s most notorious cities. Famous for it’s pizza, pasta, and pick-pockets, Naples can be an amazing place to visit — as long as you stay on your toes.
At only 9 years since it’s independence from Serbia and the former Yougoslavia, but with known civilizations dating back to the 6th century, Montenegro is the (second) newest old country in Europe. This blend of old and new could be felt in the historic Old Town fortresses that now housed trendy hotels and restaurants. It could also be seen in the pop-up stands along the roads where locals sold their homemade olive oils and fruits to beach-goers from all over Europe. In spite of (or perhaps because of?) a long history of political and boarder changes, the people we meet seemed rather unfazed by the latest developments.
Our decision to visit was initially spurred by Schengen visa regulations — since Montenegro has not yet joined the majority of Europe under Schengen it meant we could spend our time exploring the country without the anxiety of knowing our 90-day clock was counting down. It also checked an important box for me: visit a country that we didn’t know existed before we started out on our trip.
Korčula was the perfect antidote to yet another week of gluttony and back-to-back sightseeing in Ireland. A 2ish hour ferry ride from the port town of Dubrovnik in Croatia, Korčula is one of the quieter islands in Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. The old town resembled a mini Dubrovnik with white stone houses crowded together in the ancient city walls, their bright coral red tops standing out against the picturesque green mountains beyond.
Once inside the walls, the town could be a bit overwhelming at first. It was, like most beaches in Europe, packed full of tourists off of the ferry boats and private yachts. Happily, the apartment we rented through a local travel agency was a short 10 minute walk outside the city’s walls – close enough for easy grocery shopping, but far enough from the all-night partying in town.