Monthly Archives: May 2016

Roman mosaics and 2nd-3rd century Villa Urbana in Risan

The rapid Romanisation of Risinium began after the subjugation of the Illyrians under King Gentius in 167 BC. Risinium became a typical Roman town, surrounded by walls, with a town centre – a forum in the Carina fields. Ancient tombs – necropolises – were located outside the walls, and in the southern side of town there was a residential area containing the villas of rich Risan landowners and traders. The remains of the eastern portion of a Roman urban villa were found in the early 20th century. Between 1956 and 1962 the mosaic flooring in four rooms of the villa was fully restored and conserved, and the first protective awning built. Another mosaic floor was discovered in 1972, on which conservation work was also done and a roof added.

risa2                                                                               Photo by TOKO

Partial restoration and conservation of all the walls of the villa around the central yard – the atrium – was also carried out.
Roman mosaics decorate the floors of four of the five rooms in the eastern part of the villa, as well as two rooms in the western part. There are only traces of mosaic flooring in the remaining rooms. The technique used was one of large cubes of local grey and black stone, with motifs of the labrys – a double-bitted battleaxe originating from Crete. In the eastern wing of the villa a mosaic was laid displaying plant motifs, using stone cubes of varying size and colour (red, yellow, green, blue, black and white). In the middle there is a circular medallion depicting the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos, in the form of a winged boy leaning on the head of the bed. It is likely that this room was the bedroom of the villa’s owner – the dormitorium. Geometric chessboard-like patterns decorate the mosaic floor of the southern room, and beyond that there are a further two rooms with mosaics featuring geometric motifs and stylised sea life (cuttlefish and squid). It is thought that one of the corner rooms that do not have mosaics was the dining room (triclinium), with typical Roman couches.

risan                                                                                 Photo by TOKO

24th Kotor Children’s Theatre Festival

The Festival is traditionally held the first twelve days of July in Kotor – a magical backdrop, a UNESCO World Heritage site in one of the most beautiful bays in the world. It begins with the mayor of Kotor handing the keys of the Old Town to the children and thus, symbolically, the care of the town to them. The Festival was established in 1993 just a dozen steps from the building of the Kotor theatre in which the first puppet show was held in 1829.
It is the most important festival dedicated to the theatrical arts and to children and young people in South-Eastern Europe. It has been declared a cultural event of special significance in Montenegro and is supported by the European Union Culture Programme 2007-2013. It is held during the summer holiday season in the most beautiful locations in the Old Town.
The walls, squares, piazzas and piazettas become stages, and the theatre brings together all the arts in the joy of creativity and the creation of joy. After 200 years it brings the theatre back to Kotor to stay. The Festival is devoted to children and young people, but also to all those who nurture the child within them. It seeks to safeguard the values of peace, tolerance, equality and education. It serves to recognise and encourage the interdisciplinary abilities of children and their contribution to the future development of society. Or to use the words of UNICEF: Today’s children: Tomorrow’s world. It encourages the professional development of children’s and youth theatre, presenting the best in puppet, dramatic and multimedia shows from Europe and the world over.
In its 23 years, the Festival has:
– been attended by more than 350,000 people at 50 locations
– staged more than 435 theatrical performances
– taken more than 20,000 children through 750 artistic programmes
– hosted 2,700 artists from 43 countries.

Artistic and Archaeological Riches of Montenegro

Montenegro has a tradition of art going back to prehistory, as testified to by the archaeological finds of paintings by prehistoric man in Lipci near Risan dating to the 8th century BC. The drawing represents a deer hunt, and also features a symbol of the rising sun and others. Another drawing has been discovered on a stone tablet in the Prokletije mountains in the north of Montenegro, depicting a prehistoric man and a wolf.
The Crvena Stijena (Red Rock) site in Petrovići is around 30km from Nikšić and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. Remains from the Middle Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages have been found here, and are highly significant, testifying to the beginnings of life not just in this part of Montenegro but on the planet as a whole. For many years, local and foreign expeditions have been coming to this unique and internationally significant site. More than 26,000 items from the time of prehistoric man have been excavated here. A great many items used in everyday life have been discovered, such as for the procurement and preparation of food, but also non-utilitarian items. These include handmade stone items, snails and shells, as well as ceramic vessels.
The numerous medieval fortresses in Montenegro are an art-form in their own right. They feature Byzantine, Romanic, Gothic and Baroque construction styles, as well as stone forms and paintings. Through the ages these fortresses have played a military and feudal role, or were built as town fortifications. They are built of stone and feature surrounding walls and towers. These fascinating structures were raised in numerous coastal towns, where Illyrian, Austro-Hungarian, Turkish and Spanish influences predominate, such as in Bar, Ulcinj, Herceg Novi, Budva, Kotor, Risan, Perast, as well as in the north of Montenegro: Rijeka Crnojevića, Podgorica and the Lake Skadar area.

The National Museum at Cetinje includes: King Nikola’s Museum, the Museum of Petar II Petrovic Njegoš, the birth house of Njegoš, the Njegoš Mausoleum on Lovćen, Bishop Danilo’s Mausoleum on Orlov Krš, the Art Museum together with the Dado Đurić Contemporary Art Gallery, the Ethnographic Museum and the newly-opened Archaeological Museum and Lapidarium.
The National Museum houses collections of weapons, medals, flags, crests, stamps, photographs, as well as archaeological, numismatic, ethnographic and applied art collections. There are also the residence and the chapel raised in honour of the secular and spiritual leader, poet and philosopher Petar II Petrović Njegoš. During the 1970s the Montenegro Art Museum was known as the Art Gallery, and houses some 3,000 exhibits, including some of the most important works in contemporary Yugoslav and Montenegrin fine art.

A Celebration of Flowers

There are not too many towns around the world that have a holiday dedicated to flowers, even less so a rare variety that manages to flower when few other plants can – despite the winter and cold.
This rare flowering tree is the remarkable mimosa, in addition to the no less beautiful camellia, which also flowers in February. It remains unclear why the mimosa does so well and is so widespread in Herceg Novi specifically, where it can be seen as waves of yellow flying high in the gardens and slopes around the Riviera.
Strong and proud, it puts forth its scent even in the most merciless of winter conditions, creating a magical atmosphere that every guest from Europe and the world over who has been in our town in February and March will fondly remember. Why don’t you come too to experience this unique winter phenomenon, and enjoy flowers budding and blooming in the coldest time of year?

Hipmunk Hotels: Deep South Delights in Lafayette, Louisville, Durham, and More

This post was originally published on traveltweaks’s blog on April 15, 2016.

Exploring the American Deep South is a delight for all types of travelers. Civil War and antebellum attractions draw hordes of history buffs each year, while the Cajun, Spanish, and African influences in areas such as Lafayette make foodies everywhere drool a little. Add a few science centers, annual events like the Kentucky Derby, or a few casinos, and you get the full flavors of this region of the American South. Here are a few destinations for you to explore, along with tips for the area’s best hotels.

Durham, North Carolina

Durham serves as home to Duke University, a landmark for Civil War history, and a pillar in medical research. If you don’t want to feel overwhelmed by young crowds of tourists exploring Duke or cheering at basketball games during March Madness, try visiting in mid-summer. You’ll get better deals on Durham hotels and enjoy your time at places such as the Museum Hotel Durham, the Red Roof Inn Chapel Hill, or the popular Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center.

Duke University
Photo by Tear Knee via

Greensboro, North Carolina

Another North Carolina gem, Greensboro is the perfect destination for those seeking the artistic side of travel. Stop by Elsewhere, the former thrift shop that’s now a prime spot for international art showings, or enjoy a live concert or movie screening in Center City Park. When you get hungry, explore one of the many food trucks in the park. When exhaustion hits, try one of the many affordable Greensboro hotels. Some visitor favorites are the Hyatt Place Greensboro, the DoubleTree by Hilton Greensboro, and the Regency Inn & Suites Greensboro for a historic touch.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Biloxi is a Mississippi favorite because of its mix of interesting sights, casinos, entertainment, and the well-known Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. While fun for fishing enthusiasts, this isn’t the time to visit if you prefer to avoid crowds, as over 60,000 tourists take over the city. Biloxi hotels come in all shapes and sizes. Stay for less at popular venues such as the IP Casino Resort Spa or the Golden Nugget Biloxi, or enjoy the ocean views at the Four Points by Sheraton Biloxi Beach Boulevard.

Lafayette, Louisiana

This unofficial capital of Cajun country is a popular destination for its rich history, exquisite dining, and unique blend of Spanish, African, and French heritage. You can have your pick of Lafayette hotels in the center of the city, or you can head closer to the bayous and forests. Howard Johnson Lafayette, The Holiday Inn Express and Suites, or the Red Roof Inn Lafayette, LA are all popular choices.

Louisville, Kentucky

Home to the Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Science Center, and the Jefferson Memorial Forest, this Southern city draws large crowds and can get pricey. If you have a flexible timeframe, consider traveling to Louisville during autumn and winter, or simply avoid the spring. The Hampton Inn Louisville-Northeast, Marriott Louisville Downtown, and Hyatt Regency are some of the most popular Louisville hotels.



Birdwatching in the Tivat Solila

An ornithology trail has been opened in the special Tivat Solila birdwatching sanctuary, with two bird hides.
The close proximity of the sea and the well-preserved geological features of this lagoon make it especially attractive for birds. The shallow saline water, abouding in marine life, and its silt bed rich in benthos, draw water birds to feed, overwinter and stop off during autumn and spring migrations. 47 water bird species have been recorded at Solila, of which 4 species are permanent residents, around 35 overwinter there and 6 probably nest there. Including other bird groups – songbirds, birds of prey and others – 111 species have been recorded at Solila to date. However, this list is by no means complete, since every year several species new to that habitat are registered.
To date 526 bird species have been recorded in Europe, which means that the number of bird species present in this lagoon comprise more than 20% of the European total, which is no small amount.
Of special importance are at least 11 species from Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, as well as a number of internationally endangered bird species, such as for example the pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus).

Special plant and animal reserve

Because of its importance for the survival of plant life otherwise rarely found along the 800km eastern Adriatic coast, and as a habitat for numerous threatened species of amphibians, reptiles and birds, in 2007 Solila was placed under protection as a special plant and animal reserve, the first of its kind on the Montenegrin coast and the first protected area of any kind on the coast since 1968, when a large number of beaches were put on the list.
Solila is an Emerald site under the Bern Convention and an IBA (Important Bird Area) in Montenegro.

Help the birds

Artificial nests (bird-houses) are primarily occupied by birds that nest in hollows, in trees or rock crevices. The best way to protect these birds is by preserving as many natural hollows as possible – and if not we can provide man-made ones. This is a good way to attract a great many birds into our orchards and gardens where we can easily watch their everyday activity.
Winter is a time of selection, when only the toughest survive. All of the birds that overwinter in our region are adapted to frost and the cold. Opinion is divided as to whether birds should be fed in winter or not. In a preserved, natural environment, in which birds can easily find food for themselves, supplementary feeding is unnecessary in biological and conservation terms. In environments in which natural food sources are lacking (for example in artificial environments, populated areas etc.), supplementary feeding of birds is worth considering. Feeding stations need only be used while snow is on the ground. Seeds needs to be kept dry and grain trays kept clean. Water, bread and salted food should not be given. The most suitable foods are sunflower seeds, oats, corn and other grains.
During dry times of year it is more important to provide birds with drinking stations than with food. Water can be supplied in purpose-made containers or any other kind of shallow dish. Care should be taken that water containers are not too deep.

Canyon Exploration

Canyoning is one of the most exciting and fun activities Montenegro has to offer for anyone seeking adrenaline and adventure. Working your way through canyons and following their river courses, spending time in the wild, descending steep, smooth cliffs worn away over the millennia, discovering spectacular waterfalls – all this will come together to provide an almost fairytale experience.

Canyons are mostly formed from limestone and granite, the incline of their walls reaching 60°. The rocks over which crystal turquoise water cascades, the bright green vegetation – it is hard to put into words. Canyoning involves climbing through narrow crevices and up cascades, and can also involve double rope rapelling, diving and swimming where possible. Canyoning is an extreme sport that is gaining in popularity the world over. Our country can boast a wealth of natural resources and a great number of canyons that you can explore.
The largest and most famous canyon in the world is the Arizona Grand Canyon. The second-deepest canyon in the world, and the deepest in Europe is in Montenegro – the Tara River canyon. The Tara canyon is 78 kilometres long and up to 1,300 m deep. Its drainage basin is 141 kilometres long and is considered the longest river basin in Montenegro. The Tara River canyon has 80 large caves.
In the centre of Montenegro is the Nevidio canyon. Nevidio is the Komarnica River canyon, just an hour away from Nikšić, and is an attractive and increasingly popular tourist destination, especially foreign visitors. A group of mountaineers from Nikšić first reached this canyon in 1965.

Then there is the Grlje canyon near Gusinje, very much worth exploring and touring, featuring smooth cliffs up to twenty metres high that are very close together.
The Cijevna canyon near Podgorica was discovered in 1886 and popularized after exploration by Italian botanist Antonio Baldacci. There are also many other smaller canyons in Montenegro that attract adventurers, such as the Škudra River canyon near Kotor and the Bogutovski Potok stream that flows into the Morača River.
Canyons in Montenegro are mostly found in remote locations, and to explore some of them you will certainly need guides with navigation and wilderness survival skills and knowledge of the route.

Autumn and Montenegro travel

Yellow, red and golden colors predominate in autumn, and why miss this magical time of year in Montenegro when it is perfect for experiencing adventure? The best time to travel is often said to be between September and November, and it is not different in Montenegro. The beautiful weather, the sunny days and the cool but still-mild evenings are perfect for 4×4 safaris, photo safaris, mountaineering or simply hiking the mountain trails, visiting cultural and historical sites with our tour guides or exploring bays and concealed beaches. Here you can bathe since the average temperature of the Adriatic Sea is still 23 °C in October. For visitors who want to spend their days in complete relaxation of body and soul, we can recommend one of the spa and wellness hotels offering a variety of treatments, massages, saunas, refreshing pools or relaxation in a whirlpool bath in beautiful mountain or seaside surroundings.


What are the advantages to traveling to Montenegro in autumn?

Prices of flights and accommodation are lower.
Roads, cafes and restaurants are significantly less busy.
You can visit one of the numerous festivals and other cultural events in Montenegro.
You can tour several destinations, towns and visitor attractions when there are no crowds.
You can travel and spend time outside in light clothing, without the summer heat.
You can enjoy autumn foods and the fruits of the harvest.
You can best experience daily life and authentic local culture.



Hipmunk Hotels: Places to Stay in North Carolina — Durham, Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville and Chapel Hill

This post was originally published on anewlifewandering’s blog on April 11, 2016. via Flickr by Yumian Deng

North Carolina has a diverse landscape ranging from beaches, mountains, and cool cities in between with lots of history. If you haven’t gotten to know this state yet, you will not regret a visit. If you don’t know where to start, the cities of Durham, Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville, and Chapel Hill all have plenty of things to do. Each have their own charming personality.

Below, you can learn a little bit about these three cities and find ideas of where to stay if you decide to visit.


This is where I spent most of my three years in North Carolina. Home to the prestigious Duke University, Durham has a lively energy to it. One of the best things about Durham is the food scene; it was crowned the The South’s Tastiest Town by Southern Living, and I can vouch for that title.

A great hotel to book here would be the The King’s Daughters Inn, which offers the best combination of an elegant and luxurious hotel with a bed & breakfast style. It is centrally located near most of Durham’s best places including the Duke Gardens. For more hotel options you can browse cheap hotels in Durham. via Flickr by Mr. Jincks


Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and offers countless activities, including browsing the NASCAR Hall of Fame, learning about post–Civil War history at the Levine Museum, and interacting with science at the Discovery Place. You can browse the city’s hotel guide to find a place to stay, or look no further than The Dunhill Hotel — a historic, vintage hotel that will make you feel like you walked into an old photograph. via Flickr by DrOMM


I fell in love with Wilmington just minutes after strolling around downtown. The town has a strong history, and it shows along the mile-long downtown Riverwalk and along the waterfront. If you like movies, Wilmington houses the largest American television and film production facility outside of California.

If you want a full-on historic experience, you can stay at the 1913 revival style home Airbnb in the heart of the historic district and within walking distance to many shops, dining, and nightlife. If you would like to stay at a more conventional hotel, you can check out more hotels in Wilmington. via Flickr by James Willamor


If you prefer a place closer to the mountains with a vibrant arts scene, a laid-back attitude, and historic architecture, then look no further than Asheville. Downtown, you can enjoy the many art galleries, museums, places to eat, and a historical aesthetic like the former factory buildings now being used as residences and art studios. To find a place to stay, used this easy-to-navigate Asheville hotel guide. via Flickr by Joshua A Cole

Chapel Hill

Last but not least, Chapel Hill owns up to its spirited atmosphere thanks to the local and beloved University of North Carolina. Places to explore here include the following: the Science Center, the Basketball Museum, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the local favorite and must-visit Top of the Hill restaurant and brewery, and the historical Carolina Inn. You can make it easier to visit this gem by choosing to book your room there! Or, find a different place with the Chapel Hill Hotel Guide. via Flickr by Tom

Whether you pick the foodie and smart town of Durham, the fast growing city of Charlotte, the charming coastal town of Wilmington, the artsy mountain town of Asheville, or the laid-back college town of Chapel Hill, there is no wrong choice.

Explore the amazing Adriatic old town of Herceg Novi

Fortress, small squares, old churches, narrow streets, exotic vegetation – all features of the town of Herceg Novi. Situated at the very entrance to one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the Boka Kotorska (the Bay of Kotor), it abounds in historical heritage, unique and varied flora and day trip that are destinations surrounded by nature and suitable for visits all the year round due to the exceptionally mild, warm climate. The average annual air temperature in Herceg Novi is 16 degrees centigrade.

Whether you are coming from East or West, as you turn off the main highway into the centre of town itself, the first thing to greet you will be the magnificent Kanli Kula fortress. It is often said that the fortress, owing to its size and position, rules over the town. It dates from the 16th century, and like most of Herceg Novi is built of stone, with thick walls and towers. Kanli Kula is known across the Adriatic as a fantastic summer theatre stage, into which it was adapted in 1966. Every summer evening Kanli Kula is the venue for all kinds of concerts, film events and more besides. During the day visitors can tour the walls and enjoy the splendid view over the town for only €1 – the price of the entrance ticket. From here you can take the most beautiful photographs of the city and of the mouth of the Bay of Kotor. Descending the steps from Kanli Kula to the main town square, Nikola Đurković Square (previously called the Salt Square), our gaze alights on the Sahat or Sat Kula (the Clock Tower).

The old clock at the top of the tower long withstood the rigours of time, only being replaced in 1995 with a new, electric one, and has always been one of the hallmarks of Herceg Novi. Built in 1667 during the time of Turkish rule, this tower, with steps running through it, is unusually positioned, and this fascinating structure has served as the main entrance to the town ever since it was built. The square is home to numerous cafes, banks, clothes stores and bookshops. Nearby is also the town market, where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables every day, mostly home-grown, as well as freshly caught fish from local fisherman.

As soon as we get to the bottom of the steps from the main square, through the Clock Tower, we come across a second Old Town square called Belavista, meaning “beautiful view”. Belavista Square is dominated by the Orthodox Church of the Holy Archangel Michael, unique for its stone iconostasis. The Old Town square is a jewel of architecture. The water fountain in the centre of the Belavista Square was recently reconstructed and is a real attraction for tourists.

You can get down to the town promenade and beaches via any number of narrow passageways and steps. One of the most interesting is the passageway from Belavista  Square through Marka Cara Street (named after the writer) and the Catholic churches of St. Jerome’s (with its rich treasure-store) and St. Leopold Mandić’s. In this street lives a veritable dinosaur among trees – a Gingko biloba that has found its place amongst the numerous palms and seaside plant life.

This passageway will also take you to the 15th century Forte Mare fortress by way of a symbolic little bridge that connects the fortress with the Old Town. Built on a rock, it rises steeply above the shore itself, towering over the Town Beach and the harbour (the Škver). At the lower side of Forte Mare there is a door that leads from the promenade to the top of the fortress, built into the walls themselves, and the upper door is also known as the Sea Door (Porta di mare) The Forte Mare Fortress is visible from all around and, as its name suggests, is a true sea fortress. Beginning on 1st July every year, films are shown here, turning it into an open-air cinema under the starry sky – a unique experience. It can be toured between 7 am and 7 pm every day. Tickets for individual visitors are €2 and €1 per person for group visits.

Descending to the Pet Danica Promenade, if we look towards the eastern part of town we can see the Citadela fortress. Standing in the sea itself, connected to the town centre by its walls, this tower was built during the time of Venetian rule. The earthquake which struck Herceg Novi  in 1979 completely demolished this fortress, the old walls of which still lie in the sea.

If you decide to head in the other direction, toward the town harbour and the open-air water polo pool, you will see the Railway Station on your right, now wonderfully renovated as a tourist facility. This was a unique railway station in view of the fact that it was built on the very shores of the sea, next to the town harbour.

Little-known is the fact that trains once ran in the Boka along the Pet Danica Promenade and that the main station was in Zelenika, a few kilometres along the coast . The railway was officially opened on 16th July 1901 when the first train arrived in Zelenika carrying high officials of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ruled the Bay of Kotor at the time. The railway station building in Herceg Novi was built in 1934 thanks to the much-respected mayor of the time Mirko Komnenović. It was built of stone and reconstructed and reopened in 2005.

From the terrace of the “Station” there is a view of the small marina and lighthouse, where fishing and tourist boats and yachts moor. The Škver, as it is popularly known, is the best place to rent a craft or hop on one of the small boats that take trippers to popular spots around Herceg Novi that are most easily accessed by sea. In the summer months, when the town is very busy, Rose, Mamula and Žanjice are three not-to-be missed destinations, offering natural beauty, historical sights and a relaxing atmosphere.

Not only is Rose a beautifully-preserved little Mediterranean village, it is also one of the oldest settlements in the region.It is mentioned as far back as the 4th century by the name of Resnium. Around Rosa, both on land and in the sea, there are some very important archaeological sites. A great many divers come here to explore underwater and to tour the old shipwrecks from times gone by that lie on the sea bed. Rosa is also home to a very well-known diving camp. Alongside the beach, where there are several restaurants, there is the old Forte Rose fortress where there is also a restaurant and tourist amenities.

The little rocky island of Lastavica on which the Mamula fortress stands is set on the sea route to Žanjice, at the very mouth of the Bay of Kotor. Although the Mamula fortress has a dark history it is an impressive sight. It is one of a series of important fortifications (together with Arza and Prevlaka) constructed by the Austro-Hungarian army in 1853 in order to defend the mouth of the bay. It was symbolically named after the Austrian general Lazar Mamula whose idea it was to raise a fortress on the island. Its remarkable architecture makes this fortress one of the most attractive in the Adriatic. The entrance to the fortress is on the north-eastern side of the island, where there is also a drawbridge. Although difficult to access, the site should not be missed, both for a tour and for some swimming in the summer months.
If we continue towards the open sea we will reach the Žanjić beach, one of the most popular in Montenegro. This beach is special because of its crystal clear sea, naturally white pebbled beaches and ancient olive groves growing right next to the beach. You can take a look inside the Church of St. John, dating back to 1881 and located in the olive groves just a few steps from the beach. There you can hear the interesting story about this church and the idyllic location that is Žanjice, or take a stroll through breathtaking natural surroundings to the nearby Mirišta beach.