After nine straight days in Budapest and Belgrade characterized by too much booze and too many boys, I arrived in Montenegro, specifically Kotor, expecting to relax by the bay for three days and lazily take in the stunning scenery.
While I did do those things, I had an unexpectedly amazing week thanks to my dope hostel, Montenegro Hostel 4U, and the wonderful, beautiful, and fun-loving mix of staff and travelers that I met while there.
To be honest, I really didn’t have any expectations for Kotor. Admittedly, I’ve only known that Montenegro is now its own country (there used to be a country called Serbia & Montenegro) since around this time last year after a couple of the bloggers I follow traveled there. Their posts plus a quick google search prompted me to add Montenegro to this trip. Because take a gander at this:
The mountains and the water, what more could one ask for? I’m a fire sign (Leo), but I am a water baby at heart. Being around the water, whether it’s swimming, boating, kayaking, or simply just looking at it, makes my soul happy. Anyway! I checked into Hostel 4U after a short, nondescript flight from Belgrade and was greeted with a shot of homemade rakia, which is the national liquor. There really aren’t words to describe how strong it is, but when in Kotor 🙂
It’s fitting that Hostel 4U looks like a house (it’s the brick building with green shutters on the right in the above photo) because everyone really did become like family. The hostel has the usual things that make for a comfortable stay: prime location, cheap price (8 euro/night when I was there), nice sized rooms, spacious lockers, ensuite restrooms, clean kitchen, and a bright common room equipped with couches, mounted flat screen TV, computers, and speakers. Hostel 4U is only a 5-10 minute walk to the Old Town, but is away from the tourist masses that come from the cruise ships each day. Therefore, the restaurants and shops around here are cheaper than what is the norm in Old Town.
What really makes Hostel 4U special, though, is the incredible, enthusiastic staff! I can’t say enough nice things about them, but I will try. Along with the shot of rakia, I was also greeted by a friendly, smiling manager who told me to let him know if I needed anything at all. In my experience, mostly all staff at other hostels will say that, but Boban truly means it!
He’s a 24/7 host who will go above and beyond to make sure you are happy and having a great experience. As will Mile, Steve, and the lovely Bobana. They are all such caring, friendly, helpful people. It’s hard not to love them! They organize our activities each night–BBQs, drinking games, pancakes, etc–and then participate and hang out with us, which leads to a bomb atmosphere. It’s no wonder that almost everyone ends up extending their stay (I was originally supposed to stay 3 nights, but ended up staying a week. I also came back here for an additional two nights after I went to Bosnia. Oops!).
We would usually head to the bars around 11, where I gave my best effort at dancing to EDM and house music. I’m usually in more of a rap/hip-hop/R&B/ shake ya tailfeather type of mood when I’m drinking, but I adjusted. Sort of 🙂
A special shout out to Steve who made the transition from guest to staff appear seamless, and was a perfect addition to the team. Another shout out to Zvono the cat for the cuddles, as well as for being one of the only cats I’ve been able to tolerate (I’m not an animal person in the slightest).
I also made some great friends at the hostel. Because most guests stay at Hostel 4U for several days, we had the same crew for most of my stay which is a rarity in my travels. After solo traveling for weeks, it was beyond nice to wake up in a comfy bed with a view of the bay, and then go hang out with the same friends each day.
My cute Californian roomie Caty–it was just us two in our room–would cook us homemade meals each night. I’m talking stuffed peppers, pad thai, nachos, roasted veggies…she has major skills. My Australian friend on a two year round the world trip inspired me to cement some big travel plans for myself. My French friends and I colored mandalas in the common room, and they comforted me one night when I drank too much and started crying in the bar. The cutest Finnish girls went late night swimming with me in the bay of Kotor.
During my second stay I met a girl from Colorado who is currently doing the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, and I don’t think I’ve ever clicked with someone more quickly than I did with her. People thought we had known each other for years! We also beat two Canadian guys at beer pong. #murica #girlpower
Kotor is one of those places where you go simply to stay at the hostel, although it is definitely worth a visit in its own right. I want to go back there soon, and bring all of my best friends and travel girlfriends (Allison, Lexi, Megan, & Paige: I’m looking at yall). I can only imagine how lit Hostel 4U is during the summer months. A million thanks to the staff again–my fun obsessed self thoroughly appreciated all of the good times and memories.
Has your hostel ever made your experience in a new place? Favorite hostel in the Balkans?