Little Montenegro... and the Great Gatsby

Little Montenegro! He lifted up the words and nodded at them—with his smile. The smile comprehended Montenegro’s troubled history and sympathized with the brave struggles of the Montenegrin people. It appreciated fully the chain of national circumstances which had elicited this tribute from Montenegro’s warm little heart. My incredulity was submerged in fascination now; it was like skimming hastily through a dozen magazines.

He reached in his pocket, and a piece of metal, slung on a ribbon, fell into my palm.

“That’s the one from Montenegro.”

To my astonishment, the thing had an authentic look.

“Orderi di Danilo,” ran the circular legend, “Montenegro, Nicolas Rex.”
— The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I discovered Montenegro about ten years ago and I'm lucky enough to have a house overlooking the Bay of Kotor. The Great Gatsby claimed to have fought there in the First World War but few people visit preferring it's tourist friendly neighbour Croatia and the walled city of Dubrovnik.

Montenegro is a land of contrasts. The coastline is rocky and savage but overlooks the peaceful Adriatic and the serene Bay of Kotor.

Kotor is a miniature Dubrovnik clawing its way up the mountains that have forever isolated the country from the rest of Yugoslavia. It's walls at times impossible to separate from the rocky escarpment.

The bay is the southern most fjord in Europe and today huge cruise ships pull up on the road side next to the medieval gates of Kotor taking advantage of the deep water.

 Here is an excellent piece on Montenegro from the BBC - Cheese, beer and a wonderful view

The view down to the Bay of Kotor

The view down to the Bay of Kotor