Fitness and wellness travel: Budva, Montenegro

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Summertime is holiday time. Holiday travel dreams are plentiful, however, in order for them to come to life, the travels dream should be affordable; research is needed.
Earlier this year I attended a holiday and travel show and got a tip.
Montenegro is becoming a ‘new’ European destination for summer holidays and this year the travel agencies have bargain introduction offers.

Montenegro Budva klippe Foto Henrik Elstrup

So recently my husband and I found an interesting offer; one week in Montenegro including plane trip (at a cost corresponding to roughly the price of one night in an average Danish hotel), so off we went to a new destination.

According to the author of a Montenegro tour guide, author and speaker Tom Noergaard:

”I have travelled all over Europa, and there is no doubt in my mind, that Montenegro is one of the most beautiful countries. Here you have mountains, which are comparable to the Alps in France, Switzerland and Austria, and at the same time you are at a destination, where you can count on sun, warmth and good weather during all of the summer season. Apart form 300 km coastline, there are many interesting sights in the back country as well as some really beautiful cities like Kotor on UNESCOs World Heritage Site list”.

M Biogradska

Montenegro, Crna Gora, Црна Гора, “Black Mountain”
Montenegro is situated south of Croatia, west of Bosnia i Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, and north of Albania. To the west is the Adriatic Sea.
The capital is Podgorica, which is situated in the middle of the country (below Milenijum bridge).

Montenegro Podgorica Milenijum bridge Henrik Elstrup

Montenegro has a population of approx. 620.000 and the language is Montenegrin. Luckily most people you meet speak English. Every once in a while though you need a phrasebook, a map and some sign language …

Holiday time
Montenegro looks a bit like Croatia, which is a favourite Danish holiday destination:
Big beaches and beautiful national parks with mountains, forests and lakes.

Montenegro Tara canyon view Marina Aagaard fitness blogMontenegro Tara canyon Marina Aagaard fitness blog

And it is great for those loving activity-packed holidays with sailing, rafting, diving, cycling, running, hiking etc. (photo: Tara river, 144 km long; running through Tara River Gorge, 82 km, the deepest river canyon in Europa, 1300 m, number two in the world after Colorado Canyon, USA.

For those interested in history, culture and architecture, there are many interesting old cities and monasteries, e.g. in Cetinje, the former capital. The sign on the square shows number of kilometers to the great museums around the world.

M Cetinje museumsskiltMontenegro Cetinje Monestary photo Henrik Elstrup     Montenegro Cetinje foto Marina Aagaard fitness blog

Pre season advantages: Weather not too hot, 20-25 degr. C; nice. Not too many other tourists. The travel is very cheap.

Pre season disadvantages: The beaches are a bit dirty at places (‘summer cleaning’ is ongoing). Some restaurants and bars are still closed. Weather is somewhat unstable.

Our trip in May went to Budva.
Budva is situated at the Montenegrin Riviera. It is a cozy small town with a marina and a beautiful old town, stari grad. At the same time Budva Riviera is a festival-centre with more than 10 festivals and concerts during summer.

M strand by
A nice town for either a family holiday or partying. Also a nice base for trips around Montenegro.

You should check the Budva calendar. We accidentally landed in Budva in the middle of The Great Carnival of Budva with participants from 12 lande countries.
That spelt three days with lots of colours, dancing and entertainment. One big free party.

Montenegro Budva Carnival og bymur Foto Henrik Elstrup

However, like all popular tourist destinations, the town adapts to ‘popular demand’, so the hotels and restaurants are fairly international and touristic.
You pay in euro in Montenegro and prices are fairly cheap, however, surprisingly, as Budva and neighbouring cities, including Tivat, are becoming increasingly popular with the rich and famous, there are many hotels, shops and restaurants with very high prices.

Visit Montenegro Top 5 Must Visit places

  • Durmitor; national park); nice, even in rainy weather.
  • Tivat; small town, big marina for multi-million dollar yachts.
  • Perast by Boka Bay, the entire bay area is a ‘must visit’.
  • Skadar Lake; large, beautiful popular lake (area).
  • Sveti Stefan (hotel-island); residence of many superstars. Earlier you could visit the island, now it is closed to the public and controlled by guards …; you have to watch from a distance, unless you book a room at five star plus prices.

Aagaards Top 5 Must Visit places

An absolute must-see and you need a day for this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A small town with a very big and beautiful medieval town boasting some of the worlds narrowest alleys. Kotor comes with an interesting challenge:
On the mountain behind the town, there is a fortress and the ancient walls. From an alley in the back part of town you can take a walk to the top (cost 3-4 euro), or rather a stair walk of approx. 1350 steps (and they are oversized). Not for the weakly, but a to-do trip for everyone else, for the exercise and a fantastic view of Kotor and Boka Bay.

M Kotor bymur   M Kotor streetM Kotor stairsM Kotor udsigt fra bjerg

Budva and the Riviera
A 3-4 hour walk of mixed views; past due, worn-out, ugly and new, beautiful, stylish.
We took a walk along the beaches from Budva to Sveti Stefan. A free ride and one of the highlights of our tour. Exercise the easy way combined with some very diverse nature and culture experiences. You cannot walk by the beach all the way, though, as some are private hotel beaches; you need to go up to the street a couple of times.

Montenegro klipper i vandM Zoffs fish bar

Lovcen National Park
A low-budget busride to Lovcen National Park, from the heat by the water to the mountains with snow in may. Cool in every sense of the word. On the top of Jezerski, 1749 a.s.l., there is a mausoleum for Petar II Petrovic Njegos. First walk the 461 steps, then walk via the path (with no railings) to the mausoleum.

It is worth the 5 Euro to enter. It is an impressive structure with lots of cool marble.

M Lovcen mausoleumMontenegro Lovcen Mausoleum foto Henrik Elstrup   Montenegro Lovcen Mausoleum foto Henrik Elstrup   Montenegro Lovcen Mausoleum

You can (and should) eat in the small restaurant right by the stairs. The restaurant is nice, the view is awesome and the food is very good … but bring your own toilet paper (scarce in many small Montenegrin restaurants).

Tivat is a small town without major attractions … apart from the harbour, which is well worth a visit. Formerly a naval harbour, now a luxury marina for mega-yachts …
and you can buy your own yacht there, e.g. 30-40 mio. USD.

Montenegro Tivat yacht  Marina Aagaard fitness blogM Tivat mega yachts

If you don’t want a boat, but just want to part with your money, you can visit a casino, which there are quite a few of. Local guides claim that part of Casino Royale was filmed in Montenegro, while internet sources state, that it was in the Czech Republic.

Durmitor National Park
Montenegros first and biggest national park from 1952, 39.000 acres, with Durmitor mountain, 2522 m, a 898 m deep cave and many lakes; the biggest is the Black Lake, Crno Jezero, which really is tow lakes, Little Lake and Big Lake, connected by a small stream. The Black Lake is a popular vacation spot (here on a rainy day).

M Black lake Crno Jedarska

Much more Montenegro
A week is not enough, there are so many places to visit; like Herceg Novi up north, Bar down south (with thousand year old olive trees), Podgorica and rather a long way from there; the monestary built into a mountain, Manastir Ostrog, from 1650, which is visited every year by many believers from different faiths.

M Ostrog monestary

Holiday fitness
A holiday is a wellness experience in itself and on this little holiday it was topped by a few days with two days with spa and fitness. Our budget hotel Lucic was very nice, next to the city centre and a super room, but without any amenities apart from a small breakfast buffet with pancakes and omelet, but no vegetables or fruit at all (so buy your own).

But for wellness, within walking distance (5-10 minutes) you could visit the spa at the luxury hotel Avala, which has a super nice pool and an o.k. sauna and steam bath.
And a fully equipped fitness centre with free weights, machines and even Kinesis (advanced pulley system).

M Avala wellness ude og inde poolM Avala wellness infinity pool aftenM Avala fitness kinesisM Avala fitness jog

This is probably not the last time I will visit Montenegro. There is still a lot to see. And it is very easy and cheap to get around in their small mini-busses.
You can also rent a car, if you are fearless that is; the Montenegrins drive quite fast and without a care, so along all the roads, you will see the word ‘Autoslep’ (towing) and contact numbers on rocks, buildings and signs.

M Autoslep sten

More about Montenegro

Visit Montenegro
Montenegro Wikipedia
Branislav Strugar: Montenegro
All about Montenegro

More photos by husband; Montenegro, Henrik Elstrup 500 px

Wellness Tour: Let Your Five Senses Travel

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Stay fit and well by seeking new sensory experiences; this stimulates the tactile organs and the brain. You do not have to travel around the world; every day you can experience something new, if you want to: Be mindful and proactive.
Let your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin ‘wander’; keep all your senses happy by treating them to different things.  

I took a sensory trip late summer to Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus. The sound of the wind and waves is always pleasing to the ear and seaside air feels and smells refreshing.
This ‘trip’ was mainly a visual experience, though, as most of the sculptures were surrounded by signs ‘Do Not Touch’. However, some artworks were meant to be touched and used, eg. a lively bathing jetty and a tea ‘frame’ (at bottom of post).

One special piece attracted my attention. At a distance it looked like stone, alabaster, but when I got up closed and touched it, it was sticky and foul-smelling! A surprise:
Beautiful art is nice, but so is ugly and puzzling art.

Sculpture by the sea Grain of Soap photo Henrik Elstrup 1) I see something somewhat different. 2) I listen; no sound except for the waves.
3) I touch it, it is sticky! 4) I smell it, a strange smell (later learned it was raw soap).
Due to the smell, I refrain – for once – from tasting it.

This piece – I discovered when reading the program later on – was meant to resemble a super large grain of sand.
Grain of Soap. Material: Soap. Approx. 200x200x300 cm. Artist: Esben Brandt-Møller.
The artist used a microscope to map a grain of sand from the Aarhus beach, enlarged the image, then had it modeled in clay and cast in soap. Just as a grain of sand is worn by water, wear and tear reshaped and dissolved the ‘grain of soap’ continuously throughout the exhibition. A thought-provoking idea.

Sea kaffeTea with a view # 2. Wood, acrylic. Artist: Anja Franke. Spectators could sit on the frame,  many did, and make a cup of tea (with herbs planted next to this) and become part of  the view and landscape. Art with a touch of taste.

Jetty at Sculpture by the Sea photo Henrik Elstrup Vandmodul A1 og B2 Fase 1. Floating pontoons, larch wood. Artist: Jesper Dalgaard.
A sculpture, special movable-element bathing jetty in-between art and architecture.
Challenging your sense of balance.

Your senses are truly fantastic, treasure and protect them. Here is a quick guide to strategies for improved sensory fitness and wellness and anti-aging:

Senses | Senses Super Life and Sport

Eyes | Look See Super Performance Tip

Ears | Hear Hear Performance Listening

Nose | Sniff Sniff Air Energy and Life

Mouth | Chew Chew Life and Energy Anew

Skin | Touch Touch Feel Much …

Airport Wellness

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

An airport is a special place; either you see just a glimpse of it rushing through or you have plenty of time, no rush, because your itinerary dictates a longer stay.
In that case, apart from plenty of shops, normally there is an abundance of cafes or restaurants, where you can pass time: When visiting; make smarter choices, so this part of your journey does not undermine your well-being and performance.
Avoid nausea, discomfort and fatigue and maintain health and wellness during your travelling by making some small adjustments.

Wellness on your journey coffee for two Marina Aagaard

Maybe just one cup of coffee and some almonds instead of croissants and cappuccinos?!

Do you (frequently) spend hours at the airport? Improve your airport ‘stay’ and stay healthy using these simple strategies, which also work at home.

Airport wellness

  • Drink plenty of water; so you avoid 1) dehydration and 2) liquid sugar (calories).
    Reduce or avoid or minimize coffee and tea. Avoid alcohol entirely.
  • Eat healthy, wholegrain and vegetables (÷ white bread/+ wholegrain, ÷ candy/+ nuts, etc.). “You must choose, but choose wisely.”
  • Eat in moderation. Choose a small or medium size portion.
    Find something else to do than eating, while you wait for your plane.

You do not have to be fanatic. If you are on holiday, there should be room for less healthy snacks (if so desired). But if you are a frequent traveller, e.g. jobrelated, it is wise to make some healthier choices in order to stay fit and healthy.

Example of a gradual habit change (‘detox’):

Large chai latte > small chai latte > green tea > water
Two croissants > one croissant > a small croissant > some almonds
A chocolate bar > half a chocolate bar > grapes > carrots

Happy and healthy travelling!

Journey of The Day: Wellness Isn’t Far Away!

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

First fitness: A morning jog with the dog.
Then wellness: A visit to the spa down the road.
Mindbody activities go together for balance in life.

Work can wait. Thanks to a friend I get an opportunity to go to the spa right now. So I go from a ‘construction site’ (home) just 11 miles up the road to a haven, very well-kept mega-lawn, Lübker Golf Resort, designed by Robert Trent Jones, and Lübker Spa.

IMG_3082Sauna in the background, 85 degr. C (185 F), cold tub in front, 10 degr. C (50 F).
You make no friends by waving a camera around in a spa, also it is not allowed;
this was shot by kind permission and no other users in sight.

Would anyone in their right mind go to a spa in the middle of summer? Yes, they would!
If they have insider information of all the benefits of hot-cold water therapy: Improved blood circulation, recovery, immune defense, skin care, anti-aging, mindbody relaxation …


  1. Whirlpool gentle massage
  2. Steam bath
  3. Foot bath, 5 x hot cold water therapy
  4. Hot tub outside (sun shining, a surprise)
  5. Sauna +
  6. Cold tub (4 x hot cold theraphy)

Footbath spa and wellness         Hot cold water therapy

Happy feet! Nice: Go for a walk through a hot and cold bath and two kinds of stones. I opt for an extra round or two or three. Supertip: Walk with bare feet, e.g. on sand, for a free foot massage and excellent sensory stimulation; for the neuromuscular system and brain.

IMG_3086Lunch at café. Tuna salad with smoked tuna, lettuce, cucumber, onion,
mozzarella, pine nuts and more. My tastebuds are on a journey, too.

It is going to be a good weekend …

Airport Fitness

An airport is an interesting place to be, though it is a time stealer.

To me to travel is not just about the final destination, but very much the sensations of the journey itself; the hustle and bustle of airports, ports and stations, to watch people of many nationalities with very different looks and attitudes pass by, and to listen to the sounds and to feel the movements of cars, busses, trains, planes, ships, while watching the ever-changing sky, landscapes and seascapes.

Kastrup lufthavn 2Excitement is building … check-in information at Copenhagen Airport, May, 2013 (iPhone snapsnot for true ‘being-on-the move-not-paying-too-much-attention-to-quality-look’).

Back at the airport: If you often spend time there, waiting or moving from terminal to terminal, why not optimize your journey and your health?
These strategies work ‘at home’, too.

Airport fitness

  • Stay on your feet, e.g. stand, as much as possible. Do not sit too much, as it is true: It is a killer. And apart from being very bad news health-wise, the buttocks will take the shape of chair seats!
  • Walk, don’t stand, on the airport conveyor belts and escalators. You will improve metabolic fitness and maintain weight even with small positive changes, e.g. walking instead of standing.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator (when you have dropped off heavy suitcases); take the stairs as often as possible. It is great for fitness. Extended stair stepping improves muscle strength-endurance and cardiovascular fitness. 

Happy feet … (and legs and core and heart).

To Travel Is To Live

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”

Hans Christian Andersen, Danish Author and poet (1805-1875),
The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

How true!

Nationalpark Mols Bjerge

Nationalpark Mols Bjerge. Sometimes you don’t have to travel very far to see something nice and new. This is ‘just down the road’ (5 miles away) a couple of weeks ago.

One of my best tips for wellness is to travel, not necessarily to Bali or the Easter Islands, though probably nice, but to get out and about and see, do and learn something new.

To do it when you can and while you can: Travel in your own town, state, country – or the world, if you got time (read money) to spare.

Go somewhere new, get variety in life. I suddenly realized, having visited e.g. Los Angeles and London more than 10 times each, that there are 206 sovereign states (193 UN member states) and thousands of other cities to see. Think about that …
Maybe it is time to see something new and not go the same ole places every time …

What do you think?

Dear F W World follower, a personal message for you

Dear Fitness Wellness World follower,

My first ‘personal post’ with some information for you.

First of all a sincere thank you for your interest and your connecting with me and this blog.
As a blogger newbie it is great to meet other bloggers. And I strive to find the very best pieces of information about fitness, wellness and motivation – reliable research or test based methods and ideas.

However, I do apologize for not being superactive post wise and also being almost invisible in cyberspace. I am out there every once in a while, but mostly I am (too) busy researching/lecturing as a professor of sports (and fitness) and travelling doing workshops. I hope to be more active and supportive in the future.

In the meantime I have a project. As I am fairly new to this media and slow to catch up, I have not found the optimal rhythm and style yet. But I have been thinking about something for a while:

I would like to move my fitness scriblings to a new blog (under construction – will notify when ready): Fitness Wellness Forum – because I invite more comments and questions.
Same post set up, with state-of-the-art fitness tips, not too frequently, but more regularly.

And I would like to test this page as a Fitness Wellness World page with more posts with fitness wellness travel information – as I would like to share some extra photos and tips.

However, as English/American is not my first language and I am a bit slow, when translating, I will start writing in Danish and hope that Google translate will do a good job and the photos will say more than words … (if it is not working, I am all ears …).

I realize that this was not exactly, what you signed up for – however, the plan is that the posts will be about fitness and wellness, but also quite a lot about wellness travelling etc.
So in the very near future I will test this and your response is most wellcome.

I hope this works well, I am giving it a go.
In any case I will be back with a little more info shortly.

See you 🙂


m1Me today. Hair growing. Growing up.