Around two weeks after we had visit of our friends in Croatia, the next one was waiting for us. The parents of Theres came to visit us in Montenegro. The reunion was good, even better for Theres. We were looking forward seeing her parents and spending two nice weeks together. In this time we had the idea, that Paul could write a post for our blog. So now you get the chance to read about the two weeks seen through the eyes of the visitors. Enjoy it!
Where is this country? Yes, we have heard about it from the new states of the former Yugoslavia. But which is the capital, how far away is it from Switzerland? These and more details we didn`t know. Beatrice had the idea to visit our traveling daughter and Johannes. At least normal tourists can`t find this destination in a brochure. As soon as Paul had been convinced about the journey – or he just had to accompany his wife – so that she could see her daughter again, who is since June on the road towards east, the flight has been booked.
Because we (or actually only Paul) didn’t trust Air Serbia, we flew with AUA (Austrian Airlines) first to Vienna and then to the south towards the capital Podgorica. That we were traveling, we noticed already on our final destination. Only 50 % of the luggage arrived in Podgorica. The reason might have been, that the lady on the checkin asked in the morning, if Podgorica is in Indonesia. The next surprise followed just around the corner. The car rental company told us, that the car was not ready yet, “car is in the service, car is in a traffic jam”. We just got it at 16.15 instead of 15.00. Then we drove towards Žabljak. After 20 km, the road was blocked because of an incident. This was the only main road for the north. On a very small road we tried to drive around the incident, but the people from the north side had the same idea. Finally after 3 hours for 150 km, we arrived in the dark in Žabljak, where we met Theres and Johannes. Now the holidays could start.
Zabljak Nationalpark – Crno jezero (Black lake)
The village Žabljak ( 3200 inhabitants) is an interesting place for people traveling to Montenegro. Many mountains and lakes in a big area. But they are still working on the infrastructure – the people are still building. A lot of material is missing. Instead of supports out of steel they use trunks of trees!
The first day we chose to visit Crno (black) jezero (lake). This lake is in the middle of high mountains. Afterwards we walked to Ziminjo jezero. It was a small and natural path we walked on towards the lakes. The hearts of the women were beating hard, as there were heaps of mushrooms around. Chatarells, porcinos and parasols. Although we had to stop many times, we still reached the lake. It was laying calm in between big mountains. Trees and mountains were reflecting with colors from the autumn in the dark water of the lake. There were only two other people walking around. We enjoyed the nature, the silence and loneliness. For lunch we had fresh burek. Then we kept on walking, passing by on bizarre trees, moss, dry wood and big stones. Later we walked around the second lake of Crno jezero.
For the next day, the weather was said to be good, so we wanted to book our next trip. The idea came from somebody, who doesn’t like the water too much.
Riverrafting Tara canyon
For our adventure we met already at 9.30 and drove with a bus down to the Tara canyon. Each of us got a helmet, neoprene and life jacket, then we drove to the start of our journey. The biggest canyon of Europe has been cut out by the river Tara. With our boat we floated on the clear water. Under the commando of our guide and our paddles, we managed all the shoots without a problem. When there is high water, Tara will have much more water. But will it still be fun then? The floating on the water, the impressive landscape, the deepness of the canyon – a unique adventure. After the boat trip we finished our adventure with a yummy fish. From the base of the adventure company we could see people gliding with the flying fox over the canyon, 400 m long and 150 m above the Tara.
On a curvy mountain road, in between high mountains, we reached the start of our day trip. Here we could see, how the mountains developed. We saw the different layers and bucklings. Then we walked uphill on narrow paths, sweating although it was pretty cold.
The view, mountains as far as we could see, the deep blue lake below us, let us forget, how exhausting it was. We had a small drink and ate some chocolate, then we walked back down.
The next day we were walking on a small path through grassland and forest, admiring flowers, mushrooms and butterflies. Around the lake it was totally quiet, only the wind was blowing. We were breathing fresh air, letting our thoughts go away – this was how holidays feel like.
On a remote mountain pass we started our journey. The marked path became narrower, the small pines tighter. We had to push away branches, taking the backpack off, holding on to rocks. The landscape around us was impressing, big craters, steep paths, grassland. Finally we reached the viewpoint of Gologlav. We had an amazing view over the plateau of Žabljak surrounded by sunshine and fog.
Evening walk in Žabljak
In the evening we went for a short walk in Žabljak. Just behind the village it seemed that the civilization was ending. The land was all flat with short grass, good enough for goats, sheep and other small animals. How cold will it be during wintertime, the wind blowing through the area? On the other side there was plenty of room left for the village to grow. The sunset made all to a mystic place.
Pkt 1722 – Zeleni Vir
After cold, cloudy weather, we had a fantastic autumn day. Wo drove again up the pass, and let the many turns behind us. Beatrice and Paul were starting today by themselves from Point 1722. Theres and Johannes were going to the highest peak of Crna Gora, Bobotov Kuk 2523 altitude. Our goal was Zeleni Vir on 2023 altitude. The day was perfect, the sky was clear blue. We walked on the path in between of big mountains. We could not stop being astonished. A plateau after an other we let behind us and finally we saw the small lake. And today we were lucky, all the mountains around were reflecting in the water.
We said good bye to the mawkish host in Žabljak – the south was calling. First destination was Nikšić and the monastery of Ostrog. From the parking space we saw the monastery, around 300 m above us. We were thinking about driving or walking up and we decided, to do it like the pilgrims and walk up. Moving our body was good. In the shade of the cedar trees we climbed up. On top an orthodox monastery was waiting for us and many tourists were up there too. The paintings were impressive. A bit downwards was an even nicer church, which was only visited by few people. We found silence and remoteness. Then we drove to Slansko jezero. Next to the beautiful barrier lake, we were having a nice lunch. It started getting warmer and we drove further to the sea.
We passed through the busy town of Kotor, but we did not want to sleep there. In the evening, when it already started getting dark, we found a nice flat. Thanks of the few words Theres knew in the language, we had a flat, 30 m away from the sea, in the middle of an old village. We had a huge balcony, view over the sea and to Tivat and every morning we could observe airplanes taking off and landing. What else did we need!! We just enjoyed it. That night we decided to have dinner in a restaurant. The meal was good but the portion was for the double of us. The starter (plate with cheese) from Johannes was good enough for 4 persons, the salads were huge, on the plate with pommes there were 2 cutlets. Luckily in the right moment a cat came to help us...
Bjelila-Rose-old tower-bath-fresh fish
Before breakfast we had a swim in the sea. Then we enjoyed the breakfast on the balcony. The sun was rising above the mountains – on and on we could observe an airplane taking off in Tivat. We enjoyed this moment. Then we wanted to explore the half island. So we drove to Rose, a small village next to the sea. It would even be easier to reach the place by boat. We saw many houses for sell. One was a beautiful 3 story house for € 850'000. Montenegrinians earn around € 450 a month... Greetings from the mafia! Then we drove on to the beach of Zanjic. Here we visited an old tower and had another refreshing bath in the sea. For dinner we cooked 7 fresh fish, which we got from your landlady. Her husband was a fishing man. And after all, the village Bjelila was a fishing village. Every evening we could see the fishermen making their boats ready for the night.
Its named to be an interesting town, well known for the old part of the town. We remarked it, as it was quite hard to get a parking space and one after another cruising ship was arriving, letting out tourist from all over the world. We even walked up to the fortress of Kotor, 400 m altitude and it was hot. The view was superb. Afterwards we walk through old, narrow streets. Some of the buildings were still damaged from the earthquake of 1979. And everywhere tons of tourists.
What are people talking about this town. We wanted to see it with our eyes. It is famous for smuggling cigarettes and drugs and money gets washed. Balkan people and Russians are in this business – it is called Mafia. We went along the promenade, where there were many new luxurious apartments, in the harbor we saw massive yachts. Some of them were even for rent: € 500'000 / week, who is able to pay that?
Reluctantly we left our location on the sea in Bjelila. We drove through the bigger towns of Budva and Bar further south. We had to stop on a place, comfortable for the truck. We found a nice camping ground, close to the sea – place for the truck under olive trees and for us an apartment with a balcony. The camping ground was a meeting place for travelers going or coming to the south. The temperature of the sea was 22 degrees, so we went swimming every day. In the evening we visited the next bigger town close to Albania, Ulcinj. In the whole country, people were working on Sundays, shops were open there was market. The influence of Albania was noticeable, mosques enriched the townscape. People parked just the way they like to. No police around... nevertheless it was all peaceful. On the hill in the old town we had a nice view over the bay. But we didn't have enough time to enjoy it, as a pretty hard rain started and we had to get away from it in a restaurant. During our stay in the restaurant, it was raining hard. The result of it were torrents everywhere, power cuts, blocked outlet shafts and wet feet.
Skutari jezero-Virpazar-Krnjice-monk island
The Skutari lake has an area of 370 km2, the lake of Constance 536 km2. The lake is on the Montenegrin side a natural reservation and many different birds and ducks are living here.
Through the tunnel we very fast reached Virpazar, but it was clear, that we did not want to make a boat trip from this place. Here they tried to offer you everything from special excursion, to hotel to boat trip. So we kept on driving. The road became narrower, it was hard to pass just with one car. We decided on the way to go to the small village of Krnjice. We didn't know, what was going to expect us. Finally we found the place, around 5 houses next to the lake. With a few words in the local language, Theres got everything to work. She explained, that we would like to go with the boat on the sea. A price got fixed and on we went with an old, wooden motor boat. Here we could see how local people live, they don't earn much, go fishing, do gardening. So we hoped that they will be happy for the boat trip. The fisherman brought us on a small island, which we reached after 30 minutes, during which we observed the landscape and different birds, we arrived on the island. We noticed, that a monastery was on the island. The only monk noticed our arrival and welcomed us. He showed us the church and what he was doing on his daily work. Gardening, collecting fruit, making beautiful wooden crosses. We could see, how detailed he created the crosses, each of them was a unique. With different coping saws he was making the precision work. During the conversation he offered us fresh juice made out of pomegranate – awesome. We were sure, that the monk had enough to do on his island. This encounter showed us, what makes traveling to hidden places so interesting.
Then it was time to go back with the boat and later uphill again with our car. On the way back home we stopped on different places to enjoy the view over the lake and the mountains. At the latest on this place we know how beautiful Montenegro is. A jewel, who has to offer so many different things. Dobro Crna Gora!!
Stari Bar(old town Bar) and surrounding
Beatrice and Paul went on a small trip by themselves. Theres and Johannes had to get their truck ready.
We drove to the old town of bar, which was laying on the hills high above the sea. The houses and ruins were massive and solid built laying in between the mountains. If you know that Turks, Austrians and many more have been here in their times, so it is logical that they built the town in the mountains. We saw as well many cats, laying around and enjoying the day.
Next to the old town we saw big fields with olive trees – because of a disease, there were nearly no fruit on the tree. We had a fantastic view over the big port, the town and the bay.
In this short time, Crna Gora showed us many nice things. The visit was even better, as we met so many kind people, which helped us, where they could. They showed us the way, guided us to beautiful places and made us clear, that you can have a satisfied life with a simply style of life, a life which maybe is not as easy as ours. They don`t have that much money, but many people are working somehow and so get a chance, to earn some money. Helping is not a loanword to them.
We had a good time in Montenegro and we turned back to our daily routine with many good experiences. Crna Gora, you have shown and taught us a lot, Crna Gora you are a jewel – hopefully you will keep your qualities.
Theres and Johannes: Thank you, that we could do the trip together. It was an unforgettable time, sharing the impressions about the trip, exploring together a new country, sitting with you on the table, cooking with you and spending time with you. We are happy that we made this trip and got a chance to have a deep look into the country. We go back home with many good experiences – experiences you only get with traveling.