Friday, 17 July 2015


After a sleep in and lazy start, we had only a short drive to get to the Montenegrin border. Armed with all our papers for the car and most importantly our green paper (insurance), we joined the queue of vehicles waiting to be processed. We watched a Swiss car take ages at the barrier, then another one in front of us an eon to be processed and wondered what was in store for us. Surprisingly in less than a minute the papers were handed back with our passports but unfortunately no 'welcome to Montenegro' or even a smile!

We then headed up into the mountains for a tree change from all the beach side camping we had done. More of a track than a designated road but we were soon there, had our tent pitched under some lovely shade in no time at all and then sat back to enjoy the tranquility of the countryside. A small camp ground with only about 20 people and run by a lovely English couple - it was fun to sit around the communal table and have some great conversation in English at long last. At night the stars and satellites were very apparent without any street lights, and with very little passing traffic, all we could hear was the sounds of crickets in the trees, the hoot of a owl in the hills and the occasional bray of a nearby donkey.

Next day we headed our for a day of sight seeing, stopping at first in Herceg Novi to REGISTER for tourist tax and then to a bank to PAY our tourist tax for the duration of our stay here. So much for progress! We then followed the coast road around the bay and down in the very pretty town of Kotor. Yet another huge cruise liner was docked at the wharf with hoards of people everywhere so we pushed on further around the foreshore to a little restaurant perched right on the waters edge for a fabulous pasta and risotto lunch.

                                      Lunch on the edge of the water in Kotor, Montenegro


                  Folłwing the coast road around into Kotor - one small village runs into the next 

After lunch, we headed up to top of the mountains to visit the Njegosev Mausoleum, perched high on the hill at 1500ms. The road up contained 25 switchbacks and hairpins bends as we climber higher and higher - the good aspect was that we were continuously looking upwards and didn't dare look at the view over the edge until we got to a safe vantage spot. The view was breathtaking, the large cruise liner in the harbour looked more like the size of Kittani. But then we had to go back down 😩😩😩😩. This time we could see the drop! Thankfully there wasn't much traffic and we were able to go at snails pace and every so often find a small area to pull over and let the very impatient Montenegran drivers fly past. After we reached the bottom, Pete told me that over lunch he had googled the road up and it was listed on the worlds most dangerous drives. Glad I didn't know that before the trip.


                   Looking back down from on high after 25 switchback bends to get to the top


              Njegosev Mausoleum - 461 steps from the car park to reach the top for a great view


                     Our route up the mountain from Kotor - 26 switchbacks of nail biting driving!!

Leaving our tent pitched, we headed off up into the mountains in the north of Montenegro. Being such a mountainous country with rivers cutting valleys at the bottom, it can take some time to get from A to B. The roads often wind back and forward and sometimes seem to double back on each other. There are many tunnels along these roads dug through the mountain side, some nearly a kilometre long and others really only an arch. And the Montenegrin drivers are very impatient and intolerant of foreigners to say the least!! They race around these mountain roads as if they own them, playing leapfrog over any car they come up behind and often endangering other on road. They cut corners terribly and it is not strange to come around a corner and meet them coming towards you literally in the middle of the road. With a last minute swerve they do avoid you but it can be nerve wracking - no wonder car insurance companies generally charge an extra premium if you are driving here.

We made a stop at the small village of Pluzine at the base of the gorge to enjoy a panorama of the turquoise water before starting our climb again up the mountain. Once at the top, the scenery was quite different. We followed the winding track through wild flowers that were nearly taller than the car, then the area opened out into a panorama of majestic rugged mountains that were truly breathtaking. Out stop for the night was the village of Zabljak - a ski resort in Winter and a hikers delight in the Summer months. On the outskirts of town is Black Lake - a glacial lake sitting 1,416 m above sea level and fed by numerous mountain streams. A popular spot for tourists walking and cycling around the 3.5 perimeter. It took us an hour walking at a brisk pace and had some spectacular photo spots along the way - always a lovely setting surrounded by forestry and in the shadow of imposing mountains.


                        Some of the amazing mountain landscape in the north of Montenegro



                         The turquoise waters around the village of Pluzine in North Montenegro 


                                           Scenic Black Lake outside of Zabljak, Montenegro 


Next morning we headed off back south towards home with a first stop to see the Tara River bridge. A concrete arch bridge that sits 172m high and spans 365m across the Tara River. A popular tourist attraction here is zip linning across the gorge for those wanting an adrenalin rush. Launching from the forestry on one side to traverse the gorge 824m, the excited voices of the zip liner echoing up the valley. 


                                              Tara River bridge near Zabljak, Montenegro 


                                                 Looking from the bridge across the valley 


                          Enjoying the Montenegrin landscape  - a very picturesque country 


                               For someone with an aversion to heights, Pete has managed well 😄

We headed back to our camp for one more evening before crossing back into Croatia for an overnight ferry crossing from Dubrovnik to Bari, Italy. We have loved Montenegro (apart from the anx with the drivers), and enjoyed the mountains as well as the coast. The roads have generally been good, though some quite narrow in places and made for interesting moments. We have enjoyed the food which has a distinct Italian influence and even quite enjoy olives now. So now it's on to Italy for us as and the next stage of our holiday.

No comments:

Post a Comment