trip could not have started more chaotic. First the taxi driver had
forgotten about us but at least he called us he would be a bit later.
Whilst waiting in front of Stephan’s house another taxi passed by so we
decided not to take any chance and grab that one instead.
minutes later we arrived at Koln-Bonn airport to find a large queue in
front of the check-in counters. Apparently all systems were down and the
only thing we could do was patiently wait, hoping our flight would do
the same. Suddenly things started moving and passengers for Dubrovnik
were called forward. After checkin we rushed through security and
customs and made it to our gate just in time.
Thirty minutes later than scheduled we took off for the flight to Dubrovnik, by now it was finally time to relax…
arrival we picked up our rental car and made our way to Kotor, our
first destination in Montenegro. Immediately both of us were blown away
by the environment, the mountains coming so close to the water, the
cypresses and the abundance of green. We had not expected it to be that
road was not very wide in spite of being the main connection between
Croatia and Montenegro. Not long after leaving the airport we arrived at
the border which which we first noticed when we had to join a long
queue. It took us ages to cross the border, well at least we thought we
crossed it but not much later we had to join another queue which made us
realize we had only passed the Croatian part.
the Montenegro part went smooth and not much later we were on the road
again. It did not take long before we got a first glimpse of the
stunning emerald bay of Kotor, beautifully surrounded by mountains from
the narrowest side we grabbed a ferry for a short crossing. Instead of
taking the main road we turned left and followed the shoreline of the
bay passed the picturesque villages of Stoliv and Prcanj.
much later we arrived in Kotor and found our guesthouse where we were
welcomed by a very friendly lady. After unpacking we went for a well
deserved afternoon nap, the lack of sleep was catching up on us now.
awake we went to the shoreline for a swim and to catch the first bit of
sun. It was a welcome and refreshing change from a long day of
traveling. We treated ourselves on a Montenegrin wine and beer after
which we returned to our guesthouse to wash the saltwater away and enjoy
the second nap of the day.
sunset we walked into Kotor, which was like a time-travel back to a
Europe of moated walled towns with shadowy lanes and stone churches on
every square. Squeezed between the mountains and the bay, and overlooked
by the ruins of a majestic ford it that special atmosphere. Not
unexpectedly Stari Grad, the old town, was now housing a large
collection of souvenir shops and restaurants but still we loved the cozy
atmosphere. To make it even more dramatic at almost every corner music
students were playing both classic and modern music which really added
to the atmosphere.
a quiet narrow lane we enjoyed a craft beer after which we returned to
our guesthouse and annoyed the silence of our terrace before calling it a
day. It had been a long one and both of us started to notice the lack
morning we decided to backtrack to the ferry and close the loop around
the bay of Kotor. The day before we saw some scenic villages but we were
too tired to really enjoy it.
first stop was the village of Stoliv. A small selection of picturesque
houses, concrete piers where people were bathing and the unavoidable
church which could not be missed as every village had at least one. The
village was simply picture perfect and we loved it to bits. A simple
lifestyle perhaps but something definitely worth it, at least now during
the summer season.
our visit to the church Stephan pointed out some original drawings on
the outside walls, made by the architect. They were originally used to
instruct the workers on how to build the interior details.
to the church was a small graveyard and from everywhere we had a
stunning view over the gorgeous bay. At one point we stopped at one of
the road side cafe’s and enjoyed two Turkish coffees whilst overlooking
the bay and the boats passing by.
stop was the village of Prcanj where we took some more time to breath
the local atmosphere. By now we could have a good view over two islands
in the bay, Sveti Dorde and Ostrvo where a church was located. Boat taxi
services were offered but we decided to skip.
wait for the ferry was not as long as the day before and five minutes
later we found ourselves disembarked at the other shoreline. From there
we moved on and followed the shoreline till our next stop, the Roman
mosaics at Rivan.
the place where the mosaics were found an old villa was build at
settlements that go back to the third century. Not much of the original
building was left but fortunately we could still get a good view of the
mosaics which were in prestine condition.
continued our journey till we found a place which offered a close look
at the two islands we saw before and after we parked the car we found
out by coincidence that we were walking distance from the baroque town
of Perasta. So we continued our way on foot and admired the crowded and
touristy, but extremely beautiful city. In order to get a good look from
above we climbed the bell tower and at times we had to be careful not
to bang our heads. The climb was worth it and we thoroughly enjoyed the
scene that was to be admired from the top floor.
was time to take a rest, enjoy a beer and watch the world pass by. It
had been a lovely day so far indeed and we were not even done. After we
returned to our car we drove back to Kotor where Stephan went for a
continued to the old town to make some pictures as I had not brought my
camera the day before. It was wonderful to stroll through the little
alleys filled with terraces and watch people done or have a drink. Life
was good indeed in Kotor, at least during the summer months, I can
imagine the place gets a bit isolated when weather is bad and not much
is going on.
I could not find back the main church we visited yesterday but just
when I was ready to give up I saw the impressive dome and made my way to
it through the labyrinth of narrow alleys.
during the evening we went to a restaurant outside town where we
enjoyed a fantastic seafood platter. It was the perfect ending of a
morning after breakfast we checked out, packed our car and hit the road
again to the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica. After we had entered our
destination into the navigation system we hit the road. We left the bay
of Kotor behind us and started to climb the swirling roads.
was breathtaking but somehow the road was not as dramatic as expected.
As soon as we came close to Budva we realized our navigation system had
led us by the coastal road instead of the much shorter and even more
scenic road through the mountains. Perhaps this one was the more
continued our journey to Cetinje, the former capital, and then decided
to backtrack the way to Kotor, but now on the old road as originally
planned. By taking the coastal route we had missed out on Lovcen
National Park and this was something we definitely wanted to see.
limestone mountains were breathtaking indeed and the car was filled
with umhs and ahs after every corner we took when another view on the
stunning scenery was revealed. The area was breathtaking indeed and much
greener than anticipated.
systems are programmed to take the best route so still we did not make
it to where we actually wanted to go. Fortunately a bit of fumbling with
the Garmin and creative thinking later we finally did find the road to
the Njegos Mausoleum we wanted to see and soon we were off again, this
time in the right direction.
were led to the old mountain road (the one we initially wanted to take)
and soon we drove through beautiful forest area. There was a lot of
adventure sports going on and we could immediately see why. The area was
started to climb again and now could see the mausoleum high on a
mountain top. Once again we were lucky and found a parking spot close to
where the stairs were that was the final ascend to the mausoleum. To
make things easier an 80 meter long tunnel was carved through the
mountain and once we came out of that one we were blown away by the
panorama around us. It was simply breathtaking! We could almost see all
of Montenegro from here and only another mountain was blocking the views
of the Adriatic coast.
did not need to use our imagination to see where Montenegro got it’s
name as the major part was very mountainous. I decided to have a look at
the mausoleum whilst Stephan remained behind to admire the scenery.
Inside a large statue was placed in a room with a golden mosaic roof and
through a narrow staircase I was led to another room that housed the
the mausoleum another viewing platform was created from where I could
even see the bay of Kotor. We indeed had taken the long way to get here
but then we were on a holiday and had tremendously enjoyed the journey
so who cares.
top of the tunnel we found the old path that led to the mausoleum. Lots
of staples of stones were created over here, something I had seen in
the Himalayas before but had not expected here.
backtracked the old road to Cetinje and from there continued to
Podgorica. Getting close to there we were amazed by a gigantic plain
that was hidden between the mountains. Weird to see such a flat stretch
of land surrounded by mountains from every side. This time it was not
difficult to find our way to our guesthouse and after checking in we had
had done some research and found out the best restaurant in town was
Pot Volat, not far from where we were staying so we decided to go there.
The place was packed but still we were able to get a table and ordered a
mixed grill that was advertised for two but could easily have fed a
complete family. On a small mountain of homemade a dead zoo was created
with loving care. An overdose of meat prepared in all kind of varieties.
Spiced sausage, cevapcici, Schnitzel, pork skewer, just to mention a
small part of the selection… perhaps a bit too much but each piece of
meat was cooked to perfection.
we left the place our stomachs were about to explode but we made it
back to our guesthouse in one piece. To tired from eating so much food
we called it a day and soon found out sleeping on a full stomach was
never a good idea but a guarantee for a restless night ahead.
morning it was time to move on again. As soon as we had left the centre
of Podgorica we hit a well maintained road so we could really make
progress. The surroundings were absolutely stunning and it seemed we
were following a valley that was meandering below us. After about 50
kilometers we left the highway and descended into the valley and ascend
again at the other side.
were now approaching the Ostrog monastery, one of the 4 most important
religious centers in Montenegro. First we stopped at a small church that
was covered with fresco’s. Someone was reciting from the holy script
and religious people were saying there prayers and kissing the relics,
as usual in orthodox churches.
was a peaceful place located in a beautiful courtyard. We strolled
around a bit before we continued our ascend to the monastery. It was
build 200 meters high on to a cliff and even from below it already
looked spectacular, as if someone had glued a building onto a wall.
had to climb the last bit to the monastery on foot and once we reached
the square in front of the monastery we saw a large queue of pilgrims
waiting in line to enter the monastery. Having come that far we decided
to join the queue which slowly progressed while enjoying the
breathtaking scenery below us.
we made it to the entrance and were guided into a small room, where the
walls were covered with frescos. Only a couple of people were allowed
in at a time into the small room and an orthodox priest was guarding an
open coffin with what must have been the remainders of someone
important. Although all of the pilgrims kissed the remainders I thought a
respectful bow would be enough, which resulted in a disapproving look
of the priest but I simply was not willing to extend my level of
admiration to kissing a covered dead body.
climbed up the stairs inside the monastery and came into an area which
was filled with mosaics. Also from here we had stunning sights over the
square below and the surrounding valley. Before we left I visited
another chapel that was used for burning candles, a great atmosphere
with the walls and roofs blackened from the smoke.
continuing I paid one last visit to a church a few hundred meters down
the road where I witnessed a baptizing ceremony and then we were on the
time I did not see much as I fell asleep whilst Stephan was driving. I
woke up when he parked the car at the parking area in front of Piva
monastery. It did not look very impressive from the outside I must
admit. In the seventies the monastery had been carefully broken down
stone by stone and then rebuild 30 kilometers from it’s original
location. It had to be moved as a dam was built further on they would
drown the monastery. The whole process of breaking down and rebuilding
took over 12 years.
unimpressive sight from the outside was a deception because as soon as
we entered the interior we were blown away by the impressive fresco’s.
There was not a single piece of wall not covered by them. The
restoration work had been carefully done and one could hardly see a
trace of it.
to the main hall there was another room, equally impressively
decorated. The whole place was simply stunning and it’s interior left a
much deeper impression than the Ostrog monastery, so it was even more
surprising the Piva monastery was not flooded with crowds.
continued our way and the landscape developed even more dramatic. A
beautiful green lake was on the side of the road, tall mountains covered
with a thick layer of green. It was absolutely stunning.
were numerous tunnels carved into the mountain walls that we had to
pass before we arrived at the dam which had initiated the move of the
Piva monastery. On arrival it did not look impressive but once we drove
over the dam we could see down the 200 meter deep gap where the Tara
river was flowing.
was not far now to the border with Bosnia Herzegovina and after the
formalities on both sides were cleared we finished the last two
kilometers to our camp. There we checked in and were shown our cute
little bungalow which would easily have fitted a dog or two…
it was time to relax and enjoy a beer. We met a nice German couple from
Hamburg so we decided to have dinner together, chat and enjoy a couple
of beers. Later that event we returned to our doghouse for a well
a good sleep it was, although I woke up several times and had to look
for “the second tree at the left” to get rid of some excess beer. After
breakfast was it was time to move to the shed where all rafting
equipment was stored to get our gear.
our guide seemed to be a really nice guide, full of jokes. He drove us
for 20 minutes to the start point where we took the raft of the jeep and
performed the final preparations. All was done very thorough and
professional, it made a good impression.
raft was then launched into the crystal clear water of the Tara river
and we were allowed to board. Our journey had begun. I do not know what
was more fun, the rafting itself or the spectacular, almost untouched
surroundings. One pair of eyes were simply not enough to absorb the
beauty surrounding us.
our journey we had to conquer 21 rapids but as the water level was not
as high as in rainy season most of theme were very moderate. A lot of
fun without the dangers that normally come with the more exciting
rapids. Ivan told us in spring the situation was completely different
and at that time of the year the river was only accessible for highly
trained rafters. Even they would not be able to complete the journey
without flipping the raft at least once.
today things were peaceful. The sun was shining, enhancing the stunning
surroundings even more. The rapids were big fun. Quiet enough to remain
safe but still wild enough to cover us with big amounts of water. The
silence of the area was then only broken by our laughter of sheer joy.
one point we stopped to jump of the cliffs. I choose the highest one of
9 meter and immediately regretted my choice the moment I jumped. A big
splash later I landed in the water having a big smile on my face having
crossed another limit.
continued our journey and everybody was just mesmerized by the
surroundings. Our next stop was an improvised bar close to a waterfall
which was another point of sheer pleasure. Although we were already
soaking wet no one could resist a shower in the freezing waterfall.
stop was at a bridge which was another opportunity for a jump. Although
I initially wanted to jump I decided not to when I stood on top of the
15 meter high bridge. This was a line I was not going to cross.
Unfortunately our journey came to an end far to early for our liking.
at camp we showered, had a late lunch and then had to wait far to long
for the pictures of our adventure. Finally we left on our 220 km long
journey that lay ahead of us. First we backtracked the route to
Podgorica and at times I could really make up for some lost time.
Stephan was sleeping and by the time he woke up we already passed Ostrog
Monastery. A quick coffee, a bite to eat and we hit the road again.
we had not started until 17:30 sun was already setting and it was
getting dark quickly. Fortunately we could make a shortcut through a
long tolled tunnel which helped us avoid the mountains separating the
plains of Podgorica and the coast. As soon as we got out the tunnel we
were stuck in a traffic jam through an extremely busy coastal town.
Fortunately we could speed up again once we excited the town and around
10 pm we finally arrived in Ulcinj.
most Montenegrin beach resorts it was flooded with people. Not knowing
where to go and the additional confusion caused by the navigation system
caused a lot of stress between Stephan and myself. Finally I found a
parking spot from where I called the owners of our guesthouse. They were
very friendly and helpful and send someone out to help us.
left Stephan behind and made my way to Stari Grad, the old town. It was
surrounded by a party area which was packed with people like there was
no tomorrow. There was such a crowd on the streets it was difficult to
find my way and I started to wonder whether we had made the right
decision to come here. After asking a couple of times I finally made it
to the boulevard. It was definitely party town, cramped with bars,
disco’s and people dancing on top of tables. Not really what we were
finally found a way up to the old town but in spite of a couple of
calls could not find the guy that was sent out for rescue. But then I
unexpectedly found Guesthouse Susanna, an oasis of rest in an small and
atmospheric historic town surrounded by a world going crazy… Ennis the
guy still out there somewhere and waiting for me called me once again
and when I told him I found the place he returned.
it was time to pick up Stehan so we backtracked all the way. More than
an hour after I left him I was back with Stephan clearly in distress. I
managed to calm him down and the three of us drove through a labyrinth
of streets towards the old town. It was surprising we made it to a
parking lot close to our guesthouse. From there we had to carry our
suitcases over the cobbled streets and finally, around 11:30 pm we
checked in. Hours later than planned and completely exhausted.
apartment though was stunning and after two beers each to calm down
from our distress we went to bed for a well deserved and needed sleep.
It had been a long, and in the end extremely stressful day.
morning we had a bit of a sleep in and whilst I was updating my journal
Stephan went shopping for breakfast. By the time we finished breakfast
it was noon. The heat was tremendous and not very inviting to go out.
Stephan wanted to go to the beach but I decided to stay behind and sleep
a bit more. I was woken up by stumbling at the door and Stephan
returned. When I asked him why he was back so early he mentioned it was
almost 18:00… I had slept all afternoon, guess I must have needed it.
that evening I went out for dinner. Being so close to the sea I went to
a fish restaurant. As Stephan was not very hungry I went on my own and
found a lovely spot overlooking the Adriatic sea.
was a special evening as the moon would be totally covered. From where I
sat I not only had a stunning view over the bay but I could clearly see
the spectacular process of the moon being covered bit by bit. It took
about an hour before it was completely red, making the evening darker
than usual. In the mean time I had eaten a wonderful fish soup, mussels
in tomato sauce and was now ready to order the main, fried octopus. The
local wine was ok but not spectacular. Overall I really enjoyed this
at our guesthouse I chatted a bit with Stephan before going to bed. It
had been an extremely lazy day but I had no problems falling asleep.
started the next morning with a sumptuous breakfast that we had ordered
the day before. It was a good start of the day and we felt energized to
explore the old city of Ulcinj.
ancient Stari Grad is still largely residential and somewhat
dilapidated – a legacy of the 1979 earthquake, which is part of its
charm. It really does feel old, a fact reinforced by its uneven
cobblestones and the paucity of street lighting at night. It used to be a
stronghold of the Pirates of the Mediterranean.
one of the towers we could look down at the bay and see the packed
beach. There were more bodies than sand to be admired and every inch of
the place seemed to be used. In the evening it turns into one big
entertainment area with loud music and lights. Fortunately our
guesthouse is on the other side and we can sleep quietly.
the Stari Grad was rather compact and there were no churches or mosques
to be admired we were done in an hour or so. We returned to our
guesthouse, grabbed our things and picked up the car for the 25 km drive
to Stari Bar, the old city of Bar.
major part of the road we backtracked the route that we had already
driven on our way to Ulcinj. Then we headed not the mountains to the old
city which now was not much more than a collection of ruins.
it’s best times, in the early 16th century about 4000 people loved over
here. Several wars and earthquakes brought the city into the ruins that
it is today, but even the big earthquake of 1979 could not destroy the
arches, a true masterpiece of the Ottoman Turks that still dazzles the
world till today.
was wonderful to walk through the ruined city and fantasize of times
long gone by. Some buildings had already been restored but it was
obvious this city would never return to it’s former glory.
of taking the main road back we decided to take a more mountainous
route to the old ruins of Svac. Once we got there we found out we had to
walk quit a long way which was not very inviting in this heat so
therefor we skipped it and returned to Ulcinj.
relaxed at our terrace, enjoyed a beer and chatted a bit. Stephan had
reserved a table at a small restaurant overlooking the Adriatic and we
still had some time to spare until 20:00.
restaurant was run by a small family and we had a great view over the
Adriatic Sea. Whilst the sun was setting we zipped a glass of homemade
wine and shared a plate of grilled calamaris. As a main cause we choose
grilled dorado and the cat who joined the balustrade next to our table
seemed to be as eager for the fish as we were. A glass of homemade
schnapps completed a fantastic dinner that we thoroughly enjoyed.
morning we enjoyed breakfast at our balcony after which we headed south
to the border of Albania. After we passed Velika Plaza we crossed a
bridge over the river to Ada Bojana, as peculiar a place as one is
likely to find in Montenegro. It was formed around a shipwreck between
two existing islands in the river mouth, which eventually gathered
enough sediment to cover around 520 hectares and create 3km of sandy
was former Yugoslavia’s famous ‘natural’ beach… The good thing was
that is was much less crowded than the other beaches where deckchairs
were setup without hardly space in between to walk.
had a couple of good swims and worked very hard on our tan. It was a
very lazy day. We weren’t the only ones returning from the chain of
beaches as we journey a long traffic jam that had formed around the
coastal route. Fortunately things started to speed up once we passed the
beaches and we made it in time to Ulcinj before 8 o’clock when the main
road towards the harbour parking space was blocked.
That evening we enjoyed a simple meal at our balcony and enjoyed the views over the Adriatic.
morning it was time to pack and hit the road again. Initially we
thought about visiting Albania but then decided against it. As soon as
we had left Ulcinj we hit a traffic jam, something that seems to be
inevitable around the Montenegrin beach areas.
beaches are magnets to people from all over south east Europe and most
of them are so packed you can hardly see any soil between the deck beds
which are set up so close to each other it is almost impossible to walk
between them. Totally not,our thing so in spite of having time enough we
decided to skip the beaches and just head north.
scenery was breathtaking, mountains on one site, the Adriatic at the
other. Magic would be an understatement to describe the area around us.
passed Bar and hit another traffic jam after which we continued to
Sutomore. Also over there the crowds were massive so we headed on.
of the pearls of Montenegro without doubt is the peninsula of Sveti
Stefan. We were lucky enough to have a good view of it a couple of
times. Entrance is totally restricted to those with a very big wallet as
it is now turned into a luxury resort.
afternoon we arrived in Hercig Novi, our last stop in Montenegro. We
found our apartment in the outskirts of the old town and after checking
in headed to the center. There we were surprised with an intense
thunderstorm, rain and hail. A good excuse to stop at a cafe and enjoy a
that evening we returned to the city center, strolled around a bit
whilst the sun was setting and choose a nice restaurant for dinner. I
could not resist a mixed fish platter and a local wine. The perfect way
to finish of a perfect stay.
good night sleep and it was time to say goodbye to Montenegro. The
border was only 10 km away and after having cleared the Montenegrin side
we joined another queue to enter Croatia. We were now ready for part
two of our holiday.
Continue the journey in Croatia