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MONTENEGRO    DIARY  2

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From the north western Montenegro, the adventure continues in Diary 2 with the south eastern.
2/6.
Despite I'm located under some nice orange trees, it is pits dark and the only sound is a distant nightingale, I just can't sleep. Finally, around three, I fall asleep, just to woke up at seven.
I head towards Perast, but first, I have to take a drive along the shoreline. It look like a lake, with the tall and steep mountains on all sides, but the huge ships indicate others.

Perast should be a Baroque city at a lakeside. I would rather describe it as an old village at a lakeside. It is not big, and although old, the houses are nothing special. But the view to the water - and into the water - is fantastic. Two small islands have each their monastery, and boats are more than willing to take me there - I'm not.
A bit strange to thing about: They started out there to be isolated. Now, they do everything to get people out on the tiny islands - just to make money.

I walk the shoreline, then I try to get into the town. But with exception of the little square, there are no back-roads at all. Despite I have paid for the entire day's parking, I fight my way back through the first bus-loads of eager tourists. I must have missed one group, as the one I meet first have big number "2" on each member and the guide's sign. Then number "3" passes through, and I flee.

 I head a bit into the mountains, but keep close to the water. Then I reach Kotor; a walled city at the coast. It is significantly bigger, and have a large modern part as well. Here are a lot of fine old houses, but also real narrow alleys, making photos almost impossible. No light and no distance. 

Never the less, I do enjoy walking around here among the old buildings, palms and mirror harbour. The walls are quite impressive, and continues up the mountains in the back. I do several loops, before I find my way back to the car, and set course for the real mountains.

The Kotor-Cetinje road leads through Lovcen National Park, and it is great. I stop so many times, to capture the views to the fjords and botanise. The GPS say 29 kilometres, 29 minutes - and show the most insane zigzag road. I think I spend three times as much time. Besides from the many different flowers, I find some real nice crickets.

It is a narrow and partly badly maintained road, but here are a bit of traffic. I passes some Germans several times, and in the end, they just follow me, and stop where I do. We reach the clouds, but it is just a thin layer. Then we are back in the sun, and the landscape turn more fertile. Up here, there are trees; beech, pines and some birch.

I find the plants I saw yesterday at the monastery, and it turns out to be some I have noticed before, just without flowers. But I still can't figure out what it is. Some bulbs look a lot like Drimia numidica. Then I reach the highlands, and the cast-mountains are almost barren.

Well, here are a lot of flowering herbs, and I almost slides way down the mountain side, while I try to get pictures. A flower-buck is seeking nectar, and I try to get a picture without ending in the sea!
Up in the high valleys, a few farmers are harvesting hay in small patches. Tiny patches are ploughed, and I guess it is for vegetables.

I reach the Njegos Mausoleum, and I'm not alone! The busses have to park lower, and I wonder how they got here? A staircase in a tunnel leads up to the peak of the mountain, and the views are fantastic. Different valleys, many flowering plants and a fantastic sky. I find a swallow-tailed butterfly, and try to get some good picture.

I head down the mountain on the other side, and this road is quite better. Near the top is a ski resort villages, and I guess this is where the busses go. I try not to stop too many times, as I have photos enough of the mountain - but it is hard not to!

I stop at a gas station, despite the needle is on half. But I have driven over 700 kilometres, and it might be an error. Then I notice the left front-tire is almost flat! I can hear the air leaking out fast. I must have hit something real recently. I ask the guys at the station, and they tell me a gommeria is just 500 meters down the road. Then I don't feel like fixing it myself - or change to spare. He have nothing else to do, and within minutes I pay 3 an head on. Fixed same way as I would; plug from the outside.

I reach the coast once more, and this time, I head towards Budva. It is yet another old, walled town, but found within a huge modern city. The coastline have almost a Monaco-vibe around it, but the old fortress holds the jewel: Old town.

Another set of narrow alleys, fine old houses and way too many souvenir shops and restaurants. But as a special feature, it also have a beach, packed with people, and a boardwalk, given a great view back to the walls. I crosses the little fortress several times, then I see the modern harbour with some large yachts, before I head back into the mountains.

I find Skadar Lake National Park, and head towards the old, little, humble village of Rijeka Crnojevica. Where Montenegro else have been so neat, this village holds several ruins, and it is scruffy in general. But at the same time, here are several restaurants, and a lot of boatmen trying to lure me out on the lake. They have the "drive", they just lack sufficient tourists.

I find the municipal camp, pay 10 and feel cheated right away. A week ago, the area was under the annual two meter of water, here are no hot water or internet - and only a curtain for the toilet and shower in a small shed. But, I'm here, and I spend 99,9% of the time in the car anyway.

I walk down to the river - through the mud. A group of gees and a few ducks consider it their territory, but the views are too great for me, to let them have it for them selves. Then I head back to the village. On the way, I pass a typical Soviet memorial thing.

It is hard to say, which houses are lived in, and which are abandon in Rijeka Crnojevica. Here are around 100 people in winter, 125 in the summer. Several rather big restaurants are located along the river, and some shops sell the usual honey and snaps.

I see the old bridge from 1842 and head over it, into the back-lands. Goats, hay and bushes. And some huge cross-spiders! Pomegranate and apple trees are flowering along with a lot of herbs. I return over another bridge, and while searching for leaf-frogs in the blackberry, I see the back or a tortoise, heading to bed in the thorny bushes.

Back at the car, I prepare dinner, but I figure I'm better off NOT washing the letish in the river-water. There were a slug and a caterpillar in the outer layers, so it might be organic anyway. While I eat, I see the back-half of a small snake, climbing under the car, through the open door. I try to grab it by the tail, as the camera is charging. But it slips away.

I had kind of expected this to be a quiet camp, but nightingales, the gees, toads and frogs along with other birds make it quite noisy. After dark, I get a real quick shower, and call it a bath. I will treat my self with a better camp in the morning, preferable one with a laundry. Somehow, I have over 550 photos to work with: Montenegro is so great!

Perast, Kotor, Lovcen National, Highlands, Njegos Mausoleum, Old Budva, Skadar Lake NP and Rijeka Crnojevica.

3/6. I have now spend five years outside Denmark - and continues. I have a hard time talking my self out of bed and into a cold shower. Actually, I only get up close to nine, by promising myself NOT having a shower. It is so quiet, except from swallows, sparrows, pigeons, tits, blackbirds, flycatchers, some small singers and an odd one, I don't recognises.

The targets for the day is a huge detour through some mountains, way out in the east, then into Albania and the other end of this lake. I start with a "shortcut" over the mountains to another part of the lake in Skadar Lake National Park. It is just so beautiful here, and I make slow progress.

I see deer and a hedgehog, who almost gets away before I remember; I want a photo. The road is real narrow, but generally well sealed. I hardly meet anyone, but here are a few scattered houses all the way. Then I reach a bigger road and the huge Skadar Lake.

I find the bridge, crossing the lake, and halfway, I pass an old fortress. On the other side, the large and highly modern city of Podgorice is found. Despite it is Sunday, here are a lot of activity. Road and houses are build, shops are open and people are driving around.

I pass right through, except from a bit of shopping, and on the other side, I find another mountain road. It follow the Moraca valley, along the Moraca river. The river is dark turquoise, the nature fantastic, and I have to pull my self together not to stop way to many times. I do a longer stop at a restaurant to get some grilled vegetables and internet.

The valley end at the Moraca Monastery, and I do a short stop. From the outside, it look like it is around 4-500 years, but inside, it is real dark, covered in paintings and thick with smoke from the offering candles, giving it a 1000 year old appetence.

On the other side of the over 1000 meter high pass, the mountains are significantly more green. Here, they are covered in leaf-forest, and it starts to rain heavily. The road turns into a river, the sights disappears, but somehow, I still enjoy the drive.

It clears up again, and I find another mountain road.  It leads from Kolasin to Andrijevica, and passes through some real nice areas. Then it flattens out, and I set the GPS for the Albanian border. I get caught by a radar ten kilometres before, doing 68 on a 60 road. I thought it was 80, but that doesn't help.

 The officers are real nice, and one actually apologies for writing me up, but their radar have a video build in. I get a fine of 34 and a handshake. Guess I have been lucky on the first 20.000 kilometres anyway. This last part of Montenegro have been a poor part, but clean and nice to travel in. Skader Lake NP, Moraca Valley, Eastern Montenegro.

I have spend only four days in Montenegro, and it is surely one of the countries I would consider returning to one day. I have driven 913 kilometres, and taken 1511 photos: A clear indication of; here are pretty. I have only spend 119, including the speeding ticket. From here, I head into Albania.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2