EPILOGUE OF MONTENEGRO
20 July 2015 | TOURING MONTENEGRO
I was going to write a very brief history of Montenegro, just so you don't think these blogs are getting too fluffy, but...egads!. That's just not possible, given how complicated their history is. So, Nancy, and anyone else who is interested, you're on your own.
Before we arrived, we weren't sure how long we would be staying since we didn't have much advance info. Ken suggested renting a car for a day, which turned into two days of driving around and exploring.
Phil and Leigh wrote yesterday's blog about driving to Lake Skadar and taking the boat trip. Phil's highlight was diving off the boat and going for a swim. Mine was the 'free' (included in the $24 euro price) traditional snack which we were served while waiting for the boat: 2 doughy, sugar coated, greasy balls (think zeppole from the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy in NY) which then became 4 each. They were poison but delish. The drive there took us through Montenegro for the Montenegrins. We drove through residential areas where everyone has a small farm or vineyard on their small property, and a roadside farm stand (with watermelons the size of small cars!) It was Saturday morning, and the locals were just doing what they do: shopping, hanging around, chatting, selling their goods, etc. On the way back, we took the coastal road which is being developed for the upmarket tourists: Resorts, hotels, restaurants and cafes and...lots and lots of traffic on the very small road which was not built for all of this development.
On Sunday, we went to the marina office to get some ideas for our day's journey. The young girls sort of indicated there wasn't much to see within a few hours drive in the other direction besides the old city of Kotor. Never mind! The Captain brilliantly decided to drive to Kotor via the north route. This was where the locals vacation. As we had seen in Croatia, there were few hotels...mostly apartments for rental. The road was one lane with a twelve inch ditch on the side, and we were hoping we were driving in the correct direction...but it was actually a two-way road! The real fun was when a big bus passed us. I breathed in, hoping to make us smaller. (I hate to tell others what to do but, filling in the ditch would be a good idea, in my humble opinion.) Everyone was out on the 'beach' which consists of concrete slabs for one, two, or as many as can fit...and they're all splayed out, catching rays (a dermatologist's delight') The scenery itself is spectacular, with the fjord-like bay flanked by massive mountains.
Kotor's old city is beautifully maintained, and the shops have more handmade, arty wares than some of the other old cities we've seen. Truth to tell, we did bypass the highlight of Kotor: 1500 steps to climb to the fortress in 98 degrees where we would be able to see everything including Italy. We will have to see Italy from Italy. I sometimes have regrets when I don't do something. I won't on this one.
We continued the drive along the Bay of Kotor, which the guidebooks describe as the most beautiful bay in the world. I tend to stay away from superlatives, but it does rank up there.
Our kemosabe (Captain Ken) noticed a car ferry which would cut out some driving. It turned out to be the bargain of the day, 4.50 euros and a fun experience. Once on the other side, the adventure began, for real. There was a peninsula which seemed like a good idea to explore. Even Ken, with a GPS for a brain couldn't figure it out. There were no street names and what seemed like an easy circumnavigation of a small peninsula flanking the water took us hours and hours, along goat paths, down to big resort areas on, once again, one-lane roads, with lots of backing up to allow the cars to pass. The most amazing thing is that these cars have no dents! There were times where we cleared with an inch or two. It is hard to explain this but there are many beaches and resorts being built...all with a one-lane road leading down, with cars parked on both sides in every direction, and no turning circle at the bottom. And, except for us, no one seemed to think this is odd. The word must have been out to watch out for the red Chevy because, it did seem like everyone deferred to us, and one elderly gentleman actually stayed with us and assisted for five minutes while Ken finessed a U-turn in a spot which didn't seem possible. One of the blessings of travel is in the people you meet. In the end, another wrong turn took us to a kiosk where the young man drew a map and VOILA! That was our ticket out. WHEW!
We're heading to Italy today, so we'll probably be out of touch for a few days.