The First 5 Weeks
Wow, 5 weeks have already passed. The first thing I noticed about Podgorica was the incredible views of the mountains in every direction. Even as the plane descended towards the Aerodrome Crne Gore airport, the views of the mountains were stunning. The flight from Vancouver was long, with 3 layovers and totaling 36hrs from first takeoff to final landing. I feel genuinely bad for the person that was stuck sitting next to me on the last flight from Belgrade to Podgorica, as I could smell myself and after such a long continuous journey, I stunk! Fortunately, the host of my first Airbnb stop was terrific, having a taxi ready and waiting for me to arrive. After a short ride to meet my host and getting introduced to my new home, for the next 4 weeks, I showered and then slept for a much needed 12 hours.
Now as I noted, the mountains around Podgorica are beautiful. I knew from my research that Podgorica was situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, but what I did not expect is the number public parks. The city is covered in Parks.
It seems as though you can walk from one side of the city to the other simply by traveling through the parks, only crossing toads and bridges in between. Now this is slightly hyperbolic, but nonetheless, the amount of parks is truly awesome. The apartment that I had been staying in for the first 4 weeks is located in the area of Podgorica known as Blok 5. The first thing I wanted to do was to walk east and spend some time by the river. I found that the city has many bridges that cross the river, including a couple walking bridges that traverse from one park to another located on opposite sides of the river. There is the Moscow Bridge, which is a fairly large pedestrian bridge, with covered benches to sit on. My personal favorite is the smaller pedestrian bridge just to the south of this. Google Maps names this bridge Most Gazela. My preference for this bridge is in the fact that as you get towards the middle of the bridge, you can feel in bouncing and moving with the weight and footsteps of the pedestrians crossing it. A little unnerving at first, but I find the
sensation rather fun.
On the east side of the Moraca River is the remnants of an old Roman Fort and small bridge. I understand that the bridge underwent reconstruction in the 18th century, which makes it less old by European standards, but for a Canadian such as myself, even structures dating back 300 years are much older than Canada and I find history such as this amazing. I was calling this the Old Ribnica Bridge, as it spans over the small Ribnica River right before the Ribnica feeds into the Moraca River, but have been informed by friendly locals that this area is known as Skaline or Sastavci. I have enjoyed many an afternoon in this area, sitting by the water, watching the occasional local old fisherman attempting to catch some fish. There was another afternoon while I was there that, i surmise, a local school field trip came down to the river to work on cleaning up some of the garbage littered around the area. This trip was rather interesting as they even had a man in a Scuba suit diving into the river to pull out garbage. Oddly enough, the diver was swimming in the exact
same back eddy that I have seen the fishermen use.
After my first couple weeks I finally ventured up to the park Ljubovic which is a hill just southeast of the Moraca River, in the heart of Podgorica. While there is a paved road that goes to the top of the hill and actually does a full loop around the top, it seems that the city keeps the gate closed which makes it a pedestrian and bicycle only road. I found many other people up there walking around and doing laps of the circle road at the top. As most of Podgorica is fairly flat, the views from the top of this hill are magnificent. With the backdrop of mountains beyond the edges of the city, in every direction. I was very content spend the rest of my afternoon up on the hill and take in the view.
The next area that I should mention is venturing into the Downtown, or Hoba Bapow. In fact, after my first four weeks at the AirBnb in Blok 5, I moved to a hotel in this area while I waited for access to my next 4 week AirBnb apartment
to become available. Here there are a few pedestrian only streets, with other small single-lane one-way driving streets. There are many pubs and restaurants in this area, with lots of storeo for shopping as well. It is a nice area of town and certainly comes alive during the evenings and on the weekends. As I like to travel light, shopping is not something that I am personally looking for. As I noted, I moved to a hotel in this area and there appear to be several hotels in this area of town, many with their own restaurants on the ground level. I should also note that breakfast at the restaurant was included with my stay. For reference, I stayed at the Boscovich Boutique Hotel.
Now, as I am on the topic of restaurants, I must note that the food I have had here has been great. Except for the pasta noodles, it seems that almost everywhere makes their food from scratch. The prices are also very reasonable. I had this plan when I came here that I would go grocery shopping and avoid restaurants except for maybe one or two times a week. I quickly learnt that at
most restaurants you can get a meal for less than 5 Euro, which has led to me going out for lunch or dinner much more often. Drinks are also reasonably priced at most places, costing on average 1.5 Euro for a 330ml pint to 2.5 Euro for a half liter pint of beer. Harder liquor seems to vary from about 2 Euro to 3 Euro per shot, but to be perfectly honest, I haven't been drinking this and may need to revise that information in a future blog.
So 5 weeks in and this is, I believe, a decent summarization. So far, aside from the taxi from the airport, I have only traveled by foot throughout Podgorica. My new AirBnb rental is situated in the part of town called Stari Aerodrom, which is on the opposite side of Podgorica and provides me with all new areas of the city to explore. Covid regulations within Montenegro made it so that I was not able to leave the city and explore other parts of the country, but honestly, Podgorica has so much to offer in the way of parks and scenery that this has provided me with a good amount of
time to see a lot of the city. These restrictions have been mostly lifted and I am just as excited for the next 4 weeks as the last 5. I have begun shopping for a bicycle and am planning to start riding this around the town to expand my exploration range. I am also planning to rent a car for a week in May and will head up into the mountains of Montenegro. I have been looking at these magnificent mountains for the weeks now and am itching to get myself out towards them. As for what's next after this? I will head to the coast and spend time on the Adrianic Sea. My Canadian Passport allows me to stay for 90 days and plan to stay for the full duration of this time.
As for future blogs, I am going to work on writing these more often. This will allow me to go into perhaps a little more detail about individual experiences that I have. This is my first blog and it seemed necessary for me to attempt to provide an overview of my journey so far. I hope you come along for the journey and perhaps
one day you may decide to come visit Montenegro yourself!
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