Enjoy the Heat!

Europe » Montenegro » Podgorica
July 11th 2012
Published: July 22nd 2012
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When I was planning the trip to Exit in Novi Sad, Serbia, I decided that it’d be nice to have a couple of days in the neighbouring Montenegro on the seaside. I shared my thoughts with Vasia, a friend of mine, and he suggested joining me on the trip. The thing is, I found the very cheap air tickets to Beograd via Montenegro, less than 200 Euro both ways from Moscow, though with 2 transfers (in Podgorica and Tivat), and the early morning departure was a bit inconvenient (we had to sleep at the airports). But now, as I’m putting down the experiences, I feel complete satisfaction. Exit was perfect, and Budva was perfect.

To begin with, a brief account of Podgorica, the largest city of Montenegro. I’d perhaps say that a traveler has nothing to do there, except see a couple of sights and perhaps learn the local language and take the connecting flights, because the main attraction of Montenegro is, of course, the sea coast, and the mountains (perhaps I’ll go a-trekking there some day). Podgorica does not have much to excite the sophisticated traveller’s mind.

We arrived to Domodedovo airport in advance, in the evening, because otherwise we’d have to take a taxi or wait for the 6.00 Aeroexpress and run the risk of missing the flight (in that case, we’d arrive at 6.40, to have only 40 minutes before the check-in end). Taking risks with flights is not worth the candle, and anyway I planned to find an electric socket for my laptop and work a little. There were lots of people sleeping in various positions and on various places (seats or the floor) in the airport and we, at last, found the socket (a man was using it and left in about an hour). While I worked, Vasia searched the web, and we also checked whether it was possible to change Russian Rubles in Beograd. Unfortunately, the internet sources said roubles were hard to exchange in Beograd, the more so in Podgorica. It so happened that neither of us exchanged currency in the city, and airport exchange rates are awful and robbing. But finally we exchange them, just to have no trouble abroad.

In the aircraft, I most surprisingly fell asleep even before the aircraft took off! I was waiting for takeoff in my dreams and awoke when food was being served – not too tasty. Two women nearby spoke all the time spoiling my sleep and making me frustrated because I hate listening involuntarily to others’ talk.

Podgorica airport is small and we saw the ridges enclosing the city. Montenegrin mountains are not high. At the passport control, we saw the famous Russian boxer Nikolai Valuev. I was puzzled to see him in the same queue with ourselves, because he’s a VIP. Though a man of his physique hardly needs any escort, or may be the airport does not have facilities for VIPs, or may be it was his own choice – to feel a simple man.

There is no public transport to the city centre so a taxi is indispensable. We read about it in the web, and I even made a booking, to which the reply came too late (I booked it just two hours before the flight) – we took the more expensive taxi. When you order it by phone, the price is twice lower. As an alternative, there is a train station not very far away from the airport, but its timetable did not suit us.

Now I will criticize the use of English whenever and wherever one can. Montenegro is a Slavonic country, and its population speaks its own language. Naturally, English is universal, but not everybody must speak it. For example, Montenegrin taxi drivers do not have to learn English. But Vasia said some English phrases to him which annoyed me. I’d rather prefer explaining by gestures or signs or whatever. The advisable option, certainly, is to learn the essential phrases in the local language. Anyway, it’s a disputable issue. One might ask, why do I write English travel blog, being a Russian? That’s easy, because I need practicing it and writing in Russian is not in the least bit inspiring for me.

The taxi driver left us near Mercator trade centre where we bought some foodstuff. We walked in the very hot sun and my skin was burnt. On the Trg Republike, when Vasia asked me to take a picture of him, I bent down, and my photo camera fell out of the bag and got spoiled. Something happened with its focus, and a disgusting black spot now appears on many photos, and there is a crack in the lens. I’m most aggrieved by that. I’m a bit pressed for money now to have it repaired… The whole city seems full of some insects buzzing incessantly, filling all the trees.

The worthy sights are the Millennium Bridge, Crkva St. George, and some parks. While searching for the crkva, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves in a dead end. As I was 100% sleepy and tired, I suggested rest and having a bite (juice and cookies), there was also a peach tree, I tasted some.

Our firm intent then was to escape from the ardent heat and slumber. We slept on a bench in the park, close to the Moracha River, and refreshed ourselves in the water.

Quite unexpectedly, we came upon a monument to A.S. Pushkin, the Russian poet. It was a gift to the city of Podgorica from the city of Moscow. The other events that happened were visiting Mercator centre again, strolling to the railway station (it is possible to take the passing train to the airport but again we did not fit the schedule), and taking a taxi for 10 Euro.

On arriving to Beograd, we consulted the bus timetable and, unwilling to wait for more than an hour, ordered a taxi for 1500 dinars. The mighty Mercedes took us to Trg Slavija in mere 20 minutes (the driver seemed to show off, because he drove quite fast). I’ve been to Sun Hostel last year, but forgot the way, so we asked a lot of people and roamed many a wrong street before finally turning up at the hostel and I fell asleep instantly. Vasia would stay in Beograd till the 16th, I’d go to Novi Sad in the morning, and we’d meet at Beograd Autobuska Stanica on the 16th July. I could not stay in Beograd to walk with Vasia, because, first, I’ve already seen the city, and, second, I had to continue working with my translations.

Additional photos below
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Pushkin monumentPushkin monument
Pushkin monument

a gift to Podgorica from Moscow

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