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Published: June 25th 2013
But watch out for Falling Rocks
What to say about a country which welcomed me with a stamp in my passport and a leaflet highlighting the statistics of the number of people that had died, been seriously injured, or had sustained other minor injuries through road accidents in 2009, complete with photographs? Ah, thanks, it’s great to be here too. And yes, I will follow your advice and slow down from the current 5.6km/h crawl.
Actually, I say that tongue in cheek but I really did slow down even further. I didn’t believe it was possible but yes, indeed, it sure was. But not initially. Yes the road climbed but it was manageable and skirted the Piva canyon. If I was awestruck in BiH then this feeling was likewise here in Montenegro. What an amazing sight. The canyon walls rising high and sheer and the Piva river down below and a tunnel at every turn, or so it seemed. Yes, lots of them. Initially just short ones, manageable without a light but then a particularly hairy one which made me feel a bit like a mole, ie blind except ofcourse without the sensibility of a mole. Hairier still because it was on a slight downhill. So
there I was, in the middle of a tunnel, unpacking everything, and repacking everything just to find my headtorch. All so I could shine my meagre light onto the tunnel’s surface all of 30cm in front of me. Useless really although it did make me feel better knowing that oncoming cars could see me, or something at least. Have I mentioned that I don’t like tunnels? Thankfully there were only several of the 400-500m variety. And the tunnels’ arches always framed the upcoming scenery so beautifully. Honestly, it was breathtaking in more ways than one.
My mouth was wide open in awe I think the whole way to Pluzine. When you think it can’t possibly get any better it does. Pluzine was the first town I got to where I could buy provisions. I was down to practically nothing with no idea what lay ahead and so I thought it best to head there first, stock up, have lunch and bypass my road to Zabaljak.
It was around about midday and blistering hot (stating a fact not complaining). The sign to the restaurant pointed down to the lake’s edge 400m. No, I’m not schlepping myself back up 400m.
Can you see the car in the middle?
Instead, I went to the supermarket and bought well, quite a bit. No surprises there. And, thought I would eat at the café/restaurant on the main road. No, no food. Honestly, I don’t know why these places call themselves restaurants. Instead I was helpfully pointed in the direction of the restaurant 400m downhill. No, still not going there. And, after a pop into the tourist information (where the front door was locked but the hidden side entrance open – what’s that about?) to gather some information (eg Trsa has a place to stay and is only (only!) 15km away) I went back to the picnic spot which I had passed on the way to town and had a lovely feed there overlooking the water and the climb ahead.
What a climb ahead indeed. As soon as the turnoff for Trsa and Zabljak appeared so did a sign indicating an incline of 10%. I can’t handle 10%, or if I can, it is only for 10m. It is just too steep at this stage. And so, for most of the remaining 11km I pushed Dragana uphill, only getting back on when I could feel some slight (and I mean slight!)
It's a long way down
relief in my arms which indicated an incline of less than 10% - but there wasn’t much of that. My guidebook mentions this particular road but instead of the ‘thrilling corkscrew descent into Piva, arguably one of the hairiest roads in Montenegro’ I got the reverse. I’m hoping that down to Zabljak I will be rewarded but I will still have two passes to get over before that…
By the time I got to Trsa, I was never so thrilled to see the ‘rather forlorn place’ as the guidebook describes it. Instead, this little straggle of houses, barely a hamlet in the middle of nowhere, was my oasis for two days and three nights.
I had terrible cramps the first night. I know I was dehydrated, even though I really tried to drink and keep hydrated throughout the day. My diet has been a struggle too. As well as my lack of fitness and training for mountains. Coupled with heat, well it’s not a great combination. It really does take me a couple of days to recover. Or maybe it’s just an excuse to stay put in a peaceful place.
But during those couple of days I’ve
had the absolute pleasure of, well:
a) doing nothing
b) seeing Maglic mountain from another side
c) meeting some really wonderful people from different parts of Europe and one couple in particular with fantastic stories of adventure in the name of snakes and other reptiles; and finally
d) feeling normal again (if there is such a thing that is)
Time is a wonderful thing and not just for healing. Tomorrow it’s back in the saddle though. The weather has changed and it’s cooler now. A Dutch couple told me that the weather is likely to go down to 13-15C in the next few days. There was also mention of rain. I’m not sure what to say. Best then not to say anything.
PS There was a British cycling group that came through Trsa. I looked at them with envy. The majority were so wiry, not an ounce of fat on them. How do they do it? Not like me obviously.
PPS If Jan and Piotr read this - thank you so much for making me change my plans. It really was worth the exhaustion!
Tot: 0.074s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 10; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0109s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb