View from our hostel
In my last post I said I was Skadar Lake bound the following day. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I changed my mind. Instead I took the bus up to Centinje, the ‘royal’ capital of Montenegro to catch a glimpse of a Henry Moore exhibition they had there. You would too if it was only an hour away. And so I stayed another night in Podgorica (yes, another night!!!) to do this. Confident that the gallery would be open after being told that in Montenegro public offices are not open on the weekend as people don’t like to work on the weekends and so it was best to go on Monday.
I’m sure you know what happened next. First off, there was nothing, no flyers in windows, NOTHING, to indicate that this exhibition was on. Also no signs leading to a tourist information office. Even the lady in a shop when I asked her if she knew the gallery where the exhibition was showing her the gallery name didn’t know. As it turns out it was directly opposite her. But, an hour later walking around town I finally found someone who knew! Yay! But I don’t know which is worse,
My 5 Euro Haircut
And new top - yellow gingham. I love it!
not finding the gallery or finding the gallery and then finding that it’s closed. I was rather annoyed to say the least.
I thought maybe a venture around town (helped by downing a wonderful pastry enroute) might ease my annoyance somewhat. I think it was the pastry that eased the annoyance but I did find tourist information and they did have one gallery open. Thank goodness for small miracles. I spent the next hour or so going through the gallery, which showcased the work of former Yugoslavian artists with a particular focus on Montenegrin artists, with a Russian family who took no notice whatsoever of the no photography sign.
That was enough culture for me. It was back to the bus stop, and luckily for me, not waiting. I was in Podgorica within the hour. Oh well, at least I did something. But what to do with the rest of the day, it was only about 2 in the afternoon? Oh that’s right, a little sleep during the heat of the day. And then that much talked about haircut. And she did a marvellous job. Wash, cut and blowdry for 5 euro. She took such care and attention
Approaching Lake Skadar
Early morning tranquility
too. She definitely deserved her tip! And I bought myself a ‘new’ 2nd
hand top. That day was the day for treating myself – a little bit more than usual let’s say.
And then the next day I really was Skadar Lake bound. OK so the ride out of Podgorica was not the most pleasant but it was beautifully flat. Oh yes. What a wonderful (short-lived) experience that was but still… Very, very nice for a change and a great way to get back into the saddle after such a long break. I stopped in Virpazar to have a rest and a coffee and had the good fortune of running into my Podgorica roommate, Bill. It was nice to have company for a change even if it was just for a coffee.
The road I had decided to take is also called the monastery road as there are lots of them. I also noticed that this road had a pass (!!) at the end. Bill said that it was probably more an up and down hilly road (I wasn’t convinced but stayed stumm). I guess it was a kind of up and down road but after Godinje it
was mainly up. At one stage, probably because it was hot too, I walked Dragana (my bike). I had a lovely Dutch couple stop their car to make sure everything was alright – yes, just tired. And then, luckily, it flattened and I was skirting the mountains. There were signs here and there pointing to a monastery either up or down but that required too much hard work. Cycling would be so much easier if I wasn’t lugging what I’m lugging and not in the condition I’m in. But nonetheless, as hard as it was, the view was beautiful. The lake down below and the mountains of Albania rising steeply from it on one side and in my line of sight, little islands (yes, some with monasteries on them).
That evening, I spent in a little village, Murici, which conveniently had a restaurant and a camping ground and cabins. Although it was a torturous, hairpin bend road down to it, a mere 3km. I asked a few times if this was the right road and if I was heading to the right place (I really did not want to make any mistakes!). One man I asked asked me where
Just near Vipazar on Skadar Lake
I was from and how long I was staying. All I was thinking is I’m not staying with you – you know when you get that sleazeball vibe. I didn’t totally trust his directions either but he forcefully motioned forward and when I came back waved his hand as if to say go away. I guess that means ‘I’m telling the truth and I can’t believe you don’t believe me. Rack off’. So I went the way he told me and I got there. It was a lovely place to camp.
I ended up spending two nights there. The second night because I couldn’t face the 3km climb first thing in the morning after just one night. Not a bad decision really. Skadar Lake is a National Marine Park and it really is an exquisite place, surrounded by mountains and teeming with all sorts of bird and marine life. I think the maximum depth is around 44m so it is like a big, tepid bath. And clean. Cleansed as it is by around 20 natural underwater springs. Believe it or not, there were no mozzies too. Really, what more could you ask for?
So, feeling rested, it was
These were everywhere near Skadar Lake the webs extending from one pine tree to the next. They would have been feasting for days - insects galore around there.
time to move on and do what needed to be done. An early morning start, 7am, and that awful climb (and a smug hello from sleazy man enroute!) and it was back on the main drag. Wonderfully quiet, a little too early for the tourists just yet and maybe a little too early for the locals too, although the shepherds were well and truly on their way up the mountains with their flocks by then. And the road climbed. And climbed. I met a young Finnish man who couldn’t have been older than 21/22 who had already cycled 45 days from Finland and been to Turkey and Greece and was coming back up. R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S. But amazing. The ride, although strenuous, did go through some picturesque villages, and fields where all manner of produce was being grown including tobacco. And then there was a beautiful, cooling ride through a wonderful chestnut forest the largest of its kind in Montenegro. It was thoughtfully varied. Thank you road engineer for your consideration. But hard. And then, there was the pass, 916m, with magnificent views into Albania and back to Montenegro. And then it was down, down, down… A little stop at the Panorama
Starting the climb on the monastery road to Murici.
Restaurant for a coffee (or 2) and a BIG bowl of pasta and it was back in the saddle for the border crossing.
The border crossing was all over and done with easily and painlessly. No outbound stamp for Montenegro and only an inbound one from Albania upon request followed by a very enthusiastic (!!) welcome from the Roma children who chased me calling out money, money, money. Goodbye Montenegro, it’s been nice knowing you. And um, hello Albania.
Tot: 0.09s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 9; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0141s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb