Our stay in Montenegro has been short but blimey we have climbed some hills, in fact mountains! We have only seen a very small corner of this beautiful country but the section we have seen has been stunning. It’s been the country where we have seen the most cycle tourers and camped on the wilder side (at last).
Our introduction to Montenegro came along the shores of the bay of Kotor. A fiord like bay with mountains either falling into the sea or rising from it. With each twist along the road came another viewpoint. After a night in Kotor we headed for our biggest cycle climb yet which happened to fall on Barbara’s birthday! The national park Lovčern presented us with 26 switchbacks, followed by some serious % ascents. The amount we both sweated has left salt stains on our t-shirts. The day was long and by 8pm we both started to wonder when we would reach the top (1600metres). Montenegro does not seem to be keen on signage or information especially within a national park, so as night was falling we saw a camper van pitch up in the meadow. We followed further down the meadow behind a few tress out of sight. A beautiful stop and not bad for our first real (free) wild camp spot. The next morning drinking coffee from our trusty Areopress and reading a section from the guide book we almost choked as I read aloud, “species in the park range from small mammals to brown bears and wolves”! We never saw any but heard the wolves in the distance.
The national park was a great cycling challenge and it rewarded us with fantastic views and a couple of nights camping in it surrounds. The cycle out of the park was downhill and this was fully enjoyed. Our departure from NP Lovčern and the entry into NP Skadarsko Jezero on the same day treated us to seeing and chatting to 4 different cycling couples. Some away for couple weeks, couple months to several years (thanks for the coffee and long exchanges of info the couple from OZ& NZ). We were amazed when we meet a German couple cycling with their 2 children. I will never complain if the going gets tough with my bags again. Hats off to you.
Also along the route we stumbled across a wooden hut and out popped a puppy and old man selling every tea, liquor and wine all made by himself. His hut was an Aladdin’s cave of drinks, oddments and cats. We sampled a few flavours and finally got my hip flask filled with walnut liquor! The road around the mountains fringed views of the lake Skadarsko and conical mountains sprang from the surface of the lake. Our resting stop was in a little tranquil haven called ‘Okay Koral Camping’. Firstly pushing our bikes through a shallow river to reach the organic farm and campsite. We where taken around to see all the animals (rabbits, goats, pigs, ducks, horses…) before eating some fine home cured and smoked carp. We both woke from a much rested sleep and said let’s stay another night.
Another full day cycling in Montenegro will see us cross the border into Albania. The short spell here has awoken our senses to another part of Europe were we have spoken with Montenegrin people about the 1999 conflict, the power and corruption, stray dogs, and issues of environmental awareness (rubbish thrown everywhere).