Montenegro

Cetinje: 23 June

Cetinje crept into our itinerary because it is small and relatively convenient to the Podgorica airport. I didn’t expect it to be so delightful. It was the royal capital of Montenegro, so it is sprinkled with palaces, gardens and former embassies, yet it is a small city with a scarce few buildings taller than two stories. It is a good place for sauntering on this last night in the Balkans.

Some photos:

The back yard of our accommodation

Street scenes

And

And

And

The Blue Palace

The English Embassy

The Court of King Nikola (Last King’s Residence)

I’m not sure what this was, but the exterior trim is stunning.

And

Entrance to royal park

Tomorrow, bus to Podgorica, then the airport. We sadly say goodbye to the Balkans.

Advertisements
Categories: Montenegro | 2 Comments

Kotor 3: 21-22 June

Kotor has a decidedly Venetian flavor for good reason. Imagine mini-Venice with no flooding, Dubrovnik surrounded by mountains instead of the sea, though the Bay of Kotor is at its gate.

Roger did not venture out Saturday, so I took his camera for a few photos.
I considered it my duty to contribute to the socialization of all kittens I met.

Impromptu dancing to street music

Every day is wash day.

And

Some buildings are just shells

With his camera, I could use telephoto.

And

And

And

And

Sunday, Roger was feeling well enough to go to the Venetian fortress above Kotor. We ascended by the Ladder of Cattaro, the ancient mule path that was for centuries the only access over the monte negro–black mountain–into the interior of what is now Montenegro. This path goes over the top of the mountain and on to Cetinje.

A piece of ancient track

Were Roger not under the weather, we would have at least gone over the top, but we crawled through a hole in the fortress wall

and came down the modern steps to town.

Some of the fortress walls are in amazingly good shape, and in general the Venetians were quite serious about defenses here.

And

Chapel on the way up

And

Inside the fortress

And

And

And

The view of the bay was good, but not as good at sunrise as it would be at sunset.

And

Old town from above. It is a small part of greater Kotor.

Church on the way down

Tomorrow Cetinje, our last destination before the flight home.

Categories: Montenegro | Leave a comment

Kotor 2: 20 June

Kotor is a walled city with the bay on one side and a respectable mountain on the other. With four nights, theoretically we would explore the area. Today, we walked outside the walls to the bay. After only a few minutes, I was ready to retreat to the walled city and not venture outside again except to climb the mountain when Roger recovers.

Outside, the only sight is roasting human flesh. One woman in particular who had already roasted to the medium rare stage had numerous large black moles. I hope she survives her vanity.

Inside the walls, we learned that mid-day is best spent in the air-conditioned room. Besides the heat, the streets are packed with day trippers. Later, I ventured out for some pictures while Roger rested.

And

And

And

And

And

And the steps to our first room that were slicker’n sn*t when wet.

And

And

And

And

And

And

And

And

Tomorrow, probably more of the same.

Categories: Montenegro | Leave a comment

Kotor: 19 June

Today confirmed that our itinerary for this trip was wise. You may have noticed that we generally avoid tourist meccas.

Our journey was straightforward: bus across the border to Ulcinjë, then a slow bus to Kotor. The route could have been beautiful, except that the coast is so built up–to us, that is. I suspect many would not agree, but we are spoiled to the unspoiled.

It rained much of the way and was raining when we arrived in Kotor. Our first choice hostel had only a room with a skylight which cannot be used in the rain. We were referred to a second hostel which put us in a 4-person room to ourselves. We will move back to the first hostel tomorrow.

Roger is not feeling well, so we did no more than eat and go to bed. It is a mild malaise, so no real concern.

Kotor is quite photogenic. Hopefully some good pictures tomorrow. We will stay 4 nights in Kotor.

Categories: Montenegro | 1 Comment

Over the Pass to Gusinjë

Easier done than said.

Guide books describe this hike as strenuous with 1,400 meter climb and more than 20 km. That 1,400 meters was cumulative–the climb to the pass was only 900 meters. The trail was very good. What was going to be the toughest climb I’ve ever attempted turned out to be No Big Deal.

No Big Deal physically, that is. Visually, it was very big indeed. Emotionally–well, we old farts just finished crossing the Accursed Mountains. Not just hiking into them–we crossed them.

We started at 6:30. The horseman was surprised at our light load.

Our path was clear before us.

Here’s a close-up. The pass is pretty obvious.

First, we went over the gravel from the recent flood. I was very glad the sun wasn’t on it, but it distressed me to see the horse struggle.

Then up through trees. The cliff face of Mt Arapit close up was magnificent.

After only an hour, Okol was 1,000 feet down.

It felt good to just stand there an contemplate what we had done so effortlessly.

The trail to the pass was vanilla. No exposure, no tricky stuff. Then wham, bang, in less than 3 hours, we are in another world.

And

And

Tall cliffs followed us a long way. Photos don’t capture the enormity of our surroundings.

And

And

And

Lots of flowers underfoot, especially in the meadows.

And

Then the border–if anyone cares anymore. This marker has fallen over. There was no border control.

Our guide left us when we got to the road to Vusanjë. We redid our packs and started out. Almost immediately, it began to rain.

Despite the fact that this was Friday the 13th, we spied a cave.

We stayed there about an hour and had a snack with cold Cokes we had stored in the pack. The mountains were beautiful in the rain.

And

Then we hiked another 5 km or so to Vusanjë.

In Vusanjë, we saw a wooden minaret, perhaps the most beautiful minaret I’ve ever seen.

And

Roger was ready to walk another 6 km to Gusinjë, but it was still drizzling and I’d had enough. I stopped at a house and asked to call a taxi to Gusinjë. The man told his son to drive us. We paid what a taxi would have cost.

We got a room in Gusingë’s hotel and had a very good meal. After 5 nights of full board, it was nice to choose what we wanted. The crowning touch on the day was a free bowl of ice cream.

Tomorrow: we’ll decide tomorrow.

Categories: Albania, Montenegro | 3 Comments

Skopje 2: 2 June

Today was a social day. Hostels are good for meeting other travelers.

The morning started with a lively discussion of history, politics and economics with a German and an American with Thai roots. We later had dinner and more lively conversation with the American and his girl friend. We could also talk travel because they travel on a similar budget.

The rest of the day was spent sauntering around Skopje. The rain stopped early. We decided that we like Skopje a lot better than we thought we would. While Ohrid is so “perfect” it almost seems like a movie set, Skopje feels real. There is a hint here and there of farther east, as in Bulgaria and Turkey.

Some photos:

Recycling cardboard

Wide grocery aisles

No jackhammer, no eye protection–just a pick axe

Another whimsical statue.

And another

Back street

And

And

Whimsical building

The caravanseri was not open, but its door was picturesque. (Caravanseris were inns for travelers. Animals on the ground floor; people above. Skopje was on major East-West trade route.)

And

Yes, the people door was that small.

Memorial to Mother Teresa, who was born in Skopje. We didn’t think she would approve the gaudy, bizarre structure.

And

And

It contrasted with her humble statue.

Tomorrow we go east to Kratovo.

Categories: Montenegro | Leave a comment

Lake Matka: 1 June

We actually went to Lake Matka yesterday, but didn’t pay it much attention before heading up the trail. Today, we went back to enjoy the lake.

The lake is the result of a hydro-electric dam in Matka Canyon. Some effort has gone into a nice walkway along one shore. We walked part of it. It’s good we didn’t go farther because it started raining.

Some photos:

And

And

And

And

And

Tomorrow will be a slow day. It appears to be raining everywhere in the region.

Categories: Montenegro | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.