Sunday, 4 January 2015

MONTENEGRO. BLACKMOUNTAIN. CRNAGORA. ЧЕРНА ГОРА


One of the few not crowded beaches in Montenegro...I am not saying it easy to find them but they do exist!!
Inside the Kotor´s city walls
My route in Montenegro
It’s the second-newest country in Europe (after Kosovo), gaining independence from Serbia in 2006. With Serbia now being landlocked, it’s still the major summer destination for a lot of Serbians and many locals still identify as Serbian. At least the language is the same and they say they speak Serbian.
Piva canyon. Source: http://www.mototrip-tours.com/
Montenegro has one of the most rugged terrains in Europe. Mostly mountains (as you can guess from the name - Black mountains in English), here’s a tiny flat bit in between which is as built up as you can get; 800,000 people squeezed into not much space at all. I’ve never seen so many tunnels in such a small area as I did in Montenegro. I approached the country coming from the north –Bosnia. I left Sarajevo in the morning (kind of J)  and the plan was to get to Zabliak in Montenegro hitch hiking by the end of the day. It was all going very well until I got stuck on a less frequented mountain road, 10 km before the border. No cars were passing so when I saw a bus coming just jumped on it. I have never imagines that the roads goes through such a beautiful canyon – Piva canyon! The views were stunning and the road so narrowed that if someone is afraid of heights I do not recommend this section. So many tunnels and bridges meandering from side to side…
The bridge over Tara river
Piva canyon from the bus
View from Pluzine
Piva canyon 
Somewhere before Niksic I got dropped off at a turn off to continue hitch hiking to Zabljak. Didn’t have anything booked there but talking to the locals I quickly found a bed in a nice guest house for 10€. When i arrived they already had the BBQ going outside with some wine and rakija, that´s what I call perfect timing.

 

At Black lake




 
Black lake. No idea why it called black



Zminje Lake
Barno Lake...but it looked more like a swamp - very low on water I guess



 
Don´t know what they were but the whole lamp post was covered with them
Tara bridge
Ulcinj
After Zabljak, I headed to Kosovo, again hitch hiking and I came back a month later to explore the coastline. Coming from Albania quite late in the afternoon I went straight to the first town on the coast Ulcinj. Its the major destination for Kosovars since they are landlocked.  To my surprise, everything was full and it was impossible to find a bed for one night, at least not for a reasonable price (less than 20 €). When I was getting a bit tired of all the walking around up and down the hills, just asking a group of young boys and girls about possible accommodation, they offered me to stay with them since they had a free bed in their room. Again I was lucky. They were all from Kosovo and their early 20s. It was fun talking to them and walking around the Old town. The town itself is charming but way too crowded. The beach was so full that there was no space to put your towel. So after one night and a day on the beach, I headed to Kotor. 
Busy busy

 
The typical death notices are not missing in Ulcinj either. Christian and Muslim together. And my hosts from Kosovo
. On the way to Kotor..Sveti Stefan island - one of the most iconic sights in Montenegro


Kotor is really pretty. The bay of Kotor, everything inside the city walls and the views from the fortress are gorgeous. Even simple things like hanging laundry and the usually annoying electric wires are beautifully blended with its medieval architecture and cobbled streets (Laundry on display in Kotor). As everyone else I met,  I stayed longer than planned but probably because of the nice people I met there. The downside is that is very crowded and I really hope it does not head down the same path as Dubrovnik, where human traffic jams are common in the Old Town. I also don’t want the Budva model to catch on, where the whole coastline just resembles one big nightclub and adjoining funfair.

My favorite square and church inside the Old Town



 
First thing you see when you enter the city walls
 
Kotor. Inside the citiy wall

Otside the city wall
 
Climbing to the top of the fortress. Hot and humid. Only recommended to be done very early in the morning or at sunset.
 
It´s nice to be up here at sunset
The beautiful Bay of Kotor
No name beach
My friend Antonia who I met in Albania recommended me to go to that beach half way to Budva from Kotor and she was so right about it. I love Montenegro and its beaches but it is so crowded in the summer that almost kills my desire to go to the beach. Luckily we found this "No name" beach and its cute beach bar. Crystal clear water, some rocks in the sea and only a few people! Krista, an Australian girl from the hostel joined me and we hitchhiked to Jaz beach  (very busy as well) and then walked on the beach direction Budva for about 15 min, passing two more beaches (nude ones) until we got to some big rocks and behind them was our secluded "No name" beach. 
 
What is a beach without a cold beer?
 
Krista relaxing under the shade
 








We were quite close to Budva anyways so after relaxing for a few hours we headed that way. Wasn´t difficult to get a ride and quickly made it to the Old town. To my surprise it was very pretty and well preserved. We even met the Italian guy I went to the fortress in Kotor with. Most backpackers that stayed in Budva complained that it was way too crowded and expensive, full of shops and clubs destined for the Russian tourists. It wouldn´t be that bad if half of Russia didn´t descends on the country during the summer. And that was the reason I skipped it but a few hours walk in the Old town did not hurt :). 
 
Laundry in Budva
 
Views from Budva´s fortress
 
Krista and I hitchking to Kotor.                                      No name beach on the right
 
Krista trying to hitch a ride back to Kotor. First timer :)
I stayed in Old town hostel in Kotor (http://www.hostel-kotor.me/) which is by all means one of the most beautiful hostels I ever stayed. Built in the 13th century, the building uses to belong to a noble Bisanti family. It felt more being in a stylish aristocratic house of the Middle  age, all made of stone and wood. 

Great location, plenty of room in the dorm, big lockers, 2 kitchens, one in every wing and very friendly staff who are ready to help you with everything. Nikola and Marko were the two I mostly interacted with but I got to meet the owner Slavenko as well. I was surprised how the guys working there managed to sleep at all – taking out the hostels guest to pub crawls, organizing dinners and parties and being so energetic and positive all the time. Every single day and night. Pretty impressive!
Also, they organize all kind of tours, including to Durmitor national park and Tara canyon, transport to Croatia and Albania. One thing I noticed as common for everyone who stayed in the hostel - they all stayed longer than they planned (if it is not full of course but even then they help you find another place). Great vibe and atmosphere! 
Cocktail night at Western wing of Old city Hostel 
Nikola (who never sleeps) working at the reception (or probably planning the next party)
 
RAKIJA - one of the Balkans inventions. I don´t know if it connects them but gives them a hell of a hangover
When the big cruise ships dock in Kotor, the only street connecting the bay to the Old town is literally collapsed by the cruise passengers crossing the street at the only pedestrian crossing. Imagine 3500 people who have to cross this tiny street all at the same time (within 20 min lets say)!
When the big cruise ships dock here, the only street connecting the bay to the Old town is literally collapsed by the cruise passengers crossing the street at the only pedestrian crossing. Imagine 3500 people who have to cross this tiny street all at the same time (within 20 min lets say)!
I also visited Tivat and Porto Montenegro - the super Yacht marina and the adjacent waterfront in Tivat. Lots of pretty boats :))!
 
Porto Montenegro





Another nice beach near Kotor (but not as nice as No Name beach) is Plavi horizonti a beautiful bay, on  Lustica peninsula near Tivat. The beach itself is pretty full and the water wasn´t as clear but if you keep going through the forest (there is a path), every 100m there is a small path leading you to the rocks and the sea. If you get there early enough you might get a good spot and the water is crystal clear. 

The beach from my spot. Plavi Horizonti
 
My spot
Such a small country and so many things to see. Have been to Montenegro in summer? If i go again I would avoid the busiest months and go in June or September but that is just me coz I am allergic to big crowds of tourists. How do you grade Montenegro campared to its neighbours in the Balcans?

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