If ever I was taken surprise by a country, I’d have to say MONTENEGRO (meaning Black Mountain) tops that list. I just could not believe how beautiful this place was. I knew very little about this low profile country except for a TV show I saw about a couple that moved from the USA to Montenegro and loved it….and now I know why! The natural beauty took my mind to a whole new level of awareness. From the moment we crossed the border from Kosovo into Montenegro I gasped at the thought that it reminded me of a mini Switzerland with smaller mountains!
Motoring along the country roads you’ll stumble upon tall steeple churches and cows just grazing alongside loose fences with butterflies and colorful birds catching the breeze and floating by. The vibrant array of fall trees gave you a calm and peaceful tenderness like you’ve never felt before. The tiny hay stacks in front of homes with their animals wandering about made me wonder what life was like living in Montenegro. I LOVED THIS COUNTRY. I WANTED MORE OF IT.
The surroundings hillsides were laden with radiant colors, so much in fact, I felt as if I was in an animated film of my life…Ms Harmonica in her Technic Color Adventure! The vivid red brick houses, the rich land and crops, even their cloths hanging on the lines were lively! Everything seemed to be zestful with such an inner peaceful glow. It gave you the intense mixture of happiness, calm and gusto all in one.
I rarely get the I MUST COME BACK feelings, but when I do, I know there’s a special reason. USA world travelers tend to just keep adding new places to their bucket list with little doubling back. But every time we entered into a new part of Montenegro we were awestruck and lured into its natural appeal. The funny cow signs, road side shrines or awesome rock formations and and and…I was continually astonished. Neither one of us had expected such raw beauty from this sovereign state in South Eastern Europe. Montenegro is now a candidate negotiating to join NATO (On 2 December 2015 Montenegro received an official invitation to join) and the European Union. Montenegro borders Croatia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Talk about centrally located! Although its borders have changed over centuries of wars, its land mass has ‘gained more than lost’. The Greeks, Romans and Austrians have at some point inhabited this land and used its natural resources and the Turks were always trying to make their way in. It’s quite a fascinating history, even from being part of Yugoslavia, but you can read up on that if you ever plan to travel there!
Heading out of the mountains and on to the autobahn, we made our way to the capital city of PODGORICA, a quaint, not so big but spread out city with old world charm and modern hotels and shopping. I quite liked this city and even more the awesome hotel we stayed in. I think I did the happy dance having stayed in so many s*it holes for so long…you take what you can when you are driving into the unknown and when you find a really nice place at a great price….ahhhhh, you feel like a freaking queen. Oh the joys of simple pleasures!! lol And we had a great view from our room that gave you a direct view of the City Center.
We had the most delicious meal at a traditional restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. Traditional dishes of Montenegro’s heartland, and its beautiful Adriatic Coast (more on that later) is heavily influenced by Italian fare but also by Serbian, Croatian, Turkish and Hungarian dishes. Our restaurant in the city center of PODGORICA stood next to the old Clock Tower in Bećir Beg Osmanagić square. It’s one of the very few landmarks that survived the bombings of WWII.
I remember I had a traditional dish of roasted red peppers and a kind of mixed salad that resembles a Cobb salad and then a plate of lamb kebabs and cevapi (ground meat like sausages shaped like fingers) and warm pita bread. Darn I so wish I had taken a photo because that meal was so memorable and so very DE-LI-CIOUS! Cured meats, polenta, wine and spirits, meatballs, fritters, soup and stew, crepes, biscuits, goulash, and baklava are just a few yummy foods you will come across not to mention lots of fresh seafood along the coast and I do have a photo of that!
I can tell you what we DIDN’T EXPECT in the a tranquil city of Podgorica was a peaceful DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. Turns out to be not so peaceful demonstration when a few trouble-makers broke store front windows and made lots of racket (stupid young male testosterone) so it got a bit crazy! We were trapped as the roads were blocked off to our hotel and lots of police with riot gear (we even got a whiff from the fog of tear gas) but a group of nice young folks, trying to avoid the mess, helped lead us (with minimal English) through the back alleys, over a small creek, non-stop into an empty construction building where we had to maneuver in the dark over stairs and rubble and back out into a park after hopping a fence!! OMG, whew, made it! Then alone we had to find our way towards the direction of our hotel…scary, maybe a little but I just went with it and if nothing else, it was one heck of a night and great storytelling! Dang, I need to write a book! Ahhh The Adventure of it all!
Leaving the capital city, the terrain seemed to change to dry and much more rugged with outcrops of large boulders. It more resembled lovely Greece and I enjoyed the difference in scenery. The trees got smaller and the fall colors dipped into darker variations of green. One village after another followed us all the way towards the coast. The weather was picture perfect with the smell of winter on its way and the salt air grew closer as we glided down those hills and mountains…up and down the valleys until finally we got close enough to feel the change in temperature from the sea. Another surprise was this incredible Castle perched up high on the mountain top with an authentic old world village below.
I AM A BEACH PERSON! I love the mountains but the beach feeds my soul like no other physical feature on tiny mother Earth. When we started winding down off the mountain and came around the first bend and the coastal beaches came into sight, IT WAS MAGNIFICENT. We both just let out a big long sigh of ‘wonderment’ for our good fortune. We both AGREED that Montenegro, all the way until the end gave us great pleasure like no other on this long motorcycle journey. Oh there were so many beautiful sites along the way, but this place just holds something special that someone with an open mind and heart can catch a fleeing glimpse of and marvel at.
Port of BAR, located in BAR is the major seaport in Montenegro and is capable of handling about 5 million tons of cargo. It is a port for ferries to Ancona and Bari in Italia! I hope to someday return and take one of those ferry’s from Italy…I imagine it’s an overnight ferry like those similar to Croatia. Sounds like an adventure to me!!
Budva has a magnificent coast line of 21 km, with 17 beaches. It is one of the most beautiful coasts in the world and its beauty will leave you wanting more and more! Apart from the natural beauty of the coves, beaches and islands, it’s historic old town lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of cultural heritage. It is intersected with a number of streets and squares that hold important historical buildings. It’s not lacking in Cafe’s, Gallery’s, Boutiques or Restaurants either!
As if these photos aren’t enough to get you to buy a plane ticket and fly over tomorrow what came next was just as awesome. As we road along the hillside highway, we had to take a short turn inland in order to cross an inland fed saltwater bay. There was a car ferry which took us across the inlet and back on to the highway so we could continue on to Croatia. Although it was a very short ride, it was so unexpected and gave us a bit of a break from riding so long, several hours in fact.
I particularly like this candid photo of me as shown below (I don’t tend to add myself often in my observations). My helmet hair all braided which had gotten so very long, sporting my motorcycle riding gear! I was so relaxed, enjoying the beauty and admiring all that mother nature brings to the table. I was so very thankful and happy at that very moment in time for having had this opportunity and it lives within my heart and mind everyday!
Once we disembarked off the boat and rode a bit, we stopped at a local restaurant on the roadside and ate the most wonderful fresh Calamari and absorbed the lovely sunshine and vista. It was a cute vibrant colorful tavern (like everything in Montenegro) with a cool English speaking waiter and a patio all to ourselves on this October day! We sat and watched the sail boats glide by and other motorcycles stopped by for a rest and a drink as well! Best day ever!
Here is my parting photo of goosebumps MONTENEGRO…I AM SO GOING BACK NO MATTER WHAT and I hope someday YOU will visit this unknown beauty! TaTa
THANKS MONTENEGRO FOR AN AWESOME MOTORCYCLE RIDE I WON’T SOON FORGET!
Forever on the road,