23rd May 2014 Our first day in Montenegro gave us even more beauty as we circumnavigated Lake Shkodra. Our route took us through Podgorica, the capital where we saw King Nicola’s summer palace and then on via an ancient village (can’t remember the name and it isn’t on a map) as we headed for the coast. This village wasn’t a tourist attraction, in fact it was pretty much deserted except for ourselves as we explored the nooks and cranneys of the age-old houses and basilica. Then a mountainous road rollercoastering from lakeside to mountaintop. Now camped on the shore of the Adriatic at Ulcinj.
25th May 2014 Yesterday afternoon arrived at Vesla camping ground on the north western shore of Montenegro. The gate was closed but did open when I tried it and we went in. There was a Polish couple already camped there and they were most welcoming even though we had invaded their privacy. This camping area is almost operational with clean toilets, power and water but no shower, our solar douche at the ready. This campsite is a peninsula with a rocky coastline but accessible for swimming and we will do some R&R here as sunny weather is in plentiful supply.
26th May 2014 Breakfast and Peter the Pole brings us some sheep milk and cheese that was given to him by his local friend. I couldn’t believe it was from a sheep and upon further interrogation determined it to be goat and very good it is, the milk tasting like full cows milk and the cheese a mild, slightly lemony flavour. Later in the morning an elderly fellow we met yesterday, known as the American Pirate (He lived in America and has an eye patch, aka Milan) came over for a chat and stayed all morning just as the owner of the camp, Mladin, arrived with grappa or raki for all. This was just before lunch and now we are all very happy. The beauty of raki is, so I’m told, that it can be made out of just about anything. To give you an idea of what raki tastes like: I offered The Pirate a smell of my methylated spirits canister and I immediately detected a glimmer of recognition in his eyes and a developing smile before telling him he could not drink it as it is a poison. Later we will have a swim and then go and visit The Pirate at his house.
If you are a builder read the following paragraph. Mladin has built an apartment/development, still incomplete but aesthetically quite pleasing, just down the road. The entire building is concrete i.e. pitched roof, balustrades and even what would be the timber crossmembers of the pergolas. This thing will still be here in a thousand years time. A young lady has just wandered up from the water in an itsy bitsy tiny weeny white no polkadot bikini and stiletto’s. The scenery here is easy on the eye. I think we have ended up in millionaires row or the French Riviera. The Pirate has entertained us and showed us around the neighbourhood and very agreeable it is as the coast provides secluded coves which double as private swimming pools that we can also use. One house belongs to someone from L.A. another a Russian and another belongs to a Montenegrin government minister. We have the campsite and two beaches to ourselves now. I think we’ll stay another day. Judy has just badgered me into trying our solar shower, which she has taken down to the rock pools, by telling me It will be the best shower you will ever have. Well the water was nice and hot and the scenery satisfactory to someone showering in the nutty. As Judy photographed she intimated that some of the photos might have to be cropped. She was right, as usual, about the shower and the photos. The campfire is now lit.
28th May 2014 Yesterday visited Perast, the Venice of Montenegro, a beautiful and historic village on the shore of the Adriatic (It is actually a huge inlet, with no name that I can find) before settling in for the night at Autocamp Naluka, right beside a small river, feeding the ducks and geese. In the morning, after a heavy deluge I was up at the camp office trying to download a map when Dushan, the proprietor arrived with a, yep you guessed it, a grappa/raki, it must be a Montenegrin custom, and then another when Jude arrived. Jude was given a lemon raki. Drove east up to the mountain area, at about 1500 metres above sea level hoping to see the most spectacular gorge in Europe tomorrow.We had just found a camping area when eight bikers arrived looking for lodging. The proprietor, Misha, invited us all down for a present. Yep you guessed it, grappa/raki and also coffee. So we all sat out in the very cool open and got acquainted. After a while it wasn’t so cool after all. We are all regrouping later for an evening meal that Misha’s Mother is preparing.
29th May 2014 I wasn’t given a raki till 4pm, what’s this place coming to? We started today by visiting the most spectacular gorge in Europe, The Tara gorge, named after our daughter. This gorge is gorgeous and along the way found Archangel Michael’s Monastery, named after me.
We then proceeded high into the mountains above the snow line at times on a 4×4 road which presented only one challenge for our Troopy in the form of a rock fall that we had been told about back in Zabljak. Troopy passed the test. Montenegro is a boutique country, so compact and striking. We are fast running out of Methylated spirits (denatured alcohol), which we use for our stove, and can’t find any for sale. In desperation I lit some raki to see if it could be used as a substitute but to my surprise it would not ignite.
30th May 2014 Three countries in one day. Started the day in Montenegro after a cold, rainy night in freezing conditions (we were snug with bacon and eggs for breako at the camp restaurant), and drove way up into the snow country in the morning before pushing along the Tara gorge carrying the Piva River toward Bosnia-Hercegovina. From Pluzine we went through sixty-eight tunnels over a distance of twenty-seven kilometres, that’s 2.5 tunnels /kilometre, it was spectacular, entering Bosnia at about 12.30pm.