07.21.09

Montenegran mountains

Posted in Montenegro, The journey journal at 2:19 pm by Administrator

A quick note here from skopje in macedonia.

The country of montenegro is pretty aptly named. it means black mountain in italian and in its own language it is Crno Gora which means black mountain. Strange that. Well the three of the four full days that we rode across the country involved climbs of over 1000m and our highest point on the trip was at about 1850 above sea level. We first crossed into the touristy area of herceg novi and it was an iteresting place. Nic kept pointing out all these really tall slim pretty girls that I would have not otherwise noticed. Then we headed around the awesome area of Kotor bay. It is a pretty specky area and well worth a look. After kotor we found out why cycle touring is really awesome. The climb out of kotor involves about 39 switchbacks and goes up just over 1000m and horizontally about 8 km. We ran out of water in the 35 degree heat around 800m up and just as we took our last swig we came around a corner and there was a little stand selling drinks and homemade cheese and cured meats. It was like a magical oasis. We asked pleadingly for water with swollen tongues and the guy who ran the stall clicked into action. Out came the chairs and the umbrellas and the precious water. Then more water and then the home made wine and the snacks and the home made spirits and finally out came his little guitary kind of violin thing that he proceeded to play for us all of the local folk music. It took us hours to get away from Luka and wobble our way up the rest of the hill. We could feel the last few hundred metres as we were a little tipsy but it was such an awesome experience to spend those hours out of the sun with such a genuine giving bloke. We would have missed that if not on bikes and it is that kind of hospitality that is appearing more and more in the balkans that is making this trip the dream that I hoped that it would be. The remainder of montenegro was a blur of gorges and mountain passes and stunning scenery. We did a small ‘civilisation stop’ in Podgorica and went to the movies and saw transformers. It was so wierd to fit back into ‘normal life’ for a second again. The countryside that we went through got really rural and remote and it was great to get away from populated areas.
The map that we were using for this part of the journey was bought in Melbourne and aparently printed in 2006. Unfortunately it wasn’t so up to date. It showed a nice main road heading out of montenegro into kosovo. It was Highway 9 so it couldn’t be bad.. right? Well the bitumen ended 10km and 600 m from teh top of the pass and didn’t start again until well into kosovo. As there is a kind of diplomatic cold war between the 2 countries then the blocked and neglected the road. A car couldn’t get through but a bike could get around the landslides and gravel and roadblocks and rocks and areas that have been dug up. There isn’t a real border there, just a kind of 12 km wide no mans land that nobody lives in or goes to. The only sign that we were leaving montenegro was the white landrover parked beside the road with three montenegran police next to it. They invited us for coffee and drinks and kind of as an afterthought checked our passports. Very cool border crossing and a great insight into things in the two countries at the montent.

Anyway bye for now.

Tc