You can certainly see a lot in a day-long road trip through this relatively small country.
Yesterday we decided to visit Ostrog Monestary near Niksic. Google Maps made it appear like a nice, one and a half hour, drive. The first part, getting to Niksic from Tivat, was relatively easy. The rest of the trip turned out to be a real adventure!
The drive from Tivat to Niksic was effortless. The highway is new and the trip is quick. Signs are easy and you really cannot get lost. Several small forest fires brought on by the summer heat, made the air hazy and the horizon almost undetectable, but the scenery was breathtaking. The scenery so different than the coast.
In Niksic we felt like we were driving through a movie set. The surroundings looked like we had traveled much farther into Eastern Europe than just a couple hours from the Adriatic Coast. The Communist era architecture was quite austere and this inland town had a “rough around the edges” feel to it.
Our good friend who was born and raised in the city of 75’000 gave us a restaurant suggestion for lunch. The challenge was finding it. Nobody we tried to speak with knew where it was. We knew roughly the neighbourhood, so we decided to park the car and explore on foot. By pure coincidence we happened to park only a few meters from the restaurant which was hidden away down a small lane. We found it by pure fluke.
The restaurant was called Portum. Rustic, local and incredibly good. The enormous proportions were slow cooked in an iron pot. After lunch we continued our quest to find Ostrog Monastery. It was an adventure. Google Maps, or our lack of ability to use it, lead us to a rock quarry; through impoverished Roma people dwellings, past an old prison, abandoned factories and a military graveyard.
The road to Ostrog was windy and one lane. I am sure we must missed the main road.
Our trip home from Ostrog was unbelievable. I thought we would take the scenic route which would end up, at sunset, high above the Bay of Kotor. Potentially stunning. Well, we ended up on a single lane windy mountain road. Our two hour trip included wild horses; cows; wood choppers and even a flipped car off the side of the road.
When we got close to home, it was hours after we had anticipated returning. I wanted to show my guests the sunset above the Bay of Kotor. From the top of the mountain you can see Kotor; Tivat; Herzeg Novi and beyond to the Adriatic, but we arrived too late. The sun had set a couple of hours earlier and now all you could see were distant lights framing the bay.
On the switchback road above Kotor which takes you down 1’400 meters even the local police were staked out. They stopped us and checked our documents. They were looking for drunk drivers trying to avoid the main roads. Luckily I had been only drinking water since lunch time (I did sneak in a Nik Gold Beer – produced in Niksic – with lunch).
The day ended with a light meal at Mitzu in the village with a local group of singers covering ABBA’s Dancing Queen with on the accordion across from us on Venice Square. A slightly surreal end to a day of adventure in the windy mountain roads of Montenegro!
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