„Here, everyone gets a free shot. It will burn a little bit but it will kill all the germs and you’ll warm up“, our guide said and passed a small cup of Rakia known as local (and very strong) brandy. „Cheers and bottoms up!“, she said and everyone drank. It was 10:00 am.
„Now, since we followed Montenegrin tradition, we can proceed to breakfast!“, the guide added smiling while leaving the small dark smoked room where prosciutto is being made.
Just a regular morning at the oldest restaurant in Montenegro „Kod Pera pod Bukovicu“.
We started the famous Great Montenegro Tour from the office of „360 Monte“ Travel Agency. We’ve passed to the mini-bus just outside the walls of Kotor and headed to the mountains that were still blocking the sun even though it was 8:30 am.
As we started driving up the 25 curves of the Old Austro-Hungarian Road from 19th century, some travelers from the group put down their Lonely Planet books about Montenegro since it was much more interesting (and fun) listening to our guide telling all important information about this unexplored and astonishing place.
Sun was struggling with the huge “black mountain” Lovćen that we were about to conquer. It was so apparent how Montenegro got its name.
We stopped at 9th serpentine to capture waking town of Kotor while the stupendous cruiser with 3.000 passengers was trying to reach the port of the Old Town below us.
As we were driving higher, the cruise was getting smaller and the Bay wider and deeper.
Each bent was rising us until we reached a vintage point from 1.000 meters of altitude at 25th bend.
You can hear only camera clicks.
Boka Bay with its glacial origin reveals history of fiords, showing dramatic movements of land that had intimate and at the same time the most wild and passionate encounter with deep ink blue water. At some places its depth reaches impressive 60 meters.
High elevations are definitely different appearance from other parts of Adriatic coast. When you see mountains growing up high like crazy, you’ll know you’re in Montenegro.
Even though the view was impressive enough to wake everybody up, we still needed a coffee so the tour continued through the slopes of Mt. Lovćen at Njeguši. The legendary village where the best Montenegrin prosciutto (smoked dry ham) is made. This is the place where you want to stay and take as many deep healthy breaths as possible – in a moment you feel fresh crispy air, in next, your senses will be irritated by prosciutto smell which will immediately make you crave food.
Courteous driver suddenly started shouting something that no one understands at the sheep which were blocking the road, and the inquisitive tourists (including myself) used that opportunity to capture more of the day.
As we reached 1.150 meters, the mini-bus stopped at the beautiful countryside house with a wide flowers-decorated terrace. It was chilly outside but pleasant.
10:00 am. Food time.
And free rakia shots.
After filling up with the energy (and big cups of coffee), the group was ready to burn the tasty ham with climbing the top of Lake peak where the mausoleum was placed.
“The sea of rocks”, as the Lovćen NP is also called, has no river or lake to discover, the road is damaged by strong melting snow in springtime, limestone shattered on sides and roots of trees sticking out from the ground. While we tried to capture this dramatic scenery from another planet surrounded with endless rocks, two elevations emerged – Štirovnik (1749 m) as the highest and Lake Peak as the following (1659 m).
The climbing can start!
461 step to the top – 70% of Montenegro to be seen!
Do not start without water, sunglasses and all possible cameras that you have.
From 1/3 of the way we were already amazed – the tour guide was showing enormous nature oasis Skadar Lake which spreads 70% across Montenegro and 30% in Albania.
While we got to the top, everybody were breathless, but stunned.
Don’t miss the story and the statue of the Peter II Petrović Njegoš, ruler of Montenegro, the tallest known man in Balkans in 19th century.
As the lovers of art and I were beaming all over with joy with viewing the masterpiece done by famous sculptor Ivan Meštović, the other people were admiring 18 kg of pure gold that was sparkling from the ceiling.
On the other side of the mausoleum a narrow path guided to a rocky circle and to – THE TOP OF THE WORLD.
Almost all Montenegrin land below our feet.
The breeze was just to cool us down from jumping – not from the top of the mountainJ, but up to capture the famous “jumping photo” which is really unbelievable! (Your guide will show you how to do it, one second of effort and you get picture like that):
This adventure slow down during the ride to Cetinje where half of the bus was fully using the “nap time”.
From the steep and high elevated peak we went down to a valley where the Old Royal Capital was tucked away.
Grounded, colorful houses and richly decorated former embassies from 19th century were showing royal history of this place, but many of the wrecks even covered in poster were revealing turbulent events that occurred many decades and centuries ago. The story of the guide completely followed the scenery, definitely enjoyable and simplified.
Within its best glory – next stop was The River of Crnojević!
Many of the people said that it reminds them to Vietnam or New Zealand, but nothing similar to Europe.
Without capturing “the most popular postcard picture in Montenegro” don’t think of leaving this this place.
It was 15:00 pm, and as the temperature was rising, the smell of grown figs bewitched our senses and again the food was only point of interest.
Romantic view to the river from the restaurant “The Last Port” (symbolically called by the owner who was asaylor for 50 years) distracted us from lunch briefly, but as soon as the fish soup was at the table, we devoured it.
The food was matching location, so the main course (trout) was caught in Skadar Lake and the finest unlabeled wine was supplied from local vineyards.
Do not think twice when it comes to boat ride! As that is optional on the tour (with surcharge), the whole group has to decide together. When you see the river and that crazy beauty, it will be very easy to make your mind.
One hour with a swimming option if the day is too hot was just enough to see and feel all the lush vegetation rich in fish and birds flying everywhere.
Flock of white fat geese was staring at us as we were passing so we pointed our zoom to them. Herons were showing off proudly standing on one feet, while the cormorants were mostly careless about the tourist, rather occupied drying their wings on the sun.
Our skipper provided some homemade vine that he made himself.
It was a blast.
From the peace and river heaven, the tour continued to Budva – again completely different then everything seen so far.
Budva is “Miami of Montenegro” with beautiful beaches, palm trees, fancy shops and, as our guide said, never-ending party.
Even the Old Town is shiny, just to match all the new construction around.
Walking tour remind us of the ancient history of this place and the giant mosaic floor from a Roman house returned us for a moment back in time.
Overwhelmed with Montenegrin astonishing beauty and all the new information learned we closed up the day in Budva with delicious gelato and satisfied went back to Kotor driving along with the sunset.
This is a post written in collaboration with the „360 Monte“ Travel Agency.