Day 19: Zupa Dubrovacka to Lepetane, Montenegro
Jack Richards, August 16, 2011
I have now left Croatia behind and ridden into Montenegro. Due to an alteration to my route, I avoided Sarajevo and continued down the Croatian coast, entering Montenegro further south than I had originally planned. So rather than ride in the mountains today, I am still on the coast. This isn’t altogether a bad thing because I’ve heard numerous positive reports of the Kotor fjord, Europe’s most southerly, and the Adriatic’s only fjord that makes a large inlet into Montenegro. The ancient town of Kotor is also gaining recognition on the tourist circuit and I had been encouraged by fellow MJ blogger Ross McEwen to pay it a visit.
Riding over the boarder and into Montenegro was slightly anti climatic, as have most European borders in fact. I was at least expecting a few armed personnel in recognition of the area’s fairly troubled past. Though the border itself was a disappointment, the culture contrast just a few kilometres into the country was anything but.
A sprawling messy town showing numerous signs of inferior levels of development marked my path. Decrepit buildings, clapped out cars, pot holed roads all portraying a generally lower level of affluence. A massive reduction in Dutch and German vehicles, now the Serbs, Czech’s, Poles and Bulgarians rule the road. The result has been a dramatic increase in terrifying drivers.
Riding on Montenegro’s roads is an illuminating experience and I certainly had to have my wits about me. I have had more sketchy moments today than in the whole of the rest of my trip combined; One hoot of the horn is usually a good sign it means ‘I see you and am going to pass’. Two hoots means ‘I am coming at pace’. Three means ‘get your bike out the way or I will run you over’. More than four honks on the horn means ‘I am a total lunatic, I know I can’t see around this blind corner but I have crossed my fingers and am going to chance it anyway’. Now I have deciphered the local code, I feel able to manage the situation.
I soon pedalled out of the built up town into which I initially arrived and picked up the coast road which winds around the fjord. A notable change here from Croatia – steep forested mountains jut spectacularly up from the water’s edge. The weather continues to be hot and very humid. Sat here at 6pm in a cafe by the sea, I have beads of perspiration rolling down my face. So you can imagine, that when exercising the heat is oppressive.
Kotor did not disappoint. It’s a cool old town, and in my opinion much more interesting than Dubrovnik. Although smaller, it’s more real and has character. I wondered around and sat in the square and drank coffee and ate more excellent cakes.
I must admit to now being slightly fed up of riding my bike. I am not sure if it’s the knowledge of being so close to my final destination, the heat, my general fatigue or just the repetition catching up with me. It’s time for a change, but that’s ok because tomorrow is my last day on the bike and tonight the last night in my tent.
Due to my route and the infrequency campsites I am now in a pretty horrific site on the coast. I am clearly in a Serbian tourist hot spot and its not an altogether pleasant environment. I’m sat by the water’s edge here drinking yet more coffee (addiction to European espresso now deeply ingrained), with dodgy foreign pop blaring out – it’s a very different feeling place to Croatia. Perhaps a poor route choice on my part but it seems to be the best option on my course to Podgorica.
Today 105 kilometres. Tomorrow a similar distance as I climb up to Podgorica. I will be glad to clear the coast and am looking forward to a clean hotel room tomorrow night! I have heard the road is a bit savage and it looks like I have a 1000m climb – a fitting way to end this trip.