In April 2018, two cheerful Dutch ladies, Marjolijn and Liesbeth trekked the Mediterranean part of Montenegro. Marjolijn wrote the day-by-day diary:
Track the Roots in Montenegro Zalaz 12-19 of April 2018, Marjolijn and Liesbeth
We arrived at Dubrovnik Airport half an hour late. But that is, what we learned later on, not a problem for Vlatko and his relaxed Montenegrin friends. The sun is shining and after a scenic route along the coast of Montenegro we arrive in Perast, the start of our six days hiking trip. Fresh seabass is prepared for us at dinner time.
The next morning we visit the small island in front of us in the bay; “Our Lady of the Rocks”. After that the boatman drops us of on the other side of the bay. A steep climb to an ancient village follows and our muscles are put to work straight away. We enjoy beautiful views, an abundance of wild flowers and we are sad about the loss of a pair of hiking boots. The hole sole comes off on top of the mountain and with some inventity my friend makes it down to Kotor alright.
We ring Vlatko for advice where to buy new shoes and Jadranka, his collegue, helps us out.
The next morning we hike the old city walls of Kotor, together with hundreds of tourist. But once we crowl through the “Alice-in-wonderland-hole in the wall”, we enter a totally different world. A lush green field, the remains of an old church, a big tree with a donkey grazing underneath. It’s a fairytale landscape and our camera’s run soon out of battery. Another steep climb follows with amazing views and a stream where we can fill our waterbottles. Just after lunchtime we reached Krstac pub where we order a salad, without tomatoes, because they are finished. Not to worry, we will have lots of tomatoes in the week to come and their taste is incredable! At the end of the afternoon we walk into Njegusi village and soon ten wooden cabins appear in sight. One will be ours for the night. A cold beer and a lovely lamb dinner do us good and we tuck in early fort he night. Tired from walking and all the impressions.
The next morning the sky is grey and we are a little confused about which path to take. Vlatko mentioned snow and the use of gaiters and GPS. We follow the GPS trail for a while and then turn it off the spare batteries. I read the map, but end up taking a different trail than Vlatko had in mind for us. We have some rain, and some snow covered trails, but nothing too difficult and we reach Hotel Monte Rosa mid-afternoon. What a surprise when the receptionist asks us if she would start the jaccusi for us!! Yes yes!!
A long day ahead of us, we make an early start. We entered Cetinje and visited the Monastery. Not in the mood for a museum, we are eager to walk again after a nice lunch. Again a steep climb rewarded with lots of flowers, blossoming fruittrees and even orchids! Passing a house we are waved in and offered a drink. We don’t speak the same language, but make a nice conversation about humming bees and gard dogs. The lady of the house brews us a nice mountain tea and we both buy a kilo of honey. After showing photo’s of our families, we go on our way again to find our place for the night. It is the familyhouse of Balsa, over more than 600 years. He is proud to tell us about it and shows us the paintings of his father, a famous a painter. The rest of the night we enjoy his stories, his raki and the lovely food prepared by his wife.
We sleep well and after breakfast, (fresh yoghurt, what a delight after the raki night ☺) we are on our way for a hike to Skadar lake, where a boatman is waiting for us. Our legs get a welcome rest while we can still enjoy the beuatiful countryside. We are unlucky in spotting Pelicans, but we are taken to a fish restaurant that hasn’t opened for he season yet, but the owner is more than happy to prepare us a wonderful lunch with freshly catched fishes. During the lunch we had a stunning view over the lake. From the restaurant it is another hour and a half by boat to Virpazar old town, and our place fort he night. We find the mountain-tea in a shop and we stroll up the hill to visit the castle. It is closed, but we find a rock in the sun, which gives us a beautiful view and the frogs treat us to a concert. The view over Skadar Lake, the biggest bird sanctuary of Europe, is stunning an we count ourselves blessed.
Breakfast next morning is pommygranate juice and fleshly fried doughballs. Very nice!
Another good start to a beautiful hiking day. We meet Balsa again as he is our driver to the start of this last day of walking. He knows the road by heart. I’m glad to be on my two feet again when we arrive. The road is narrow and curvy and the mountains are steep. Soon we are back on track, together with a flock of goats. They are not panting as I am, climbing up the hill, 700 altitude meters. A green lizzard is posing for us in the sun. We can take his picture. Over more than 400 pictures we took already! Tinned sardines with bread and tomatoes are our lunch on top of Belj. Ridge. What a stunning place with views to lake Skadar on the one side and the Adriatic on the other. Coming down proves a bit of a challenge; 700 altitude meters again and sometimes just a steel cable to hold on to. Just as we enter Stari Bar, Blavor is waiting for us and the last pictures are taken. Just in time, before he escaped into the very old olive trees.
We deceive a large and cold beer in Kula Hotel. We say cheers to the great trip, the hike, our friendship and life overall. How much did we enjoy it!!
Our backpacks filled with honey, olive oil and wine we meet Vlatko again at half past five in the morning. He will drive us back to Dubrovnik Airport. A scenic and enjoyable ride along he coast with lots of stories about the fantastic week we had.
Thank you Vlatko and friends, for sharing your country, stories, food, looks on life and hospitality!!