Montenegro and Serbia
“Is this your kitchen equipment?” – ask a friendly Scot’s face as she’s peeking inside the tent. It’s early morning in the Montenegran highlands, and we are packing away to start before the heat strikes. Elena found my wild thyme outside, which we frequently pick in those areas, where it grows like a weed. We have met them the day before in Kotor. They were a group of five friends from Scotland, heading to Greece to do some volunteer work. They started from Scotland, so they came a long way. We never saw this big a group cycling together for such a long distance, so this was certainly unique.
As we were going to the same direction to Cetinje up on the switchback road, we were sort of racing each other to the top, and the girls were fast as a hurricane, but it helped that they had road bikes. The long climb to the top was definitely worth it though; as you could see two bays and the sea at once all the way up, making the ride much more enjoyable. Close to the peak there was a bit of a mist sweeping through the mountain, making us isolated and reminding our friends of Scotland. Suffice to say, it gave me the chills and it was beautiful. The next day we parted ways, because they were heading directly to Albania, but we wanted to spend a bit more time in Montenegro and already had a place to say in Podgorica.
On the way we managed to see another exceptionally gorgeous piece of nature in the form of a river bend, but otherwise the ride to the capital was not so interesting and quite easy. We only spent a night there and after a lot of planning and thinking, decided to visit the canyon of the Tara River and peak into southern Serbia to check out an interesting looking national park. It involved a lot of climbing (again), but as always, it was worth it. Even the road to get there was pretty nice, and we had some fun reading some Chinese instructions on a few occasions, because there was a huge highway building project going on, by whom else than the Chinese of course.
The landscape was pretty wild and the mountains and hills were pretty steep all around us, so if we didn’t want to sleep in a construction site, we had to ask for a garden space again. As always, we were blown away by the hospitality of the people in the Balkans, as not only we were gladly invited in, but offered a huge amount of homemade cheese and bread, and the ever so present coffee and cookies. It’s not always perfect however, this time we got a little present from the cats too, looking for a way into our tent where we had some food, leaving some painful marks in the form of tiny holes. Luckily it was nothing major and anyway we have to accept the fact that heavy duty use involves some risks and wear and tear on a long term journey like ours.
The next day we finally got to see the famous bridge of Tara, looming over its namesake river quite high. There was a wide, green valley around the river below the bridge, with lots of cattle grazing, and you can easily walk down to get a good look at the bridge from down below too. Of course getting to a gorge and away from it involves a lot of climbing, but the road was in pretty good shape and not so steep, so we didn’t mind going uphill for long hours (may even allow myself to say that we enjoyed it).