D+ 67, 2602 km – 18 – 26 may
> Pločice – Kotor – Sveti Stefan – Sutomore – Stari bar < Montenegro by bicycle
Montenegro*. Hm. We thought “on the Adriatic coast, it must be flat!”. Especially since in our most distant memories of history-geography, we never heard of mountains other than the Alps in this area. Well, we can now warn you with full knowledge of the facts: it goes UP!
The Kotor Bay. The arrival was smooth, after an express crossing of 5 minutes by ferry, we were on a small pleasant road along the sea lined with stone houses. And because the temperature is rising as fast as the fatigue in our muscles, the grumpiness is starting to take its place: so after a nice slope at 20% (rest is deserved) we put our bags down for a few days near Kotor – with an amazing view on the bay and our pet cow under the balcony. It’s the first time of the trip that the tap water is not drinkable but -luxury- we have a kettle.
Kotor. We walked around the labyrinthine walled city with its Romanesque churches, its medieval old town, its ramparts that extend high into the mountains (it’s very beautiful from below).
Tourist shops are everywhere: after the classic magnets, key rings, caps, t-shirts, postcards… where only the name of the city changes, there is a particularity specific to Kotor: the cat. All possible formats, representations and supports are there.
After having voluntarily lost ourselves in the meanders of this city, we start to be hungry!
We let ourselves be tempted by a “street food” stand selling salted pancakes. Culinary discovery, unique recipe: cream base, mayo, ketchup, with cheese and/or ham, and pickles! Generous and strangely not bad!
Mountain. Ribs. Sun. (Silence)
Sveti Stefan. Old fishermen’s village south of Budva (a seaside town without much charm, but it seems to be THE spot to party and enjoy the beach at ALL hours), transformed into a big luxury hotel complex (obviously closed). Not very authentic, but it’s THE postcard picture of Montenegro! After the big warmth of the day, we are not against the idea to spend the night in a campsite and enjoy the luxurious pleasures of a shower. Our GPS guides us to the only establishment in the area.
Sveti Stefan. Ancien village de pêcheurs au sud de Budva (ville balnéaire sans trop de charme, mais ça à l’air d’être LE spot pour faire la fête et profiter de la plage à TOUTE heure), transformé en un grand complexe hôtelier de luxe (visiblement fermé). Plus très authentique, mais c’est LA photo de carte postale par excellence du Monténégro ! Après les grosses chaleurs (et vallonnements) de la journée, on n’est pas contre l’idée de passer la nuit dans un camping et savourer les plaisirs luxueux d’une douche. Notre GPS nous guide jusqu’au seul établissement dans les parages.
We find ourselves in a vast deserted space with a view of the beautiful rocky island of Sveti Stefan. Between destroyed sanitary facilities, forgotten caravans, crumbling “recepcija” and abandoned hotels under construction, it is a curious place which contrasts with the surroundings! As we are back down to sea level, the idea of looking for another spot for the night does not occur to us: we have 1 litre of water, semolina and a bag of mayo: saved! We note with a smile that, technically, we are in the law: we are well in the campsite.
After some investigation on the internet, we discover that this “campsite” has not been maintained for several years! And until recently, some rather clever speculators visited the campers in the early hours of the morning to collect the money!
Bartula. We leave the hilly coast to climb (it changes) to Bartula: big metamorphosis of landscapes and atmosphere. We meet dogs, sheep, goats, donkeys through the olive forests. It’s steep and we quickly find ourselves on the heights. There we stop in a small campsite in the middle of nature, reserved for tents. We share this little corner of paradise (a few meters away on a steep path is a natural “swimming pool” in the turquoise river) with Keneth, Nathalie*, water snakes and a few hundred tetras. Of course, the owner of the place, who is extremely friendly, offers us two shots of raki.
*We are very happy to have been able to meet two very nice Belgians who have been travelling around Europe for a year now.
After this oasis of peace, we head for Albania; already the people, the landscapes, the smells and the buildings are subtly changing.