Mountainous Montenegro4 Posted by b_puliti - October 3, 2014 - Bike Tour, Montenegro, Sights, Travel
We crossed into Montenegro from Croatia under overcast skies that would follow us throughout our time here. A day before, Justin had been discharged from the hospital for severe heat exhaustion/dehydration, so we pedaled just 30 kilometers our first day in the country to an apartment in Herceg Novi, a beautiful small town at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor. As a storm rolled in, we ventured out to stroll the seaside walkway and watched as rough waves washed stacks of chaise lounge chairs away. The following day, threatening weather couldn’t hide the country’s beauty, and we were soon surrounded by the breathtaking bay whose backdrop of impressively tall mountains jutting from the water and soaring past the clouds made us pause for photos more than a couple times. We opted to ride around the water instead of taking a ferry across. It was a good decision that made us bump into a few other bike tourers: Tim, a friendly fella from Rochester, New York, no less! And a wonderful Australian couple traveling the world for a year via tandem. It’s not every day we run into English-speaking people who are doing the same thing we are. As we were staying in the same town as the Aussies that evening, they invited us over for dinner. We enthusiastically swapped info and continued on our way. The woman who collected our room money also worked at the church/tower and told us we could climb it free of charge! We could have stayed up there soaking in the beautiful bay view forever. But, we had dinner plans! That night with our newfound friends, we toasted to our adventures—both of which had been propelled by a serious health event. We chatted about life on the road—both parties relating to each other's quite literal ups and downs. And as they were headed west and us east, we swapped must-see towns, islands and Warm Showers hosts. It was fun to have somewhat "normal" plans as we've been living such unconventional lives these past few months! We even brought drinks and dessert like proper houseguests. As the evening came to a close, we were warned about a 26-switchback climb waiting for us the following day. It was worth it simply to be afforded this view. The last third of the climb brought with it a violent storm, and as we crested the summit and started our descent, the heavy rain showed no signs of letting up. The chilled air cut through our sodden clothes. Too cold to continue, we took cover under the roof of an abandoned-looking restaurant. After about a half hour, a car pulled over and told us the restaurant was actually in operation. Justin ventured into the rain, eventually found the entrance, and walked into a dimly-lit dining room where a waiter, bartender and owner were smoking cigarettes around a table. He inquired about the town we had set out for and was informed it wasn’t as close as we had hoped. The owner offered up the apartment above the bar for rent. As it was approaching dusk, and we were soaked and chilled to the bone, the large, smoky-smelling apartment--which offered hot water, warm blankets and satellite television that delivered Workaholics in English--was an oasis. We even negotiated dinner and breakfast into the deal! We awoke from our impromptu mountaintop lodging the next morning just in time to watch the sunrise undercast burn off. As we thought might be the case, the English-speaking owner had left the night bbefore, leaving us to fend for ourselves. The only employee there in the a.m. didn’t speak English, didn’t know who we were and didn’t know why we wanted breakfast for free. After a game of Pictionary (Justin acquired a piece of paper and pen from the bar and drew a bed, a plus sign, a plate and silverware, an equals sign and the total cost we were asked to pay the night before. It worked!), we were served a platter of homemade meats and cheeses. We ate the cheese with some bread and honey and took off. We pedaled through beautiful small mountain towns the following day, where villagers sold bottles of unlabeled liquid from their homes. As it approached dusk, we found few options for pitching our tent and ended up sleeping off the side of the road just before the Albanian border. Though we had heard wonderful stories of Albania from other bike tourers who had ventured there, the Montenegrins we met had no kind words to say about their neighbors. None of them had ever visited the country when we asked. Fear of the unknown got the best of me, and it was a restless night's sleep.