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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Montenegro: Land of Adventure

Written by Dale Fehringer
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It was a little unsettling when we received word that the cycling tour in Montenegro we had put a deposit on was cancelled due to insufficient sign-ups. It was just a week before we were to leave for Europe and now we had nowhere to stay and no plans for our time in Montenegro.

What to do?

Thank goodness for the Internet. We found and reserved hotel rooms, and then contacted tour companies in Montenegro. We heard right away from two of them; one was booked for the week and couldn’t help us, but the other was happy to put a schedule together. Marko, who heads Active Travels Montenegro, asked us what we wanted to do and what restrictions we had. Cycling, hiking, and kayaking we told him – with really no limits. Oh, and maybe a boat trip … and how about swimming in the Adriatic Sea? No problem, Marko responded. I’ll work on it and see you in a week.

Marko got to work; contacting guides, arranging bicycles, kayaks, and boats, and lining up excursions. He is a presence; tall and handsome with years of experience in hospitality, and he has carved out a niche in Montenegro as a specialty tour guide. He’s good at what he does.

While Marko was working out the details we headed off to explore the Balkans, in south-east Europe. We spent a week traveling in Belgrade, Serbia; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia. It’s an interesting part of Europe, steeped in history and successfully recovering from communist rule, a civil war, and economic challenges. We were pleasantly surprised by the renovation, modernization, and friendly people. The past is visible with evidence of intrusions, contrasting architectural styles, and urban sprawl; but there is innovation, too, including efficient transportation, up-to-date communications, and a well-developed infrastructure. We were welcomed and the locals seemed to enjoy hearing our accents and helping us. Our hotels were modern and comfortable and staffed with some of the friendliest and most helpful staff we have met, who steered us to good restaurants, interesting museums, and inexpensive shopping.

(A quick note about Split and Dubrovnik – those beautiful and historic Croatian cities suffer from tourist overload as masses of people, including cruise ship passengers and Game of Thrones fans, crowd the walkways, overrun the shops and restaurants, and taint the tourist experience.)

Our ferry boat ride down the Dalmatian Coast from Split to Dubrovnik was a highlight. We stopped at the islands of Brac, Hvar, Korcula, and Mjlet with views of lavender, green trees, and stone houses with red roofs. At Dubrovnik, we disembarked and hired a taxi to take us across the border into Montenegro, to the town of Herceg Novi, our home for the next six days.

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Last modified on Sunday, 31 December 2017

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