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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Montenegro: Land of Adventure - Page 2

Written by Dale Fehringer
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Montenegro is a 600-year old country on the Adriatic Sea, across from Italy. It’s about the size of Connecticut, with a population of less than 700,000 people. We didn't know where Montenegro was until Donald Trump pushed aside the prime minister of Montenegro to get in position for a photo at the recent NATO meeting. The more we read about Montenegro the more interesting it sounded, so we decided to explore it.

Our home base, Herceg Novi, is a small, historic town on beautiful Kotor Bay, with an appealing old town, beach resorts, and excellent restaurants. We stayed at Garni Hotel Bokeska Noc, a small, family-run hotel with balconies, sea views, fantastic breakfasts, and an easy walk to the beach and downtown. Bozidar, the gentleman who owns and runs the hotel, checked us in, helped with our luggage, and recommended restaurants within walking distance. We were soon seated in a comfy café on the water enjoying a massive platter of octopus, mussels, shrimp, and langoustines. Meals in Montenegro, like hotel rooms, are high quality and inexpensive.

The next morning Marko met us at our hotel and introduced us to Danilo, a local guide and nature enthusiast, who led us up Vrmac Ridge, a 2,500-foot elevation that separates Kotor Bay from Tivat Bay. A stone pathway follows the line of an Austro-Hungarian road from 1860, and we followed switchbacks in and out of pine forests and enjoyed blooming crocuses, wild pomegranates, and fantastic views of the bay below. At the peak we explored a stone fort built in the 1800s by occupying Austro-Hungarian troops. After our hike, we entered the walled city of Kotor for lunch, and then joined Marko for a private tour of the south gate and the ancient stone wall that zig-zags up the mountainside.

On day two we met Janko, our guide for the next two days, who brought bicycles and led us around the peninsula that extends into Kotor Bay. A light rain kept our ride from getting too hot, and it stopped in time for our final downhill ride. Wildflowers bloomed and olives hung from trees near the narrow roads.

Cycling In Montenegro

People in Montenegro remember the 1990s Bosnian War, which followed the breakup of Yugoslavia. Montenegro was caught in the middle and many of its men fought in the war, including Janko’s father. Janko was a boy when NATO forces, led by the U.S., bombed a communication tower across the bay from his home in Herceg Novi. He remembers seeing a missile streak past his house and hit the mountain below the tower. With his father away at war, he and his mother ran to the basement and hid until the bombing stopped.

Day three had us on bicycles again with Janko, this time in the mountains north of Kotor. We cycled on narrow, quiet roads lined with beech trees and moss-covered stone fences, accompanied by sounds of woodpeckers and views of black mountains in the distance.

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Last modified on Sunday, 31 December 2017

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