Montenegro is a relatively new (2007) independent nation nestled between Albania, Croatia and Serbia. It is a country rich in natural beauty and seems steps ahead of it neighbours in terms of infrastructure, cleanliness and environmental attitude. We could have cycled through in a day and a half, but it begs for more time.
Like it’s European neighbours, Montenegrin immigration is a piece of cake. In fact the Albanian and Montenegrin border post is combined, one of the first of it’s kind in the Balkans. We were quickly stamped in and let loose to enjoy the stunning beauty that is Montenegro.
Part way down the road we bade Sara farewell. She was off to look for a burial site of a Rabbi further down the coast. We continued on through farmland, olive groves and small roads that gave us glimpses of the coastline below. It was a perfect sunny day and it felt amazing to be alive and cycling through this delightful landscape.
In the afternoon we descended to the coast. Here we lunched and dipped in the ocean, discovered a ruined castle and accidentally stumbled upon a beat. We were wondering what all the half naked men were doing, sunning themselves and moseying about, and refreshingly paying us no attention. You never know what a day of cycling will bring!
Night time bought us to Budva, where we found a very cute hostel nestled right in the heart of the old town. The hostel was much better value than the campground we had looked at further up the road and soon we were sharing beers and conversation with the owner and other travellers. A note for anyone travelling through the Balkans, the hostels here are super nice (the ones associated with the Balkan Backpacker thingy) and affordable compared to other parts of Europe. Usually we wouldn’t stay at hostels, but ever since the great experience we had in Tirana, they tempted us. They are not part of a big chain and appear to be owned and operated by locals.
One day in Budva is not enough if the weather is good. After a look around the quaint old town in the morning we headed to the beach to swim and relax. The evening was spent chatting to other travellers once more.
A visit to Montenegro is not complete without visiting the stunning Kotor Bay. It was a short pedal up the coast to Kotor the next day and we spent the afternoon exploring the old town and climbing up to the ruins high above the city. From here to you have stunning view of the surrounds.
Our last day in Montenegro saw us deciding to add 20km to our day by cycling around Kotor Bay. Well worth it! We also decided to treat ourselves by going to Catovica Mlina, a restaurant half way between Kotor and Herceg Novi. It is rated as one of the best restaurants in Montenegro and just happened to fall right on our path! They even had bicycle parking. We quickly changed into some half decent clothes in the car park and went and enjoyed a really delicious meal. It felt rather indulgent, considering what we usually eat but I certainly don’t regret it. The food was delicious and the atmosphere really lovely.
From here it was a picturesque afternoon cycle to the Croatian border.