Tag Archives: Montenegro

Breathtaking Beauty of Montenegro

Saturday, August 29. Today we backtracked through the alpine gorge to return the sea level to experience Montenegro’s coastal beauty.

Our first stop was Cetinje, the old capital city of Montenegro pre-1940s (now it is Podgroica). Cetinje is an open air museum (it reminded me of Colonial Williamsburg) that seeks to preserve the royal capital. Our focus was the King Nicholas I Museum, honoring Montenegro’s last king and his wife who reigned until World War I. Since many of his daughters married royalty Nicholas was referred to as the father-in-law of Europe. The museum displayed clothing, furnishings and personal items as it would have been during their lifetimes. The grounds also contain a tomb chapel as well as a functioning monastery.

Cetinje Monastery. Montenegro.

Cetinje. Tomb church of Nicholas I & Milena. Montenegro.

Cetinje. Tomb church of Nicholas I & Milena (interior). Montenegro.

A few hours later we started descending toward Montenegro’s Budva Riviera, miles of developed Adriatic shoreline.

We stopped at Kotor. Kotor was a 15th century Venetian walled port city. It is laid out as any Venetian town, with palaces, churches, and state buildings, narrow streets and alleys, and fortifications around the city. We were charmed by the city and would have liked more than the hour allotted to it. One of the highlights was lunch, Montenegro calamari and local white wine taken at a street cafe.

Fortifications of Kotor.

The fortifications of Kotor.

The Venetian symbol on the fortifications of Kotor.

Kotor, main gate. Montenegro.

Kotor relief. Montenegro.

Clock tower.

Kotor. Montenegro.

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Roman Catholic). Koyor, Montenegro.

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The ciborium over the altar

Some remnants of frescoes from the early church.

Remnants of frescoes in Kotor cathedral.

Orthodox church. Saint Nicholas. Kotor, Montenegro.

Orthodox chapel. Kotor, Montenegro.

Looking from within the city through the gate towards the Adriatic Sea

Lunch in Kotor.

We continued to modern Kotor and around the Gulf of Kotor which is ringed by cliffs and mountains. It had many scenic views but we did not stop for photos, making us snap them on the move. We saw many people swimming along the ample shoreline. It looked refreshing but our guide told us that due to the unusually hot summer this year the water temp was 85 degrees.

It was a hot and sunny day and we were wearing out as we got to the border crossing into Croatia. There was a long wait at border control making us late getting to Dubrovnik, which is not far from the border. Tomorrow we will have all day in Dubrovnik.

The Majestic Natural Beauty of Montenegro


Friday, August 28. Today we rode along the Tara River. We were treated all day to amazing scenery, from deep gorges to majestic peaks. The Tara River flows through the world’s second deepest canyon, second only to The Grand Canyon. This gave us a real sense of Montenegro, which is 60% mountain area and whose name means “black mountain.” The “negro” or “black” comes from the dark pines that abound in this area. Montenegro is a small country, smaller than Connecticut and with a population of only 850,000 people.

The mountains provide much of the tourism which revolves around recreation, including snow skiing in the winter and camping, hiking and even zip lining in other seasons. Tourism is central to Montenegro’s economy, and we saw evidence in newly constructed lodges and cabins throughout this area. More tourists come to Montenegro each year than the total population. We suspect it is because the prices are so reasonable.

We were also impressed by the clear spring fed glacier lakes. Bottled water is the largest export of Montenegro.

The first stop was to see a glacier lake in Biogradsko National Park, Lake Biograd. It is a beautiful lake, about 3,000 feet above sea level. This is one of seven glacial lakes in the park. It has miles of hiking trails, as well as boats available.

Biograd Glacial Lake.

Our second stop was to see the Durdevica Tara Bridge built in 1940. It has become a destination for tourists who take pictures of the Gorge it spans.
       
There are numerous tourist stands selling food, trinkets, honey and liquors made of the local wild fruits. Industrious companies also offer zip lines and rafting. We settled for sampling a local beer.
      

After stopping for lunch, we entered Dumitor National Park to hike to the Black Lake, another glacial lake at about 3 000 ft. The name sounds ominous but many people go there to boat and swim and the atmosphere was quite festive. We kicked off our shoes to wade expecting frigid water, but it was warm. We hiked around the lake until it was time to return to the bus.

Dumitor National Park. Black Lake. Montenegro.



Getting back to our hotel we went to the nearby town to get supplies including a cabernet made in Montenegro.

Local cabernet.

Local cabernet.

Tomorrow we will travel to the Adriatic coast before crossing into Croatia.

A Monastery in Montenegro

Thursday, August 27. We started the day with another great breakfast on the hotel terrace. Today was to be primarily a driving day to Montenegro.
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We drove several hours, making a rest stop about a half hour from the border of Montenegro, in Shkodra. Shkodra is an ancient medieval town, but also important in the revolution against the Communists. It was a bustling city with a great deal of traffic. Our experience was limited to pedestrian mall with a great many cafes. They were primarily filled with young people. A mosque was on the mall.

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Shkodra mosque.

Shkodra mosque.

We reached the Montenegro border, stopped at the border crossing and went from a country with a Muslim majority to one with a Eastern Orthodox majority. We drove along Shkoder Lake, shared with Albania. This is a fertile area with vineyards and fruit orchards.

Shkodra Lake, Montenegro

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Balkan Alps near Moraca Monastery.

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As we continued we ascended into the Balkan Alps with steep peaks and deep gorges. In time we made another rest stop at a roadside restaurant where we sampled the local grappa. In Montenegro they infuse the grappa with fruit. We tried the apricot and quince. It is strong drink but fortified us for the rest of the journey. Maybe it was the fruit.

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High in the Alps we came to the Moraca Serbian Orthodox Monastery founded in the 13th century. The church is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and a small chapel is dedicated St. Nicholas. It had incredible frescoes and a beautiful crucifix on the icon screen. The grounds were beautifully landscaped backed by high peaks. There were many people there and the monks were attending them. Father Tom wondered how much peace they enjoyed as it was on a busy highway.

Church of the Assumption.

Church of the Assumption.

Facade of the Assumption Church.

Facade of the Assumption Church.

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Gazing heavenward.

Gazing heavenward.

Church of Saint Nicholas.

Church of Saint Nicholas.

We arrived at the ski lodge in Kolasin where we will spend the next two nights (elevation 3000 ft).

Tomorrow we spend the day at Dumitor National Park.