Saturday, September 10, 2011

Montenegro, or Crna Gora to the initiated.

Just as Albania is known as Shqiperi to Albanians, Montenegro is actually called Crna Gora, which means the same thing.

We crossed into Montenegro at about 11pm. Soon after crossing the border the bus pulled over for a third 45 minute break, thus ensuring we were 2 hours late to meet our CSer in Podgorica, as well as adequate business for the driver's cousins' pizzerias. On the upside, it was dark enough to get a great look at Jupiter and the pliades.

At about 2am we rolled into Podgorica, met our CSer A and his lovely wife, and promptly passed out. Next morning we got up, said goodbye, and wandered around the city. It has a nice river between parks and is spanned by the sort of bridge used for QC by the designers of Solidworks.

I traumatized yet another waitress by asking for a hot chocolate without milk, and got a glass of hot chocolate syrup - perfect!!

Back at the bus station we got a bus to Kotor with 5 minutes to spare, and enjoyed a spectacular ride through the mountains down to the sea through the southern-most fjord in the Northern Hemisphere. Kotor is built at the head of the fjord between bare rock walls scaled by quasi ruined fortifications reaching to the skies.

At the Kotor bus station I availed myself of the facilities. Like most such places in South Eastern Europe it was a pay-by-use affair. Unlike parallel examples in Turkey or Greece, which are in general spotless, the money paid here appeared to go toward neither maintenance nor cleaning. It's not every day one gets to sit in a stall with the object of one's high fiber diet smeared on every wall, so I appreciated the (hopefully) unique character of the place.

That aside, Kotor was well worth a walk around on the walls and poking around the marina and old town. Soon enough we had to take a bus onwards to Herceg Novi, a town in a similar style whose name means, literally, New Castle. =P

The road wound around the shore of a series of bays dotted with wooded and churched islands, yachts, and filled with shiny blue Mediterranean water.

At Herceg Novi we found a cheap place to stay (with bonus two year old), then headed for the beach. A rather large town of some tens of thousands, a corniche was formed of the former railway corridor. Most of the shore was concrete platforms rather than stone beaches in the communist fashion.

We found a place bathed in afternoon light, and jumped in. The water was nowhere near as clear as the Greek Islands, and somewhat shallower. A few dives cleared up some worrying sinuses, and then we had to climb back onto the platform with a minimum of cuts and scrapes.

We dined at a local place and had the usual healthfood option of fried meat and potatoes. We walked back via Internet and a good view over the old and new cities.

Next morning we woke early, headed to the bus station and got a ticket to Dubrovnik in Croatia. The bus was filled with Russians, and I had a ham sandwich for breakfast.

UPDATE: Photos.

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