Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Full Monte

After leaving the Montenegrin coast, with improved weather we headed for the hills to check out Ostrog Monastery. Our planned route was blocked to due to landslips, but as it turned out, we did a brilliant road instead - kismet! On the way we camped in the mountains with views forever. Next morning a family of Serbians drove by and were asking us about Boris etc. The father wanted to start a drinking session with his home-made plum brandy. Even we thought 9.30am was a tad early.
Serbian Family
The Monastery itself is quite extraordinary, being built into a cliff. Apparently it was built by a miracle, which simply means no-one has any clue how it was constructed! Unfortunately scaffolding man was also there, doing some much needed shoring up and renovation.
Ostrog Moastery


Next stop was the beautiful and vast Lake Skadar. We camped high above the lake in a tiny spot and enjoyed the ever changing colours of the lake. Of course some passers-by stopped. Montenegrins are incredibly interested in Boris, with waves, horn toots and thumbs-up being very common. This was a bit different. First thing we heard was “It’s a bloody Aussie” – in a strong local accent. Turns out this couple had lived in Melbourne for 20 odd years and had returned to live in the capital, Podgorica (Lord knows why – it’s not exactly cosmopolitan).

We spent 2 days driving around this amazing lake, taking photos, looking at birds, and camping in extraordinary spots.
Lake Skadar

Lake Skadara

Lake Skadar

For our Sunday lunch we had delicious fresh brown trout, straight from the lake – simply grilled and accompanied by a curious local wine. From the nose I wasn’t sure if I should drink it or put it on the salad. Bouquet of vinaigrette is not that appealing, but tasted OK.

In short, Montenegro is absolutely stunning!!

Across Lake Skadar is a constant and dramatic background of the snowy mountain peaks of Albania. As it turns out – some things look better from a distance. We are now in Albania and are not exactly enchanted.

It’s a bit of a culture shock, having a very ‘third world’ feel to it. Bad roads, lawless driving, scrawny dogs, bony-arse cows and rubbish everywhere. It’s the rubbish I find most distressing, worse than Sicily.

First night was spent in a campsite that was closed to due a death in the family, but they cleaned a room in the hostel for us so we could have shower and hair wash and Wifi. We spent today driving to Lake Koman. Disappointingly the ferry is not running as this is meant to be the highlight of a visit to Albania. However, the road out there was certainly ‘interesting’. Technically it was a paved road but in such a bad state of repair we felt we were ‘off roading’.
Lake Koman - Albania

The 'Road'

The town of Koman itself was screamingly dull, so we turned around and drove the one and a half hours back. We stopped for a quick lunch on the way - 2 plates of pork, some fried potatoes, pickled tomatoes (yuk), loaf of bread, 2 beers, 2 coffees – 9 euros!

Tonight we are camped at the back of a hotel. It’s a sort of campsite but rather exxy for what is basically a carpark with electricity. However they are doing the washing for us, God know what it will cost. There is also a sweet little dog for me to make a fuss of.

Tomorrow we go in search of the famed spit roast lamb.

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