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To the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica

Home -> Europe -> Montenegro -> Travelogue Montenegro -> 09 September 2007

Sunday 09 September, to the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica

To our surprise we can have breakfast outside on the roof of the hotel attached to an indoor restaurant for when the weather is bad. But we prefer to sit outside. Just a pity that breakfast is not really tasty: super strong coffee and some sticky sandwiches. That is the beauty of a campsite or an apartment, that you can make your own breakfast. But of course we can also do this in a hotel room, with the right ingredients that of course we do not have with us this morning.
Islands Katic and Sveta Nedjelja near Petrovac Crowded beach, PetrovacFirst we take a walk on the boulevard of Petrovac and when we arrive at the beach it is completely full, just like last night. We already found Croatia so busy, but here it is much worse! Montenegro has less than 700,000 inhabitants on an area of just under one third of the Netherlands. But all those inhabitants and the double number of tourists apparently all live here on the coast. Our idea that Montenegro would be a quiet and forgotten little country in this back corner of Europe, turns out to be an illusion and that is completely in shards.
Harbour of Petrovac Pier of PetrovacPetrovac is located along a bay and has 800 meters of beach along which you can find a nice boulevard to walk. That is why we stroll around comfortably, looking for a place with nice coffee, but unfortunately, here too they only serve very strong bowls of coffee (which I don't like). The beautiful weather and especially the view compensate for the coffee.
Venetian castle Castio Teije on the monumentOn the south side of this small town there is another fortress called Castello (castle), but there is not much information available. There is also a monument that seems to be Russsian. To be sure, I will climb up and there is indeed a pillar with all names in the Cyrillic script and a reference to the 2nd World War. The Montegrenine is very similar to Serbian and can be written with both Latin and Cyrillic letters, but we mainly see the Latin characters that are easy to read for us. Perhaps under the influence of tourism from the west?
Rocky coast, Petrovac Crowded beachThe coast of Montenegro is almost 300 kilometers long, but is mainly rocky. The pieces of beach that are available are completely full, while it already is September and all summer vacations have ended, as far as we know. But there is still a holiday atmosphere and most holidaymakers seem to come from the former Eastern Bloc countries. There are more and more people who can afford to spend a holiday outside the real holiday season, a good sign for the unemployed Montenegrins and for the economy in this area.
Adriatic coastBut we are still a bit disappointed: we expected more rest here after the crowds in Croatia. But it is no different and we can only adjust. In the interior it will be much quieter, we hope. But first we go along the coast, all the way to the south of Montenegro, a mountainous road that takes us up along the coast.
New church near Ada Ada, near the Albanese borderWe drive past the city of Ulcinj and then the landscape suddenly becomes very flat, suspiciously flat, an almost desolate area as the mountains retreat. A straight road through nothing with now and then a house, a new church and furthermore only buildings under construction, probably future tourist accommodation. At the village of Ada we drive to the coast but it is suspiciously quiet there. Here runs a river inland with behind it a large lake that is part of a national park. So all those tourists are not here, but you can count on the fact that this area will becomeg a new Riviera in Montenegro with all-inclusive package deals and things like that. The silence now is probably a silence before the tourist storm.
We drive to the small border post with Albania on a one-lane road that is miles long without us encountering anyone, but the atmosphere is a bit oppressive and we have no idea what it is like at the border with the country that once was the most secluded in Europe. Honestly, we find it quite exciting to drive here, towards the former most Stalinist country in the world where so many criminals seem to come from , if you can believe the media. Just before the border we turn around, it will not be for today, but in our (especially my) head the thought remains that we (I) would like to go to Albania.
Ratislava castle, Ulcinj Ratislava castle, UlcinjOn the way back we drive through the old town of Ulcinj, another historic city with an old city center. Here is also the longest beach in Montenegro but we drive to the fort. When we stop, 2 ladies in a small Polo do the same and they ask if we are looking for a room. They have been driving behind us for a long time and are apparently active tourist seekers. Nothing wrong with that, but we already have a room. After a short and nice chat they go looking for the next potential customer.
Ulcinj is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic coast (it is a Greek colony from the 6th century BC), and has been under Venitian rule for a long time, before it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1571. The fort is being restored and we can not really see much now except for the beautiful view over the azure blue sea.
Cypresses near Podgorica, MontenegroThen we drive north again and turn towards Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. We have to practice on the place name a few times, because frankly we had never heard of it before. From 1946 to 1992 the place was called Titograd, a solid communist name. We have no idea what to expect from such a place. The road to it is beautiful and cypresses are everywhere in the landscape.
Podgorica, capital of MontenegroAl snel rijden we over brede wegen rondom het centrum and het kost niet veel moeite een parkeerplek te vinden. De stad doet een beetje westers aan and bijna een kwart van de bevolking van Montenegro woont hier (wie zijn dan al die mensen aan de kust?), maar wij vinden de brede boulevards and winkelstraten toch een beetje een deceptie. Na de hoofdsteden die we tot nu toe hebben gezien komt Podgorica echt op de laatste plaats te staan. Het is natuurlijk subjectief, maar het is net alsof je een dorp neemt and er wat brede starten in legt, wat grote gebouwen neerzet, een paar winkelstraten neerpoot and voor de rest zoeken ze het maar uit. Het lijkt wel een groot dorp met stadsaspiraties.
Coffee with cream, PodgoricaBut they do have great coffee with a nice whipped cream (real whipped cream!) on top. It is Sunday afternoon and the young people from Podgorica are strolling around, hanging around the many shoe stores. Elisabeth is still looking for a kind of sneakers, but they can not be found here either. We read some travel brochures on the terrace and gradually start to understand something about the complex history of this area. We did not know at all that Montenegro was an independent prince's diocese until 1878, while a large part of the surrounding country (including current Serbia) was part of the Ottoman Empire. After Montenegro was added in 1918 to the kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Montegrins led a fierce guerrilla war against the Yugoslavs while they now peacefully and only after long hesitation have set themselves frfee again. Strange people, these Slavians...
View on Budva View on BudvaThe way back to the coast is a lot more spectacular and it is a pity that we did not have the opportunity to stop to look back at Podgarice from the mountains. From the rear-view mirror we now have a much better view of the city than when we entered it from the southern road. But the mountainous road via Cetinje (the old capital of Montenegro) and especially the view as we approach the coast is making up for that. We drive through Cetinje but because we do not have a real Montenegro travel guide with us, we only realize when we are back home, that we should have looked around a bit more; as an old capital, you can see more historicy here than you would expect when you enter the town. We put it on our list of place-we-someday-have-to-visit-again-and-better!
All new buildings at BudvaBetween Budva and Sveti Stefan we come back to the coastal road and again we notice how much new construction is going on. Who is paying for all this? The government seems to be doing everything it can to attract foreign investors to give tourism a big boost. Many buildings were damaged after the earthquake in 1979 and after the last war the tourists finally come again. Hopefully the local population will also benefit from it.
When descending to the coast we have to be very careful for cows, goats and horses that want to cross the road.
Sveta Nedjelja near PetrovacBack in Petrovac we take a walk along the boulevard and look out on the two islands that lie in front of the harbor: St. Sunday (with the remains of a small chapel) and Katich (where only pine cones grow). The islands give something extra to the town, as if you have a monument in front of your door. The chapel seems to have been erected by a grateful sailor who was shipwrecked and washed ashore on the island.
We gratefully eat our piece of pizza of the day, take a slightly less tasty coffee and walk a bit further along the boulevard. Our thoughts are still with Albania and we decide to make an attempt tomorrow to enter the country and drive a bit. All the way to Tirana seems to be too far and we are not wanting to have a trip as we last had through Bosnia. We just venture it and see how far we come. Now we first sit on the balcony of our room, enjoy the beautiful weather and then go to bed. A new day tomorrow.


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