01 Apr Montenegro
The border official on the Montenegro side studied our passports and remarks that we have come a long way on our bikes. Since there are hardly any cars at the crossing, he took his time and asked us about our route and our experiences traveling. Then, with a big smile, he stamps our passport and exclaims very enthusiastically: “Welcome to Montenegro!”
We continued to follow the coast, which was still very beautiful and scenic. The people were still just as nice and friendly too. The only change we noticed soon after crossing the border was the heavy use of automobile horns.
It seems one of the first lessons in driving school here must be to locate the horn and to learn to hunk it frequently for all kinds of different reasons…
See a car passing with oncoming traffic?- honk the horn!
Want to pass with oncoming traffic?- honk the horn!
See a friend walking? – honk the horn!
See a friend driving? honk the horn!
About to pass a cyclist? – Honk the horn as a friendly warning to hold the line!
See a cyclist? – Honk the horn, wave and give thumbs up, and keep honking until cyclist waves back!
Actually, just honk the horn in case there may be some reason, that you might have forgotten to honk horn for!
Yet, we found all the honking, waving, and thumbs up very entertaining, at least until our arms finally got too tired from waving back.
The coastline was a little more hilly, and the temperatures have been rising. So when we rode past a small little campsite outside of a village, we decided to stop in the mid-afternoon to set up camp. We really enjoyed being the only campers at the site. We set up our chairs and just listened to the birds around us and soaked up the sun, before going into the village for a beer and internet.
The next morning, we took our time to pack up and continued along the coast toward Kotor Bay. The very rocky mountains lining the bay, all the small little villages, and the dark blue water are so beautiful, that we stopped frequently to admire the view.
As we find our way into the old town of Kotor, we take a break to eat our lunch on a couple of park benches. A little boy comes by and asked for food, so we share our sandwich with him. While looking around we notice a huge fortification on the mountain behind the old city and talked about how great it would be to hike the place.
It didn’t take us long to make up our mind to stay the night in Kotor. We found a hostel in the old part of town, which conveniently had a fully equipped commons kitchen for us to use and it had a grocery store nearby. Also the price was very nice, only 7 Euros each and the location was perfect!
After settling in we went on a very steep, but beautiful hike up to the fortress. On our way down, the path led us though a window in the ruined fortress wall to the backside of the mountain. We passed a very cute little chapel and waked down countless switchbacks back into town.
We also met two Belgium cyclists who are cycling from Georgia up to Norway at the hostel. After hearing all kinds of mixed stories about traveling through Albania, ranging from Albania being a beautiful laid back country, to Albania being the wild west of Europe, where car drivers get shot at at night, it was nice to get the info straight from two cyclists that just traveled through there. The two felt that Albania is not any more dangerous than any other place and gave us a couple of pointers on the road conditions and a possible route before departing.
Along our route were a lot of wild boar crossing signs; yet, all we have encountered were a few donkeys and what seemed like stray horses grazing along the roadside. However, none of the animals were neither bothered, nor impressed by us and just kept on grazing while we rode by.
After another long day of riding, we began looking for place to wild camp for the night. Unfortunately, the closer we rode to Albania, the more farmland and fences we encountered, which made it pretty much impossible to find a spot.
Roughly 7 miles from the border and right around nightfall, we decided to take a room in a little, but very busy village. We treated ourselves to an amazing tasting pizza and beer before calling it a night.
Tomorrow it is nearly 7 miles of mostly downhill and into Albania!