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Montenegro, A Gem

May 27, 2016 5 Comments

We came in from Kosovo, in mountainous terrain, the border posts are about 5km apart. So you get out of Kosovo (easier than catching a train in Sydney!) and drive for some time and think, “I wonder if Montenegro really care if you have arrived?” But you look at the sides of the road and agree that only a randy brown bear could get off this road, so on you go. A few corners later, and bingo, you’re there.

You drive up to a little booth, like a road toll booth. Lynn gives them our passports, some play acting later, and we’re in Montenegro. But, the car has to have impact insurance, 15 Euro’s for 15 days. (Better than Macedonia, 49 Euro’s for 15 days).

We park, walk over to a booth where a sleeping, chain smoking garden gnome looking insurance salesman relieves us of our cash. We get a pamphlet, and the customs guy back at the booth doesn’t even want to know about us any more. 15 minutes – tops! 12 are for the car green insurance, compared to 7 hours getting into Uzbekistan!!

There’s not a lot of money in the villages in the mountains. We’ve found (been told), the men’s job is to get out of the house, sit around all day, smoke, play chess, drink coffee and water, and keep away from home. The women work in the house and yard all day.

Muslim areas, the blokes wonder off 3 times, in answer to the call, to prayer. Outside villages, ditto for the gals, but the men are shepherds, and stand with their sheep, goats, cows all day. Watch them eat. Use a stick to reduce the number who stray onto the road. If there’s paddock grass to be cut, the girls pull more than their weight there. We’ve seen an increasing amount of machinery, including a ubiquitous EMF 539 red tractor, which is a knock off of a grey Fergy, TEA 20. We’ve seen some brand new ones!!

A lot (60%) of grass cutting is done by hand, with a scythe, and they are very good at it!

Camping in Montenegro

Camping on the Beach in Montenegro

Currently we’re on a beach, on the Adriatic Sea, just north of a place called Bar. We’re about mid length of the country’s exposure to the coast. As we head north, we run into the bigger population centres, and campsites like this one are going to be hard to get onto.

We’ve befriended a Russian expat, philosopher/musician. Lived here for 5 years, with his wife. He’s a very funny man. Uri is his name. We’ve spent a few hours today, on the beachside, in the sun/shade, talking about the English language, the Russian language and all areas in between. For an engineer, who looks at numbers, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Smokes here are 1 1/2 euro a pack, but someone in hospitality earns 10 euro a day. Vegetables are cheap, say 1/2 Australian costs, but a whopping 20 times dearer than Albania.

The cities here are busy, with plenty of building going on. Plenty of hardware stores receiving truckloads of gear, with big busy yards. Kosovo was like that, lots of things happening.

The Russian and his friends have an expression for the locals. Translated it means “just chill”. Why do it now, won’t go away, give it some thought and try later, a little slower, please. This seems pretty accurate for the small villages, Bonny Hills?, but the cities were far more active.

This is our second day here, and yesterday we had a heap of visitors looking us over. “All the way from Australia, with your car – holy shit” seems the common theme.

It turns out that this part the beach is nude sunbathing!! and if we were here in summer, few short weeks, the cops would have moved us on. The security risk here is Albanian and Romanian gypsies. But we haven’t met any.

Lots of Russian, Ukrainian and Polish holiday-makers here, for the past few years. The Russian roubble under Putin has done very badly. It has halved against the euro in 5 or so years, so they have less visits.

Their currency and Kosovo use the Euro, which, while more expensive, is easier. Albania use the Lekke, which is about 100 to the Aussie dollar.

Time to top up the glass of red, from Bulgaria. Melnik. (In Russia, melnik describes a maker of flour, or a miller). Bet you didn’t know that!

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  1. Jan Dennis says:

    Hi Alan & Lynn, good to see u’re back on the road again. Yr story will hit the printing press in about a fortnight and go out twds the end of the month. Look frwd to continuing to read all about yr fabulous travels. Stay safe. Bet the summer weather will be nice!! Cheers and best wishes Jan Dennis

    • Judy Veitch says:

      Hi, Jan, wondering in which publication the Taylor-Armstrong story will appear?

      • Jan Dennis says:

        Judy, the story will appear in Mid North Coast NOW magazine which will be inserted into all the Fairfax mastheads from Forster to Nambucca. So locally that’s the Camden Haven Courier, Port News & Wauchope Gazette.

      • Jan says:

        Sorry Judy, only just saw your post. The story is in Mid North Coast NOW magazine, which is inserted into Fairfax papers from Forster to Nambucca Heads. If you need a copy and you live in the area, call in to the Port News or CHCourier office to pick up some more.

    • Alan says:

      Hi Jan,
      That’s great. The weather was unseasonally cold and wet for a week or two, but it is perfect now. We are in Slovenia, just been to a cave you could fly an aeroplane in, absolutely amazing. It was carefully lit using white LED lighting, which preserved the natural colouring of the calc. (The Chinese use multi colour disco lights to emphasize their caves.)
      Just about to trot downstairs and taste the local beer, we’re in the capital, so we stay at pensions etc. while there.
      If the mag is on the web, can you please send the address and I’ll look it up.
      Good to meet you, all good here, people are as friendly as you could imagine.

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