Wednesday, October 03, 2012

holidays 2012 - day 08: coast, lake, riverside

most of the night in our austrian corner (there are three other austrian parties in this part of the campsite) at camp maslina is sleepless for me: it is so windy that my side of the tent is occasionally pushed right into my face, and of course it's noisy, and i am rather cold as well. it isn't until well into the small hours that i actually fall into a deep sleep. it doesn't exactly help that our newly bought mattress seems to have a hole somewhere and therefore it's no longer quite as cosy in the tent ... still, we wake up in montenegro and not oz. unfortunately, we wake up to an overcast and still very windy morning - so much for the "eternal sunshine" promised to us repeatedly after the big rain. therefore, instead of spending a lazy morning at the beach, we decide to pack up and do the highly recommended monastery route along the western shore of lake skadar.

before we leave, we chat with the people at the campsite - the owner used to live in germany. friends of the owners from žabljak are visiting, mina and his son novica, who run a campground and rent out rooms in durmitor national park's main town. mina also used to live in germany, and he's a very talkative, genial guy. he hands us his business card, since we are going to žabljak soon anyway. eventually we say goodbye and drive towards vladimir, which we are, of course, already familiar with. sometimes, however, it is not quite clear where to go ...

road to pretty much nowhere

of course we cannot pass by without another sign enhancement. this time it's the albanian name of vladimir, katerkollë, which reminds us of kater carlo (the german name of disney's black pete):

vladimir aka kater carlo

past vladimir, however, we take a different route. we are once again close to the albanian border, but then turn away from it to follow the road along lake skadar. however, the road is not actually next to the lake, it's (of course, this being montenegro) several hundred metres above the lake. it's definitely a very lonely area, rather poor, too. the road twists and turns, all around us there's macchia and trees, and to the left the mountains tower above us - between lake skadar and the sea, the highest peak nearly 1,600 m above sea level!

at one point we find ourselves driving along an avenue lined with old chestnut trees - kind of unexpected, and very beautiful. there are various moslem graveyards, some of them barely big enough for half a dozen graves - it almost looks as if everybody had a family graveyard out back! we stop at an older, bigger one to take a few pictures. most names are albanian, not surprisingly, as albanians are the majority in this part of montenegro. i've never actually seen headstones quite like these. i love visiting graveyards when i travel, there are such differences between cultures and religions!

grave with chimney?

our route offers gorgeous views of lake skadar glittering in the sun that has come out around midday. the guidebooks say there are only two places where you can actually access the lake, and when we spot a godforsaken village somewhere at the foot of the mountains, we think this might be one of the places, and drive down the patched-up road. a few inhabitants curiously ogle us - i'm pretty certain that austrian cars are rather a rarity here. it turns out that it is impossible to access the lake here. strange - to live so close to it and yet to be unable to get to the shore! so back to the main road, and very soon we find the turnoff to murići, which splits into several streets, then unites again further down, only to split once more ... but all these roads seem to lead to the lake.

big lake, big sky, little village

donkeys and mules are parked next to cars, goats block the road, a mosque greets us with a simple minaret, elderly inhabitants nod or wave, and some baby clothes on a line are the only sign of young life in this place in the middle of nowhere. there is no shop, the guidebooks say a van comes a few times a week to sell essential things. the area must be very poor - that is confirmed later in conversations. what kind of work would one do here anyway?


by the lake a few people want to sell us a boat trip to the monastery on a small island just off the coast, but we know that we don't really have time for such a trip this afternoon. and this is about all there is of murići as the monastery route's touristic centre. sitting in the café down by the shore, we bump into our campsite neighbours from camp maslina, two girls from stuttgart, one of whom is based in kitzbuehel, austria. we chat for a while, tell them of the campsite in žabljak we're heading to, then watch some crazy puppies at play, walk along the shore for a bit, and then make our way back up to the main road.

off with its head!

more gorgeous lake views are in store for us along the sunny way to virpazar - whenever we think "this is the last time we're stopping and getting out of the car", we're wrong. and is it any wonder?

blue-greem beauty: lake skadar

wetlands and mountains

my mind's made up to do a lake skadar boat trip next time i'm in the neighbourhood, i would so love to see turtles and pelicans and get views of the surroundings from the lake.

what we do spot, however, is a dog turned to stone :-)

stone dog

we drive north, past the capital podgorica (also something for next time), towards nikšić, home of the local beer. the road cuts across the central lowland plain here - a geographical feature that strikes us as odd in this mountainous country. i also spot monastery ostrog far, far above the plain, a white toy tucked into the sheer face of rock. not quite knowing where to stop for the night, we decide to keep our eyes open for any signs of rooms for rent or a campground, though we don't really expect to find one here. but we do - and it's a chance discovery of a real gem. it's called "riverside", and is located by a quiet little creek just off the main road from nikšić to žabljak, near gornje polje.

it's a tiny little campground - and a dutch couple are the only guests apart from us, there beside the black water, under the apple trees. we spend quite a while talking to the incredibly friendly employee, both this evening and the next morning, as his english is very good and he seems to enjoy a good conversation. he answers a lot of questions about montenegro, its politics and development, and he tells us of the "riverside" project: the restaurant is all wood and rocks and has existed for a little while, but this is the first year the campsite is open. the next step is to make changes to the restaurant building in order to be able to run the restaurant all year. as it is now, the restaurant is open to one side. it is such a cosy place, with sofas and colourful throws, armchairs, mismatched chairs, an old typewriter on the long wooden bar, album covers on a wall, old tools on the walls ...

essential: bar with typewriter

outside there's another little building under weeping willows and a single table on a platform, which reminds me of a tree house. the owners are planning to develop the site, make room for more tents, extend the facilities, step by step. it should be interesting to see what becomes of this gorgeous little place.

"riverside" restoran

we are instant fans - and that is even before we have had our dinner. there is no menu, but we are told there is "fish, beef, veal, lamb, pork" and we can just tell them how we want it done. we both go for the fish with potato salad - and get two delicious trout each, with a generous portion of potato salad and bread. for a mere €8 each! i can't finish my portion, and even heinz is so full that there are leftovers on our table for once. outside, it's clear skies with lots and lots of stars - and no wind.

photos of day 08

No comments: