So it has been a while since we last wrote. With good reason. We have been distracted by so much, that assiduously sitting down at the computer has rated lowly. But we are now back so here goes….
We entered little (yet large) Montenegro with its towering dark peaks dominating the sun-soaked coast that we whizzed along: first to the home of Dolya’s (our friend in London) father in the little seaside hamlet of Djenovici. We kicked off our cycling boots and sat down for the ultimate midday pit-stop (replete with plump juicy mussels, local cheese and olives and exquisite homemade dessert, courtesy of Uncle Mihaelo). A big thank you to the Dragasevic family for their kindness. Dolya, we owe you one!
The temptation to cave into their kind offer of a bed for the night (coupled with bouts of rakia) was intense but a mere 55km in the morning (including the steep hike out of Dubrovnik) would have left us with ever longer days ahead if we were to meet Sam’s dad in Thessaloniki on time. Reluctantly, we waved goodbye to the family and dropped back down onto the coastal road and eastward to the mouth of the Kotor bay.
If time had been kind, we may well have plumped for the 72km trip around the bay with its stunning fjordic views but we settled instead for the 4 minute ferry journey across the bottle-neck entrance to the bay which seemed far more sensible. Take a look at a map of the Montenegran coast and you will see the wisdom of our decision in full technicolour. We nevertheless craned our necks to get a glimpse of the beauty that lay within.
Our day ended with a mighty downhill run into the pleasant seaside fortified town of Budva (no relation to the beer, but yes, we did have some local stuff anyway). A slow puncture on Sam’s back wheel did not dampen our spirits, as Sam was able to change it while in conversation with the larger-than-life Gordana (hostel owner) who curiously had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Peckham! She of course had never there but had, like previous Balkan friends, digested a diet of Only Fools and Horses, when growing up. Her English was accordingly perfect.
Our final night in Montenegro took in Russian hospitality at its finest (vodka and grilled meats) with the kind Gulnara and her family in Bar. New to couch-surfing but a wonderful host who ensured we got our fix of culture by directing us to Stari Bar (the old fortified cliff-top castle) and the 2000 year-old olive tree (Stari Maslina) at the end of her road. The phrase, “The Russians Are Coming” does not apply on this 200km strip of coast. The Russians are already here. Russian holidaymakers (and Russian business) well and truly have their feet under the table in this favourite seaside playground.
And before we knew it, we were peeling away from the Adriatic coast that we had loyally hugged in the sunshine for more than 2 weeks, cutting now inland over blossom-coated meadows and onto the unknown (for us) that is Albania.
The next report will hopefully arrive a little quicker but in the meantime have a look at the photos that we have been assiduously uploading with every sniff of a wifi connection.