[This is part 4 of my recent Euro road trip series. Click here to find the previous parts of the series. ]
After exploring beautiful Mostar and the surroundings, it was time to move on with our journey. The next destination on our packed itinerary was Kotor in Montenegro. Now Montenegro is the kind of country that you don’t hear about everyday, but I knew that it was beautiful and unique and couldn’t wait to visit.
By the time we were done swimming and relaxing in Kravice waterfalls in Bosnia&Herzegovina, it was already 3 PM. According to google maps, we were about 200 kms from Kotor in Montenegro. We thought we could easily cover that in 3 hours or so and have time to go out for dinner in the evening.
We packed all our stuff, put our bike gear on and left the waterfalls site. The entrance to the waterfalls was in a difficult and off-road area, so we found the motorbikes moved (by no less than 4 strong men is my guess) when we went back. It took some time to maneuver them, let the incoming drivers through (all this in a very narrow, steep dirt road..), get the luggage set and communication devices between the riders up and running.
We were ready to enjoy the Bosnian nature one last time before heading into Montenegro. As I’ve written before, the scenery in Bosnia & Herzegovina is just gorgeous. What really blew me away were the vast pastures below that we could see from the mountain roads that we were riding on. The glowing landscapes looked heavenly on that late afternoon. The roads were windy and we had to overtake the big and slow vehicles with much care and difficulty. We recorded a very long GoPro film of this particular section, as it was too beautiful to not capture in some physical state. It was all mountains, small villages, greenery, rivers and those beautiful vast pastures the whole time that made you forget about all the worldly issues.
Usually I ‘d be stiff by that point, but I was really impressed that afternoon. I just didn’t care for a stop to stretch and freshen, but I didn’t know until later that the guys had been searching for a gas station soon after we had left the waterfalls. There were no gas stations to be found as we hadn’t come across any big settlements. That is, until we rode downhill after some 2 hours of leaving the waterfalls and reached what looked like a small city. We found the much needed gas station and it was probably the most basic station that I’ve seen in Europe: it was really small and sold only some water bottles and soft drinks besides the usual vehicles stuff. I was getting hungry but since the sun was about to set we decided to eat meal in Kotor instead. I asked the servicemen how far the border was and was surprised to know it was only 20 kms away.. time had passed so fast. Montenegro is one of the two non-EU countries that uses Euro as currency and luckily for us, the station that was 20 kms away from Montenegro-Bosnia&Herzegovina border accepted the payment in Euros from us.
Then it was some more riding. After we passed the city, there were no settlements. We rode uphill and uphill the mountains as the sun was quickly descending. There was a vast lake (which I thought was sea at the beginning) in between mountains that we could catch few glimpses of from up there. In short time, we were at the border check-point. We had maintained an average speed of just 110-120 kms/h by that point due to the road conditions, so it look us longer than expected to arrive at the border checkpoint.
Bosnian border guards disappeared into the booth with my passport and emerged about 5 minutes later with a smile on their faces and told me that they had seen a Nepali passport for the first time in their lives. I assume not many Nepalese have traveled through Bosnia&Herzegovina-Montenegro border by road. I liked how some sheep were casually grazing near the border checkpoint. It was quite lax and by no means a modern, big checkpoint. Until that point, I hadn’t seen any Montenegrin number plates. One of my quirks is that I love noticing the number plates of the vehicles whenever I am on the road and imagining all kinds of things. The most exotic one I have seen so far was a colorful truck from Iran as we traveled through Hungarian highway!
Just few minutes ahead was the Montenegro entry check point. I watched how my Polish travel mates had their documents checked and approved within minutes while the border police with my passport disappeared once again into the office. All vehicles with local, neighboring and EU number plates just passed by after quick checks but we waited and waited for my passport to come back. Montenegro isn’t a part of European Union or Schengen Area but they allow visa free travel up to certain days for EU residents. I assume the border police at land crossings do not come across such cases that often, hence the long wait. By the time the policewoman handed my passport with a Montenegro entry stamp, it was already dark.
The ride through the dark, deserted mountain roads was so thrilling. I love road journeys at night time because it spikes my imaginations, and this journey to me was intense. There’s not much you can do as a passenger at the back of a motorbike anyway. You just observe your surroundings and enjoy the moments.
What surprised me was that we never came across any towns or villages, just a couple of dimly-lit houses in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t even feel like I was in a new country. Just somewhere far, far away from civilization. Once in a while there were lonesome restaurants and petrol stations with just one or two cars parked out front, it was so surreal. I hadn’t known that the mountains were almost uninhabited in Montenegro.
We rode that way among the mountains in the dark for about 2 hours (very low speed limits..). I can only imagine the sights we could have witnessed had it been at daytime. Wild mountains all around you. Shortly after I experienced one of the best travel moments of my life: as we were riding downhill, we caught the view of the WHOLE country, illuminated settlements surrounding the Adriatic sea, and the sea surrounded by dark mountains. Just magical. No wonder the name of the country: Monte- mountains and negro-black came to be. I had been wondering the whole time if this country had just 5000 people, but when we saw the entire country from the mountains as we descended, my heart leaped with joy at such a spectacular sight.
By the time we were at the sea level, I could see houses, shops, people and restaurants. The sea water looked very clean too, just as I had seen on the numerous google images. The roads were however just two-lane, so it didn’t exactly look so comfortable to drive on.. Due to some confusion from the GPS, we stopped at a town 30 minutes before Kotor and contacted our host to tell that we were at the destination. But it turned out that we were not, so we just went ahead until we were sure (wasn’t easy even with GPS!) that we were in Kotor. We were received by our very friendly Montenegrin host lady and led to the apartment which had a phenomenal view of the sea and town from the balcony.
I thought of how magical the evening and night had been for me, despite the exhausted physical state, as we strolled along the very lively seaside promenade.
Kilometers covered on 4th day: 260 kms
Hours on the road: 8
Total kilometers covered from starting point(Lodz): 1775
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for follow-up stories on the trip.
Update: Click here to read part 5 of the trip.