Motorcycle trip from Poland to Croatia and more: Part 4

[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.img_20160814_175054

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.

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The nature..

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.

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Early stop for photos

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.

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20 kms from the border
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A clip grab from one of our movies

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!IMG_20160814_192033.jpg

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.

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Entry into Montenegro

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.

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After our arrival in Kotor, Montenegro

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Motorcycle trip from Poland to Croatia and more: Part 4

  1. Hi Pooja and ekdum namaste. This blog is thoroughly interesting and took me to somewhere where I’ve never been before. Did you need to get a visa to enter Bosnia and Montenegro ? I’ve never been totally comfortable on the back of a motorcycle. I feel far safer when I’m driving myself. I suppose this is normal.

    1. Namaste to you too, Dai! 🙂 No, I didn’t need a visa per se, but it was based on the fact that I have EU residency, so they had to check all the rules and verify my documents thoroughly. I wasn’t that comfortable either, but the trip was so worth it! It brings back such amazing memories, Dai. I really want to go back to the Balkans again.. I am in the process of learning how to drive a car properly so I can’t see which one is comfortable yet :p

      1. I’m far more comfortable in a car and I know I’m very much safer. I’ve lost three friends already to motorcycle accidents. After saying that though, I love driving motorcycles but I would try to dissuade any of my family from having one. I would far prefer they had a car. I have had two motorcycles of my own and even bought a third one in Kathmandu for the family. That was because we have no place to park a car at home and I would never want to leave it out in the field.

  2. Wonderful pictures of this amazing journey.
    I do wonder if I ever dare such trip…well not by motorcycle as I never finished my license but even by car I somehow don’t feel up for the task! For many of the areas they even give warning here because of road bandits and similar 😮 (sounds like the wild west in the USA back in the day 😀 )

    1. Thank you! 🙂
      Yes, it is a long way, but we never felt unsafe in any part of the trip 🙂 I hadn’t even thought about that or checked any travel advisories. Everything went fine; the mountainous roads aren’t that bad (infrastructure wise) either and there were paid motorways in many countries, except I think Montenegro which had really small roads. It was definitely very tiring though! I would have loved to spend at least a week in all the places we visited, but that’s the thing about road trips, there’s not much time for the destinations.. Well maybe next time 🙂

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