Days 7-8 - Croatia to Montenegro
I got to Split in Croatia the previous night. Plan for today was to ride South along the coast and get to Dubrovnik, and then to Bosnia or Montenegro.
This was the route I did that day:
Soon after I left Split the views were amazing:
Views were like this for good few hours. I was riding along the coast and got to a point where Bosnia splits Croatia in two parts at the coast. So I had to cross this small part of Bosnia to continue to Dubrovnik. When I got to the border it was pretty busy but managed to get through in about 15 minutes. I wasn’t sure if I would need any extra documents like green card but they didn’t ask for anything.
After 10 minutes got to the second border, to get back into Croatia. There was quite a big queue at first but it was just some truck blocking everyone. Once he got out the way everyone went through quickly so it also took 10 or 15 minutes.
It was really hot so I wanted to find some beach and go for a swim to cool down. I kept going towards Dubrovnik until I got there. There was a petrol station with a bit of shade so I stopped to get a bottle of cold water and sat in the shade for a while. It wasn’t helping much though so got back on the bike and went towards the coast.
There didn’t seem to be any easy way to get to the beach. Parked my bike in one of the side streets quite high uphill, as everywhere lower down was completely mobbed. But I wasn’t sure about leaving it there with all the luggage as in busy town it could easily get stolen. Plus it was really hot. If I left my bike there I would need to walk back all the way uphill later wearing my bike jeans and bike jacket (didn’t want to leave these strapped to the bike).
It took me quite a long time to decide what to do. I’m not a big fan of big, mobbed towns. I much prefer quiet, scenic roads. Even when I actually want to go into the cities and see something, like Old Town in Dubrovnik, as soon as I get into the traffic of busy city streets I just want to get back out.
Eventually I decided to get back on the bike and get back on the road. I stopped when I was passing Walls of Dubrovnik but didn’t manage to get any good pictures.
I’m not trying to put anyone off travelling to Dubrovnik. The main purpose of travelling by bike for me is to try new roads and explore the scenery. Sometimes I get into big towns wanting to explore them a little bit but it isn’t my main purpose. In the end if I wanted to explore the cities I could just fly there instead. Some cities are easier to explore by bike and some are not as easy. When I end up stopping at the traffic lights every 30 seconds and in heavy traffic that is hard to get through even on the bike, I end up feeling suffocated and just want to get back on the open road as soon as possible.
Here’s the video from first part of the day:
After I left Dubrovnik I didn’t have any specific plan. I was desperate to find somewhere to go for a swim to cool down. Eventually I found nice beach in Srebreno, about 20 minutes from Dubrovnik.
It was a great relief when I finally got into water. Really didn’t want to go back out but eventually after about an hour or so I got back on the bike. Didn’t have any specific destination in mind but decided to head to Montenegro through Bosnia.
It was about 15 minutes to the Bosnia border. It was half 5pm already so I was hoping to get though quickly and find some place to camp in Montenegro. At the border I had to buy a Green card – insurance for riding in Bosnia. I was pretty sure I didn’t need this – my normal, British bike insurance covers me in most of the European countries including Bosnia, and a list of these countries (including Bosnia) was printed on my insurance documents. But they didn’t accept it and I had to buy their Green card either way.
It was 30 euro. I was sure I had some euros in cash in one of the pockets but I couldn’t find it and there was no option to pay by card. I checked all the pockets and I had no idea there they gone. Wasn’t sure what to do. I was even considering catching overnight ferry to Italy instead.
I checked all pockets again, and.. Found some notes. They were not euros though, but 30 Irish pounds, as I was in Northern Ireland to see bike racing North West 200 a week or two ago. It seemed like my last resort to offer Irish pounds as a payment, and they accepted it! I was pretty sure they wouldn’t, as I’m sure they won’t be able to to exchange Irish pounds in Bosnia (English pounds are easy to exchange everywhere but I could never exchange Scottish pounds abroad and I’m sure Irish pounds are as hard to exchange as Scottish).
They started filling the paper while asking me lots of unnecessary questions apart from normal questions like where I’m going and why am I going to Bosnia (they said that there is no point going to Bosnia as it’s not interesting at all, with which I disagree), they were also asking why am I travelling solo while smiling in a strange way at me and smoking inside this tiny room where they were sorting the Green card with smoke going in my face (I hate when people smoke this close to me).
Finally after nearly one hour they gave me the Green card and my documents back and I continued to Montenegro. I knew that I would probably need to buy Green card for Montenegro as well. By the time I got to Montenegro border I remembered where I put my euros though and it went very smooth, much easier than the previous one. Probably the fact that I remembered where I put my money this time has helped a lot. Plus this one was 20 euros, not 30.
Here’s the video from riding through Bosnia to Montenegro border:
Views were amazing but it was after half 6pm already and sun was going down. I continued riding straight towards Niksic but was hoping to find a place to camp well before Niksic. I didn’t see any camping signs and I couldn’t find any campsites nearby on my phone. Road was still very scenic. I came round the corner and there was a restaurant on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere. What drew my attention the most though was a small camping sign in the corner of bigger sign with the name of the restaurant. I pulled over and walked in.
Screenshot from Google street view as I didn’t take any pictures myself:
I walked in and asked if they speak English. There was a guy around my age, maybe slightly younger who spoke English well. I asked if there is any campsite nearby, as I noticed the sign and I’m looking for place to camp. He said that there are no campsites nearby but I can camp near the woods across the road if I want.
(Another screenshot from Google street view):
It was perfect. I had some mixed feelings though because it was quite a busy road and I didn’t want cars passing by seeing me. But it was getting dark anyway and I could just hide between the woods. I decided to stay here – if I didn’t, I don’t know if I would find another place like this.
We walked back into the restaurant and they asked if I want some home made cake and a coffee. I was pretty hungry so I said, sure. They were so nice. I wanted to pay but they wouldn’t take any money. They also said that I can put my bike inside the building across the road overnight so that it’s locked in and safe.
I went to put my tent up before it got completely dark and then went back into the restaurant. Apart from the guy who spoke English, there were few of his family members and his friend who didn’t speak English very well. The guy who spoke English (Novica) had to go back to Niksic but we added each other on Facebook and he said that he can show me some nice places in Montenegro the next day. He had to go to another job in the morning but invited me to a small coastal town where his family had another restaurant about mid-day the next day, after his work.
After he left I still sat inside with his friend for a small while as he was staying there overnight. He didn’t speak English though and eventually I went to my tent.
I had mixed feelings about tomorrow. They were all so nice, but at the same time I shouldn’t trust anyone that easily. At the same time though, who knows the area better than the locals? I really didn’t want to turn this offer down. We agreed to meet at mid-day the next day in Perast.
I had few hours to kill in the morning, so I decided to ride to Ostrog Monastery – church in the rock recommended by them.
As soon as I left Konoba Krivokapic – restaurant across which I camped last night, breathtaking views continued. Slansko Lake at 8am:
And then continued to Ostrog Monastery. Church in the rock:
The road to Ostrog Monastery was challenging, probably some of the sharpest, 180 degree turns I have ridden. The scenery on the way was spectacular.
Video from ride to Ostrog Monastery is at the bottom of this post.
After that I started heading to Perast, as it was nearly 2 hours ride to get there.
Again, views didn’t disappoint:
Got to Perast around mid-day. Found Otok Bronza restaurant where I met Novica. This restaurant was also owned by his family. I met his dad there who was also really nice. We sat outside for a while and then went for a walk around Perast.
Perast is a tiny coastal town – you can walk from one end to another in less than 10 minutes. In this tiny town there are 19 (!) churches (17 Catholic and 2 Orthodox) and 19 palaces. There are also two small islands – Our Lady of the Rocks, which is the most popular and open to public, and Island of Saint George which has the ruins of the monastery from 12th century and is closed to public.
In this tiny town everyone knows each other, and the guys who were taking tourists to the islands by boat (well, the Our Lady of the Rocks island only as that’s the only one open to public) happened to be Novica’s friends. They took us to the Island of Saint George, the one that’s closed to public.
Below are two islands, the one on the left is Island of Saint George and the one on the right is Our Lady of the Rocks.
The view back onto Perast – you can see how small this town is. Almost the whole town is in this picture.
And here’s me on the Island of Saint George:
It was getting a bit cloudy and started raining a little bit but then stopped and the sky cleared completely – back in Perast:
We hanged around the town for another while and I met most of the locals. After a while sky got cloudy again and it started raining. We went back to the restaurant where Novica’s dad made us food. Again, I wanted to pay but they wouldn’t accept any money. They were one of the nicest people I have met during my travels so far.
I absolutely fell in love with Montenegro, both because of people and the scenery. I have traveled to almost all of the European countries and Montenegro is definitely one of the best, if not my favourite.
Left Perast around 4pm. It was still raining a little bit, but I couldn’t wait till it stopped, I had to move on. I wanted to see Kotor and then ride more in-land of Montenegro.
Here’s the video from ride to Ostrog Monastery, Perast and Kotor:
After Kotor I didn’t really have any specific destination in mind. I wanted to ride more in-land of Montenegro and back to Bosnia. I rode more in-land for the next couple hours before it started getting dark. Weather continued to be not so good. After I left Kotor the road was scenic but it was very misty higher up. There were some roadworks on the road and in some of the tunnels with temporary traffic lights in few places.
At first rain was light so I never put my waterproofs on, but it got heavy at some point and by the time I found a place to stop to put them on, I was already soaked. It was not the worst yet though. At some point the rain turned into thunderstorm and rain got properly torrential – the most torrential rain I ever rode in. I was all soaked and I didn’t fancy camping all wet. The nearest city was Podgorica – the capital of Montenegro, so I was hoping to find some cheap room there.
Somewhere between Kotor and Podgorica:
When rain stopped I went on one of the hotel booking websites, found some cheap room and went straight there. The house was owned by a woman who was renting spare rooms. She didn’t speak English but there were two Serbian guys staying there and they spoke English well. Rooms were rather basic but that’s all I needed. The woman who owned the house let me to put my bike inside the room on the ground floor, opened by sliding glass door so I didn’t have to leave my bike on the street.
Once I got into my room and hanged wet clothes to dry, went straight for a shower as I was getting desperate for it. Then sat in the living room with Serbian guys and the woman who owned the house. She was trying to suggest me places to see – was struggling to explain but with the help of the guys and some maps I noted Tara Canyon and Zablijak as places to visit on my way through Montenegro before I get to Bosnia.
After a while she went to her room and one of the guys made a soup – goulash which was good, and nice of them for sharing with me. We sat in the living room for another while but it was getting late and I was tired, so eventually went to bed.
To be continued..