On the way to Podgorica we stopped briefly in Budva to have a little snack and pee break. The old town is very small, but very pretty. But the structure and mess of the new buildings surrounding the old town are horrible. It looks like gambling is allowed in Montenegro, and therefor one casino is after another.
We were allowed to spend the week with a couchsurfer in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. We were thrilled to meet someone who knows the city and the country. When we entered the address in Google Maps, the destination was the European French School in Podgorica. Well, we had the pleasure to discover the capital city with a Frenchman.
How do you communicate with the locals in Montenegro? Certainly not in French. You usually get along well with English. But not everyone speaks it, but most are willing to try. Pablo could even explain a haircut by using gesture. Retrospectively, we could have gotten through with a few words in German.
The most difficult thing, we found, is to get into conversation with the people - and that was not due to language barriers. In Croatia we learned how open and friendly people can be and we think it would have been the same in Montenegro. The fact that, people generally do not run towards strangers with open arms is perhaps a bit understandable in the recent history of the country.
Virpazar, Lake Skadar
Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula and - depending on the view - the largest lake in southern Europe alongside Lake Garda. The lake is located at the border area between Montenegro, which includes about two thirds of the area, and Albania, which has about a third of the area. To the south-west it is separated from the Adriatic Sea, which is only 20 kilometres away, by the Rumija Mountains, which are up to 1,600 meters high, while on the north-east side there is a wide, partially muddy flat land.
The nature and the lake are gorgeous. We would visit Montenegro again, but in a warmer season that would be more suitable for hiking. November in the mountains of Montenegro is like ours, brrrhh, cold!
The visit to the port city was only on the radar because of the ferry ticket booking. Not no smart website we could get information about the price or the departure dates, everything was somehow vague. Like Swiss, this must be clarified beforehand. We love to travel by train and in another countries, it is much more exciting. Yes, and there is a train from Podgorica to Bar. On a Monday morning, November 25th exactly, we run to the train station, which is a 45-minute walk from our accommodation. We run, because Pablo took the wrong street and we came to the ticket counter just a couple minutes before departure. 14 euros the round ticket, for the four of us, bah!
At the port in Bar the lady confirmed that the last ferry to Italy this year would be on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 and we did not have to reserve our spot nor the cabin.
Now we could visit the city of Bar and the old town, which is 5 km further up. We had now clarified everything 😊. We go to Italy directly and would visit Albania further in the future.
With 19km under our belt we fell asleep very well for the night. But in the middle of the night I woke up, the whole house shook, an earthquake, oh dear! Quickly to the children in the other room, ah all well, they sleep like a stone.
Unfortunately, in the morning we read the news, that heart of the earthquake was in Albania, near Durres were we initially indented to take the ferry to Italy. Somehow, we decided two days before, to take the last ferry from Montenegro to Italy instead of Albania. In our thoughts we are with the people and kind mourn with them. Because a couple days before, a Couchsurfer from Tirana wrote us, to invite us to get a coffee with him. I hope he is well, then I did not hear a word again.
Cetinje is the official residence of the Montenegrin president and was the country's capital until 1918. Therefore, we visited the small pretty town on the way to Bar. The scheduled departure time of our ferry on that day was at 9:00 pm.
At the port we waited and waited. The loading time was 7:30 pm. Since it was the last ferry for this year, more and more cars and trucks came to the harbour and still wanted to get on the ferry.
At 11:30 pm. the ship finally left. The ship swung forth and back, because the wind was very strong. The sleep came anyway, and the ferry came into the port in Bari on schedule! Good night, and good Morning!