OK, I’m gonna do this one properly. I have time, free Internet, coffee and photo’s – all vital accessories for updating the mighty b.com.
I’m gonna start by jumping back to Montenegro as I somehow managed to skip over most of it despite being one of the coolest places we visited.
We arrived on bus from Podgorica (the capital of Monte) at about 8.30pm and quickly realised that we’d just arrived late, with no reservation in a tourist hot-spot in August. However, a little Bearder-luck and some smooth Slavic-talk from Ajada soon had us a bed, a shower and a kitchen complete with a Montenegrin grandmother to look after us.
As described by the tourist office she was a small lady with short hair and she soon had us settled, oriented and fully briefed on how to use the shower, the oven and the door key. Leaving lights on in empty rooms was a crime.
Now, I can’t remember the exact order of things but, whilst in Kotor we managed to relax on the beach, swim, walk until my legs hurt, take an 8 hour boat trip around the fjord, get up at 5am to watch the sunrise
…and climb to the top of the walled city to watch the sunset.
The trip on the ‘touristical boat’ was worth the 10 euros but came with loud Balkan folk music and funny balkan people sunning themselves in margarine! I kid you not.
All in all Kotor is a pretty special town and definitely one of coolest hideout I’ve found on the Adriatic.
Next up was the southern town of Ulcinj and it definitely shows a different side of Montenegro. With a mostly Albanian population the place is ‘livelier’ in a very Albania way. It’s still a cool place but the number of British, Austrian, Swedish and German BMW’s, Audi’s and Mercedes is mildly concerning and so is the amount of litter. Actually, Ulcinj’s ‘little beach’ is the unfortunate winner at the top of my list of ‘dirtiest beaches I’ve ever seen’. However, we enjoyed it, drank in a very Bohemian bar in the old town
(followed by the very un-Bohemian Irish ‘Rock Bar’) and explored the town with our new travelling buddy Jon – a Spanish guy on a solo tour of the coast.
Oh, and Ulcinj is also home to…
…and you may wonder how it got this reputation? Well, could this be the reason…??
We finally left for Albania on Saturday morning (see previous message) and you can see the photos here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=43924&l=4eba7&id=798860416
Even Albania – universally mocked by the rest of Europe (maybe the world) as a lawless and dangerous country turned out to be fine. Actually we got more help and hospitality in 2 days here than I’ve experienced in weeks in other countries. Tirane is also more lively and colourful (thanks to their Major) than many other ex-communist capitals.
Although only small, there is a small crowed of travellers who we’re prepared to include Albania on their itinerary. We spent the night with 3 Italians and a young American couple, slept on a sofa-bed outside and made straight for Durres in the morning.
Much shouting (in a friendly local Albanian way) later we had, lunch, souvenirs and ferry tickets home.
What we didn’t have was any Euros so we survived the 24 hour journey on
Ukrainian dried fish
Albanian cheese sticks
and 1.5 liters of Moldovan honey!
Not an appetising feast but almost a complete gastric-repeat of the previous 3 weeks.
We got home on Sunday and, I have to admit Slovenia is still (even after 7 months) winning hands-down as my favourite place to be in Europe.
Alas, it’ll have to wait as I leave this sunny republic early tomorrow and I’ll be back in Oxford before you know it!
Expect a sentimental update next week about how much I’m missing Slo.
Oh, and I also got one of my most long awaited holiday snaps – me on a pill box. There’s about 700,000 of these in Albania and finding a picture of one online 4 years ago was probably the start of my whole European mission …but that’s another story altogether…