Day 5. Time to start exploring the mountains around Kolašin. First, breakfast though.
The centre of town isn't very big. There are only around 6,000 inhabitants according to the Montenegrin tourist board. The economy here is yet to succumb to large chains, bakeries are where you buy bread and butchers = meat. I've never experienced this in England and is one of the biggest differences here. We bought some delicious looking sausage (well, they almost all are) and some eggs. I had to get a picture of eggs up on my phone as they were hiding, who needs a phrase book?! We headed back to the hotel and made use of the self-catering facilities.
Talking of differences, we feel that they're really beginning to stack up. There is no health and safety here. No animal control (Dogs just roam the streets). We haven't worked out if the Dog above is a stray but we've seen it roaming free the last 2 days with no collar. Sanitation is, well... awful with large, smelly refuse bins on every corner accompanied by a pile of detritus next to them including feces sometimes. Some public toilets are squatters (I refused, Cat wasn't so lucky) we even heard the French complaining about them they were so yucky! They drive like maniacs overtaking on blind bends and doing double the speed limit despite being waved to slow down by a Policeman around the next bend. Their building regs are seemingly non-existent, no fencing on balconies being the strangest commonality we've observed. The thing is though, it just seems to work. A combination of sparse population and that's just the way it's always been I suspect.
After breakfast (about 10.30am by this point) we headed North along E80 to Biogradska Gora, Europes first National Park.
Here we hired a rowing boat for 8EUR per hour, Cat showed me how it was done of course.
The lake is the largest in the national park and has a path around its 3.3km perimeter. We went for a walk and really soaked up the beauty of this place. The water is crystal clear, the paths aren't very busy and are well kept. Well worth a visit if you're ever nearby. Though we advise to leave it until after lunch as the tour buses (yes we finally saw some) seemed to frequent the site more in the morning.
About halfway round the path turned into a boardwalk as there were dozens of small streams converging on the lake.
We saw no more than 10 other humans whilst on the this walk for over an hour. I really, really like the feeling of isolation from the rest of the human race here without being completely cut off. It allows me to take my time composing shots with the bridge below coming straight out of the camera. Full res here.
As the walk drew to a close the views really took my breath away. Full res here.
By now it was only 2pm and we had the best part of the day left but nothing to fill it with. So we went for a drive across the mountains again. En-route, we tripped over a 9th Century Church.
The inside was incredibly ornate. This is the Church of Sv. Jovan near Bijelo Polje and has been newly reconstructed. It is from the 9th-11th Century! Old!
The road eventually took us round to the town of Berane (not far from Kosovo) where the River Tara flexed her muscle carving this dramatic slice out of the rock. In the picture you'll see the old tunnel on the left and the new one from 2006 on the right. We passed through half a dozen or so locations todays where this had happened. The money is pouring in!
The only way back to Kolašin from here was to go over another mountain pass. This one was even higher than yesterdays at around 1550m! Just over 5,000ft. Higher than Ben Nevis, in a car. It's for little nuggets like this that I love travelling. It constantly pushes against the envelope of what is 'normal'.
The peaks looked high from the valley floor but the pass was so high we felt like we were within touching distance by the time we reached the top. You might notice that from the valley floor the peaks are in shadow, but not in the second frame. That's because we went around them via the mountain road, always climbing. These are two of the highest mountains in the country at around 2400m+ each, no Alp for sure but still pretty decent chunks of rock.
The view from the top of the pass back to into the valley from which we'd just come was great too.
We went out for our first proper sit down meal tonight and the food was absolutely amazing. Cat had Veal and I some Pork. We visited "Traditional Restaurant Vodenica" which serves Montenegrin national cuisine. Neither of us really knew what was coming but it was reallllly delicious. Montenegrin food gets a tick from us!
After dinner the first clear night sky presented itself and I thought I finally had a justification for bring my tripod. However, in the 5 mins between us leaving the restaurant and returning to the hotel the sky had completely clouded over. What a shame. The Milky Way was visible with the naked eye too! Oh well, let's hope tomorrow brings a clear sky instead...
Another really enjoyable day in this wonderful country. I know I might have sounded like I was a bit down on it above but really all of those things are what makes it feel different. Without that we may as well have stayed in Norwich, although finding a mountain pass is likely going to prove a little tough there. So far, so good. Tomorrow we ride for Žablajak!