I left from the small and hard to pronounce town of Pljevlja towards the coast, some 230km away. I’d already spent three days in a hotel to recover from food poisoning in Pljevlja, so was adjusted to what little differences I could find between Serbia and Montenegro. They had, until 2006 after all, been the same country.
There was a little bonfire at the side of the road when I left the hotel. I still haven’t figured out why they burn things so much here. There also seems to be a distinct lack of bins in the Balkans, leaving a lightly littered roadside throughout – about on par with Spain and Italy. But soon my worries disappeared when I Ieft the town and started exploring the remote countryside.
I cycled about 80km the first day. There aren’t really a lot of roads to choose from. In fact there’s only one. Luckily it’s a good one—well surfaced and with hardly any traffic. Sparsely populated too. It took me 65km of cycling before I reached even a shop, the only other place offering food being a couple of restaurants next to the river Tara.
The countryside was absolutely beautiful. There were shades of orange I didn’t know existed in nature and that I’ve never seen before. Certainly one of the best places I’ve cycled and honestly the weather wasn’t even that good—that’s saying something. It was beautiful, peaceful and I guess I especially liked it because there were no people around. The traffic was so light, probably because the summer sun has gone and the winter snow hasn’t arrived, meaning a lack of tourists. I didn’t see anyone else cycling. In fact, I was probably the only one in the area with a bicycle. It particularly reminded me of Scotland. Why the hell has nobody told me about this place? It seems that Montenegro is the land the cycle tourer forgot to visit.
I had to dip down about 400-500m from the plateau into the deep Tara valley, cross the iconic bridge and then climb the other side to continue south.
I found a little camp spot in the dark next to some houses that clearly weren’t in use—no lights or smoke from the chimneys. I reckon they are rented out in winter when the snow arrives. A few breaks in the clouds that night revealed a white soup of stars in the sky I hadn’t seen since Northern Spain. There was simply no light pollution around. Under the stars I made a new meal that night: I thought I was eating spaghetti in a tomato sauce with tuna. As it turned out I was eating spaghetti with tomato ketchup (yuk!) and pâté (double yuk!).
The next day the remoteness I had experienced continued. I passed the beautiful Durmitor National Park and broke a new tunnel record—cycling through a mountain for over 2km!
I wound up camping next to a ruined house, of which there are many in the area, after a quick visit to the town of Niksic. It rained long into the night.
The mysterious leaks in my tent are getting worse. I’ve been solving the problem by sitting a cup down next to my feet to catch the water. It rained so much that there was almost enough to make a half cup of tea. I decided against when I saw the dead fly floating in it though.
I made the final stretch in the clouds and rain towards the coast, around 80km. It was still really remote. There was nowhere to buy food on the way except from one petrol station. They didn’t have anything remotely starchy so I just bought a big and overpriced bag of crisps to keep me going.
It wasn’t long before I was departing from the mountain landscape to the coast. I could see the Adriatic—basically the Mediterranean—in the distance, and in the foreground lay the beautiful Bay of Kotor.
There was a pretty good descent down to the water and then a nice flat cycle (for a change) around to Kotor at the other side of the bay. I passed some beautiful towns along the way, and two little islands with churches sitting in the middle of the water, surrounded by mountains.
I have to say, that despite the rain, this was the best three-day cycle I’ve done since last crossing the Alps. And the following day I was rewarded with sunshine and 24 degrees! Makes a change from those chilly mountains of Serbia.