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Wed Jun 01 2016: Bla-Blah in Montenegro

We're leaving the Adriatic coast and riding inland to explore the mountainous region of Montenegro.


On our way out of Kotor

"Where are we headed to today, Neda?"
"Žabljak"

That doesn't sound *anything* like the way that it looks on the road sign. It actually sounds like:

"Ja-Blak", I attempt to parrot back at her.
"No, 'Ja-Blee-Yak'", she corrects me.
"Bla-Bleah"
"You're not even trying."

It's going to be a fun day of riding.


We follow the curve of the road along the Bay of Kotor

North of Niksic, the heavily forested roads become captivating. Switchbacks climb up and down the uneven terrain, giving us a great view of the mountainous roads ahead (and sometimes behind us). Endless curves toss our bikes left, right, left. The whole area north of Kotor is a paradise for motor enthusiasts, two wheels or four.

Here's a short sample of some of the great roads we took, heading towards Durmitor National Park.


Check out the new animated route map in the corner! Neat, eh?

After some fun twisties, we take a detour to visit Nevidio Canyon

Road gets smaller and tighter

We do a mini-hike following the Komarnica River to get to the canyon

This is what I'd look like with a Mike Tyson tattoo on my face

Feet hanging over the gorge

We're not really dressed for canyoning (need a dry suit), but we are dressed for photographing

There are tours that take you deep into the narrow canyon, where you can wade and swim down the Komarnica as it carves through that gorge ahead of us. Kayaking is also popular where the river is more open.

Neda asks me, "Do you know what 'Ne vidio' means in Serbo-Croatian?"
Neda knows I love trivia! "Lay it on me!"
"It means 'Not Seen'. They say the gorge is so narrow and deep that even God can't see inside."
"Cool story, Neda."


The mountain peaks of Durmitor National Park provide a dramatic backdrop against the town of Ja-Blah... Blah-Blak... Bah.

Žabljak (I can only spell it correctly) is a neat little alpine town that comes alive during the winters because of its location near the ski resorts of the Durmitor. In the off-season, only a smattering of tourists visit, mainly for the hiking... and motorcycling too! We passed a bar full of locals, old men inside were getting drunk and singing songs. This is a very European thing to do. We stayed away from the bar for fear of being accosted by a drunk old man. Or worse - being invited inside to join the singing! ("Sorry, I don't know the words!")

In the middle of town we find a nice restaurant that serves Montenegrin cuisine. The mountain region serves up a lot of meat, cheeses and milk dishes, not unlike Croatian food. The menu here was total meatfest, lots of grilled lamb and veal! We were kind of hungry, but not *this* hungry:


OMG! I ate so much I think I have to Bla-Blak!"

If Neda looks a bit angry in the photo above, it's because she was. She ordered something off the menu and it wasn't what she thought it would be. It was hot dogs. She ordered Montenegrin hot dogs... I so totally won. I graciously gave her some of my grilled lamb and veal, like any good winner would.

After lunch, we waddled back to our bikes. The suspension on our BMWs sagged as we hefted our new-found weight back on top of the seats and we rode just a couple of kms outside of town towards our AirBnB place that Neda had found for us online. It was a cool wooden house with steep sloped sides, like most alpine buildings in Europe.


It looks like a little ski chalet

We had the upper floor and the "attic", which was our bedroom, was accessed via a trapdoor. Very neat building!

It rained the next day, so we stayed an extra day to wait out the wet weather

Despite the waterworks outside, the weather has been amazing since we got back to Europe. This is only our 2nd day of rain in nearly a month here. Not bad for this time of year!


In the morning, we find out someone else has sought shelter from the rain under our bike covers

Damn cats! This time they were stealthy. We didn't even see them when we came in! I leaned in... and my seat passed the sniff test. From the way she was cussing, Neda's seat was a different story. :(

We leave Zabljak behind us and we head further north into the mountains of Northern Montenegro.


Half an hour outside of Zabljack is the Đurđevića Tara Bridge overlooking the Tara Gorge

We're 365 meters above the Tara River which runs all the way to Serbia

Proof that I was here

Close-up of some buildings and farms right alongside the river. Not even enough of them to be called a village

Back on the bikes. Where to next, Neda?

Many more twisty roads later, we find ourselves in the border town of Gusinje

We need to get some food for the evening, so Neda hops off to go grocery shopping while I guard the bikes. These two Montenegrin kids are very curious about me and the motorcycles, and it takes no time at all until they are surrounding me and peppering me with questions in Serbian. My Croatian is so poor and they grow frustrated with my non-sensical answers to their deep and probing questions.

They leave before Neda can come back and satisfy their curiousity. Sorry, kids!


Neda booked us a place just outside of town (because it was cheaper)

We didn't realize how far outside of town it was. The owner had to meet us by car and we followed him over 10 kms towards the mountains. The scenery was beautiful, and the lodge was very nice, but it was incomplete and the promise of wi-fi turned out to be false. Not that we're addicted to Internet, but for the last few weeks, we've been winging it day-by-day, with no plans or idea where we'll be the next day. Now that we were crossing over into a new and unknown country, we needed to do some research on things like visas, currency, roads to take, places to sleep.


Back to Gusinje, we knock on a few doors and manage to find a cheap hotel for €20. Not bad!

So before we leave Montenegro, here's some trivia. The mountains in the background are an example of the "Black Mountains" to which the country is named after: Monte means Mountain and Negro means Black. The name was coined by the Venetians, and it's said that the pine trees on the mountains were so dark that they looked black. Monte Negro.


So this is why the hotel was so cheap...

As the sun was setting over the Black Mountains, loud techno-pop music was blasting from the lobby and restaurant below us. We peered out our window and it looked like the local high school was having its graduation dance here tonight! A crowd of teenagers were gathering out in the parking lot waiting to come in. The older kids were all dressed up while their younger peers had to stay outside and peer through the windows at the party inside with envy!

Not so far away, a Montenegrin farmer herds his sheep down the main road in town.


Do you notice the Bla-Bla-Black Sheep at the front of the herd?

So we don't have a kitchen in our budget hotel room. Neda improvises! We feel so ghetto...

Tomorrow, a brand new country to explore!

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