Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Monte Negro

I finally made it to Podgorica (capital of Monte Negro)from Belgrade. There's nothing here, but overpriced accommodations and everything. The money collector at the bathroom wanted 1.50 euros. It was worth it having just been on the train for 8 1/2. There wasn't any toilet paper in any of the stalls on the train. For dinner I had sesame crackers called Pardon and a coke zero. I forgot how difficult it is to travel in a country where the majority of the population doesn't speak English. Luckily, in Monte Negro the signs are not spelled in the Cyrillic alphabet. I am going to take the bus to the coastal town of Budva because it is the only place in all of Monte Negro that has a hostel. Monte Negro also has the 2nd largest canyon in the world next to of course the Grand Canyon. Plus they have one of only two rain forests in Europe and the second largest fjord.

I went on a tour today led by one of the guys from the hostel. We went to an Austro Hungarian military fort from 1980. It was fully abandoned and there weren't any gates blocking it off. The guy from the hostel found it while driving up the mountain range in his old VW. He thought it looked interesting and decided to walk inside. A building like this would not be opened up like this in any other country, but it is the 2nd newest country and rules in other places don't apply. The inside reminded me of old spooky building in the movie "Hostel." Inside were many rooms each having rusty hooks on the walls. The hooks were probably used to hang up guns. Some of the windows here were only big enough to point guns through. This base had two levels. The second level did not have any windows. There wasn't any light, the only thing illuminating our walk way was our tour guides flashlight. He pointed on the ground the safe path and were not to step because of holes in the wall or pointing out old elevator shafts. I was happy when the tour of the base was over and I was safe again.

After the tour we drove up to a small mountainous town where a man sold cured ham, goat cheese, and lohsa (homemade brandy) out of his house. Lohsa is potent. It had 53% alcohol. I could barely finish the small amount he poured, but didn't want to be rude by refusing it. The smell of the meat curing cellar was awful. There was rows and rows of ham hanging from strings that had been curing for about a year. We gathered our supplies and went back in the car for a long drive up to the top of Lovcen National Park.

After going along the bend of the narrow road for an hour we came to a monastery high up in the hills. There were hermitage monks living in an old church like ruins. The monks wouldn't let me in unless I covered my shoulders. They gave me a cloak to wear and gave the other four travelers the same. Usually it is just the women who have to be covered. This is something I learned by going to the Vatican in Rome. For some reason all of us had to wear these funny white robes. We didn't stay for very long because there was other sites our guide wanted to show us. The monks appearances with their long unruly beards and dark black cloaks will probably have a lasting impression on me.

We hiked down a dangerous rocky mountainside to see a tiny village of three people. The villagers looks liked something out of National Geographic. There were many farm animals roaming around freely. Two puppies came up to see who we were and play. You could hear the goats along the mountain. While donkeys were roaming wildly outside of their garden of figs and grape vines. The villagers were very humble and didn't seem to mind us walking through their property. These people were pretty much landlocked in their environment. The only way out of the valley was to hike up the mountain and since it was so exhausting I don't think they make that trek that often. They were very self sustained with running water from a lake outside and food from the animals and produce. The villagers knew that the four of us couldn't speak Serbian. We purchased even more cheese from them. The word "Ciao" was exchanged back and forth several times. They treated us like it was a remarkable occurrence for them to see us, but really it was remarkable that we got to see them.