The border crossing was the one that caused the most hassle on the trip so far, Albania must be trying to cut down on trafficking across their borders as they gave me a strangely inconsistent search of my car, made me take down my insulation panels from my ceiling to check nothing was hidden behind and X-rayed my tyres and looked within the side lockers, they didn’t however check my roofbox or any other part of the back of the car, although that could be due to the fact that after waiting some time at the border Frankie could no longer control his bladder and his wee smelty distinctly of the sausage we had fed him that day, probably discouraging the guard from any further investigation. The border insurance started out being the most expensive (he wanted to charge £138 for 15 days insurance under the guise that I was a ‘light commercial vehicle’ but with a bit of pleading and the fact that I only had about 5000 Albanian Leke which is roughly £35 in my wallet and the fact that he had no idea of the exchange rate it turned out to be the cheapest border insurance so far.
There is not so much to tell from the first few days in Montenegro, we pretty much just slept in a series of car parks and chilled on and near beaches and beach bars.
The best bits of Montenegro and some of the best days we have had on the trip this far began when we reached the Bay of Kotor and extended into the Durmitor national park and the Tara canyon.
We arrived like any other tourist in the area, to see the old town of Kotor, situated in what looks like a lovely mountain lake, but is actually an annex of the Med. The old town was beautiful as was the surrounding, but we have seen old towns and we have seen lakes, besides it was expensive and overcrowded and I could barely take a picture without 1000 other cameras being in the way. I had to shoot over peoples heads and I hate feeling like just another tourist mug.
We decided we had seen enough after a couple of hours, that we would find another way to see this beautiful place on our own. We found a little tour operator in a backstreet and sorted ourselves boat rental for the next day, 70 euro for a motorboat from sunrise until sunset, fuel included. We were pretty chuffed.
We headed around the bay and found a nice little spot to pull up for the night. We spent the afternoon fishing in every way that we knew how. I bought some prawns for bait and the base of the paella we were hell bent on making, I caught 4 medium sized fish with these. We snorkelled and collected a bag of mussels and I speared a crab the size of my head *not the best thought through plan, the spear smashed the crab into 100 pieces and the only edible parts were the claws, but still. The best part of the paella was the hunter/gatherer feeling that it came with.
Also that night, we were reminded of the other benefit of wild camping and having the freedom to choose anywhere you want to call home for the night, you could never have a view like this all to yourself from a hostel:
We woke up in high spirits and with the spoils of the sea already on our belly, met the guy with the boat (no deposit, copy of our passports or even names) and we were off for a very special day.
We scooted up and down the bay, fished (unsuccessfully – I lost my 2 favourite spinners), lost the anchor, had to free dive down to get it. Tried desperately to remember my sailing qualification and explored the many much quieter old towns and islands up and down the 2 bays.
Basically had a really great day and slept (for our 50th consecutive night on the road) by the side of the lake again that night, ready to head up into the mountains again the day after. View back over the bay while we were leaving:
The drive that followed was one for the storybooks, one of those spectacular drives where every corner holds a new more magnificent view than the last, from forest fires to skydivers and my personal favourite, which was so out of the blue that the best comment I could manage was something along the lines of “its..fkin…dinosaur lands!?”
I like to think had I been less surprised I would have managed to say something like “Wow! It’s how I imagine the world looked during its pre-cretation cooling period” but in the moment “Fkin…. Dinosaur Land!!” had to do. I’m sure Dee knew what I meant.
We had planned to find a lovely wild camp spot after offroading in the mountains which we could use as a base to go hiking from for a few days but as usual every track we found led to loggers mountain huts and when we finally found a spot we thought we could use we were so plagued by insects and far away from the hiking trails that we accepted defeat and went to a camp site looking over the the cliff of the Tara Canyon.
Over the next three days we hiked around (and in) the Tara river and had a great time exploring the area.