From Zlatibor, Serbia we are going south to the closest Montenegro border station. Today we saw what we have not for almost 2 weeks… tons of bikers. We rode south to Novo Varos and then west to Prijepolje. Here it was a bit confusing and luckily we saw sign to follow to Pljevja Montenegro since the road did not look like much and the GPS kept saying make a U turn.
The exit from Serbia was easy. The police asked for the passports and title and we were stamped out.
There is about a km ride to the Montenegro crossing. Here again they just wanted the passports and title and did not ask for insurance documents.
This is a really great country for riding and most is beautiful except for the mines and nuclear power stations!
We saw Lulu and Miguel from Lyon several times before and after the border and we finally met on the side of the road!
We did a loop ride from Pljevja thru the Tara canyon to Mojkovac along the scenic Tara river.
From here we headed south to Kolasin on the main road for 19 km and then took the R18 back to the ski village of Zabljak. The Tara canyon ride is the more famous and is nice, but there is some traffic. The R 18 is much more scenic and we saw about 4 cars.
We met these cool dudes on a road trip from Bulgaria!
We arrived to Zabljak and set up in the hostel. We walked into the village to get some groceries and had a traditional dinner of “mixed grill”. Leaving the restaurant it was lightly raining, but by the time we ran the 2 blocks back it was torrentially raining and we were soaked. But it did not last long and with the lack of humidity here our clothes were dry by morning. We woke to a cloudless blue sky.
The plan today is to go about 200 km to Kotor on the coast and this will take at least 5 hours with out stops for the 179 km.
The route starts with a high mountain road thru the cathedral mountains of the Dormitor National Park. The views are spectacular. There was very few other vehicles.
Dan likes to ride off to scout photo ops and sometime takes dirt nap when the bike tips over off the side stand.
Midway there is beautiful alpine meadows and panoramic view of the mountains.
On the south side you come out of the mountains on switch backs and thru many tunnels bored in the rock. Several have switchback in the tunnels and they are absolutely pitch black inside. One tunnel even has an intersection.
From there it was a quick 60 km on the “main road”, which is a nice two lane secondary road to us.
Here again we exited to the “country or connecting road” south and west from Orlina to Cevo. This is a one lane road on which we saw only 2 other cars the whole way. Cevo is where you join the “main road” again, but there is very few cars here too. It was always a surprise on the single lane roads when you met an oncoming car.
We dropped into one valley from here on the switch backs on the way to Njegusi.
From here you make for Zanjev Do and Google will not route from here to Kotor down the sheer mountain side where there are more than a dozen switch back to get to the sea side.
Kotor is an ancient walled city fortified since the middle ages. It is become popular recently due to an increase in cruise ship visits.
For the ride out from Kotor we decided to go the long way to Croatia around the bay and to Dubrovnik in just under 100 km.
The exit from Montenegro and into Croatia took minutes and was totally painless. The passports were stamped out an then in and our green card is valid in Croatia. We stopped in the picturesque village of Cavtat for a “real” lunch by the sea.
We are celebrating 4 years on the road and our 20 th wedding anniversary. Here we met Yvonne and Mike from New Zealand, who were sitting at the next table and we ran into them again later in Dubrovnik. We hope to see them again on the North island in 2018!!
The walled city has no vehicle traffic and is very expensive. We stayed about 4 km away and its still pricey, but 20th and all! The hotel is on the direct bus line to the old city.
“Dubrovnik is a city in southern Croatia fronting the Adriatic Sea. It’s known for its distinctive Old Town, encircled with massive stone walls completed in the 16th century. Its well-preserved buildings range from baroque St. Blaise Church to Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace. Paved with limestone, the pedestrianized Stradun (aka Placa) is lined with shops and restaurants.” It is also now famous for its many Game of Thrones filming locations.
We bused it into the city late in the day to avoid the heat and then spent several hours walking the old city walls which have a birds eye view of the old city and the sea shore. We got some dinner from a deli and sat on the church steps to enjoy an open air concert.
The plan for today is a short 170 km to Mostar Bosnia, but we planned to go via Trebinje and have a stop in the ancient city of Pocitelji.
The ride starts out with a small back track up the highway to the turn off for the Bosnian border. Just before there is a great look out point and here we ran into fellow Canadian Brian Kennedy from Ontario. He started his round the world adventure in may 2016!! You can check out his blog at Ride4-Adventure
At the Exit from Croatia they stamp the passport and want to see the bike papers. The official in their air-conditioned booth with its mirrored glass and a small pass thru for your papers are confused with our Canadian passport and our Colombian plates! It takes a few minutes to explain that British Columbia in not IN Colombia.
That done you ride a few km to the Bosnian border “shack” on the side of the road. Here there are at least 6 border officials in a tiny one room building. They however are very friendly and explain that we have “ a problem”, which is a poor way to say what we already know our green card is not valid here are we need to buy insurance. The salesman for it is the guy standing right there and he speaks English perfectly. The minimum is 7 days and that is 30 euros each ouch, but it is what it is. They kindly let me stand in the air conditioned office and offered me snacks! It is 29 degrees already at 1030 am.
From Trabinje you ride east and then north along the base of the mountains and then over a small pass towards Mostar.
It is now 34 degrees and we are very sweaty. Stopping at Pocitelji we had to get cold drinks and we also bought some fruit from this lovely lady. Unlike most countries here in Bosnia they explained they will take just about any currency they can exchange. In Croatia there are signs everywhere that say “We do not take Euros”. So we paid for our fruit partly in Euros and partly in Croatian Kuna. This village is built on the hill side in a natural amphitheater.
“During the Middle Ages, Počitelj was considered the administrative centre and centre of governance of Dubrava župa (county), while its westernmost point gave it major strategic importance. It is believed that the fortified town along with its attendant settlements were built by Bosnia’s King Stjepan Tvrtko I in 1383. The walled town of Počitelj evolved in the period from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Architecturally, the stone-constructed parts of the town are a fortified complex, in which two stages of evolution are evident: medieval, and Ottoman.“
Now it is 36 degrees and we have just 30 km left to go today. Arriving at the hostel we had a ground floor, shaded, and very cool room to wait out the days heat before exploring the city. It gets to 50 degrees here in summer.
“Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva. The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most recognizable landmarks, and is considered one of the most exemplary pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans.”
We finally emerged from the air con at 730 pm. It is a short walk to the old city, which is paved with very smooth and very slippery in flip flops round stones. This makes the slopes a series hazard. Across the bridge we found a nice Turkish place to have a traditional meal and to celebrate our 20 th wedding anniversary today. After we made our way to the river to get some shots of the famous Mostar bridge. There is a very Turkish feel to the city in general with the markets and the mosques.
We were treated like royalty by the hostel owners.
Most of the building here have scars from the war.