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One for the Road

Bar, Serbia and Montenegro


I was supposed to leave the hostel at 9am, so I could catch the bus down to Bar in Montenegro. Getting up was a little more difficult than I might have hoped, due entirely to the consumption of an authentic Bosnian pie the previous evening, which was so heavy in comparison to the sandwiches and pizza slices I have been surviving on that it took a long time to sleep off. Bosnia?, you might ask. Dubrovnik is very close to the Bosnian border and as such shares some of its cuisine and culture. We ate in a small pub/restaurant that was playing music of the Eurovision meets Orff meets Total Eclipse of the Heart in Croatian variety to which the locals were singing along in all their inebriated glory.

The next morning, the mother of the family who runs the hostel was saying her goodbyes, and happened to ask where I was going. When I told her that I was heading to Bar, she said something about young people and then made a noise which could have meant 'motor vehicle collision' or 'shooting' - it was unclear. Either way, it did not sound too promising, and so I prepared for the worst.

The journey in the bus down to Bar was in some ways idyllic; in others, it was an ordeal of epic proportions, from the stressful and prolonged stop at passport control to the fact that I found out at the last minute I had to change buses 40km from Bar and had difficulty locating the new one. My fellow passengers were an unusual mix of individuals, from a man who kept swearing to himself and changed seats nine times during the duration of the three hour journey, to a guy who was making loud retching noises at the front of the bus. The driver was an incredibly unpleasant chain smoker with a picture of the Virgin Mary above his mirror. All this aside, however, the views from the window were extraordinary, and once we were into Montenegro I kept on wishing I could get off the bus and explore.

I would have done except I was booked into a fairly costly hotel in Bar - the only place a room could be found. I therefore promised myself that I would keep other costs as low as possible, and so for my first meal I decided not to give a tip. Bad move: the same man was serving in the evening and I was overcharged. Despite trying to kick up a fuss, nobody claimed to be able to speak English and so after some time I had to accept my bill as it came. I did have some success at the hotel however. When I discovered my television in my room did not work, I complained and was upgraded to an even better room. I did feel during my one night stay that I was somewhat betraying the backpacker fraternity but it was nice to feel clean for 24 hours for once. And it is a good thing the hotel was pleasant as Bar in every other respect is a fairly uninteresting town - certainly not a tourist hotspot, except possibly for Montenegrins themselves.

The next morning I caught the train from Bar to Belgrade, a 10.5 hour journey. The first 2 or 3 hours gave some of the most stunning views I have ever seen of mountains, canyons, crystal blue rivers and small Montenegrin villages. The countryside of Montenegro and southern Serbia is beautiful - the inhabited areas on the other hand are not. Litter is abundant in a way that you just cannot imagine in Western Europe and the buildings scattered in the low-lying areas are particularly bold, industrial and ugly. However, it was certainly an education, and there is a kind of charm about seeing goats and cattle grazing peacefully by the side of the railway whilst the locals go about their daily lives, seemingly oblivious to the train rushing past.

permalink written by  BenWH on April 11, 2009 from Bar, Serbia and Montenegro
from the travel blog: Gap Year Odyssey
tagged Montenegro

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Fine blog, brought back some great memories, cheers!

permalink written by  Montenegro on February 14, 2010


I'd love to take that train ride, must be awesome!

permalink written by  Prcanj on February 14, 2010

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