On the road again. Travelling combining with work and pleasure – how enjoyable! This time my final destination will be Albania. Enric, my husband, is joining me. First we planned to bring our dog Gaston, but the vet told us not to do, because Montenegro and Albania are Non-EU-countries and it could be difficult for him to re-enter in the EU again. Thus, in the last moment we changed our plans and we had to look for a new dog sitter near our home town, since the usual dog sitter has been in holidays.
Problems solved and with everything arranged we started the long car ride down south.
Summer rain at our arrival in Bled/Slovenia. We just stayed for the night. Bled is a holiday spot in Northern Slovenia shortly after the Austrian border. The city lies on the banks of Lake Bled with a tiny island in its middle which was frequented as early as in prehistory. The Slovene poet France Preseren (1800-1849) wrote: “The country holds no nicer place than this second Eden, full of charm and grace.”
Bled gained its international reputation mostly due to its sanatorium. The place which was in the early 20th century the finest health resort in the Austrian empire, attracted numerous members of the European aristocratic elite. After World War II, one of the most beautiful residences of the former state stood here, and people came from all over the world. In the last few decades the place has been discovered by “the new age pilgrims”. Our hotel Krim (http://www.hotel-krim-bled.com/) reminded me of the socialist era and had the charm of the 1970s.
As I mentioned before, we only stayed one night and it was raining. Autumn was starting.
Hot, hot, hot. About 30 degrees outside temperature. We have been glad about our decision, to bring doggie not with us, since he is more the winter type of dog!
The new highway just started after entering Croatia. Not much traffic, a pleasant drive in an aircon car. We had booked a place between Split and Trogir in Middle Dalmatia, called Kastel Luksic and arrived there in the late afternoon (www.villa-cezar.com). Where to go for dinner? Nearby are the towns of Split and Trogir, both cities are rich in history and located directly at the sea. We decided for Trogir, since we had been in Split years ago. And Trogir was fascinating. Declared 1997 as world heritage site it has many narrow streets, no cars, a cathedral and an outstanding location at a small island, only accessible by bridges. So we had dinner at a nice outdoor restaurant in the middle of town.
Next morning we got off early and took the local transport to Split, about half an hour busride from Kastel Luksic. We took breakfast in the Café Luxor, situated in the old town between Roman columns. Split is a beautiful Roman city at the Dalmatian coast, with only far too many tourists at that day. After a walk along the Riva, the so called seafront with restaurants and souvenir shops, and a quick visit of Diokletian’s palace we had to start for the next, almost 400 Kilometer ride down to Montenegro. We bypassed Dubrovnik, this stunning city and cruise destination in Southern Dalmatia and planned to visit it on the way back.
Some 30 Kilometers more and we crossed the border into Montenegro. Here everything seemed different, more slowly, another rhythm of time. Highways doesn’t exist in this country, we had to take it quiet, passing along the rural streets near the coast. Montenegro has a tiny coastline where life goes on – buildings, hotels, shops. Behind there are black mountains, nothing else, like in a fairy tale. Montenegro is outstanding and mysterious at the same time. And the most stunning thing is: That country has no own currency. It does not belong to the EU, but its currency is the Euro. Nothing else! Since the abolition of the Dinar, the former Yugoslavian money, it turned first into German Mark and now into Euro. How clever!
We did not believe how much the narrow roads between mountains and ocean slowed us down. It got dark. We only saw the mountains as a black background. Finally we got to Ulcinj, a small town near the Albanian border. Here we had booked a hotel for the night. And, last but not least, it was difficult to find the address. After a phone call to the hotel owner he told us to drive back for about 400 Meters. There he will be waiting for us at the street in yellow shorts, blue T-Shirt and waving hands. And indeed, he was waiting on the street and directed us some meters to his hotel.
The arrival there was like homecoming, because suddenly we had been surrounded by German tourists. The most of them are coming here every year. No wonder. Great rooms for a reasonable price, good food, and a warm and hearty atmosphere by the owner, his staff and the guests. He introduced himself as Ibrocevic Dzovdet, simply called Jeff. He is from Montenegro, was living many years in Stuttgart and therefore he knows German temper as well as the wishes of the guests. We ended up sitting till late on the terrace, eating, drinking and chatting. Was a great evening at http://www.villa-primafila.de and/or http://www.primafila-holidays.com
What I should not forget to mention are the wonderful fruits which you can get by farmers at the roadside. Plums, grapes, melons, nectarines and figs are available in best quality and very cheap. Before we continued our travel we spent the morning wandering around the old town of Ulcinj. The narrow streets have been full of 1970s and 1980s cars, in between the new and shiny Mercedes, BMWs and SUVs of the young rich upper class.
Near the old town is a small beach. It is a well known holiday spot for Montenegro people, Albanians and Kosovo-Albanians. They are lying on the beach with almost no space between them, you only see towels, bodies and sun umbrellas. Many love to cover their whole bodies with sand. I asked why! Jeff told me, the sand here is apparently good for rheumatic deseases. That’s why!
At the opposite site of the town is a 13 Kilometers long sandy beach and the nudist island of Ada, which stands as a natural border between Montenegro and Albania. We left with the feeling that in a couple of years this area will be a new holiday destination for travellers from all over the world which do prefer now Italy, Spain or Greece. Not to forget the Russians which cover already now the main part of tourists in Montenegro. Still the country is rural, not much discovered by the usual tourist crowd. I will have a closer look on its development in the future.
Photo Collage Title: Nicola Mesken (www.nicola-mesken.com)
All other photos: sl4lifestyle