Saturday, 22 July 2017

Trans Euro Trail – Montenegro – Entry day

Tuesday 18th July 2017

We set off from Boge in Albania at around 8.30 am with a plan to do some shopping, spend the last of our lek currency then head for the border. At the border, the Albania police pulled the van into a shed and went through almost everything, apparently there is a big drug trafficking problem with Montenegro and it starts from the Theth valley, so once they found out we had been there, even more rigorous searching was done!

After almost an hour we were let out of Albania to go to the Montenegro side of the crossing, some 50 metres further on. This time we had a sniffer dog through the van, two police and although we entered the country with no real hassle, (what with the polite police and customs), again the insurance fees left a real sour taste. 

138 euros for a mandatory minimum of 50 days with the van. Now that is a bugger, especially as the country is a part of Europe and uses the Euro! This has left us wondering whether we’ll bother to go to Bosnia at all as it’ll be the same there and judging by the rise in the fees so far across two countries, who knows what it will be the next time. There is no current and reliable info on the internet so you either get the Green Card before you leave the UK, (which at the moment is not that easy since the RAC stopped running the scheme), or you get ripped off at the various borders. We really were not a happy pair of bunnies driving away from the border entry point!

Anyway, we drove towards Podgoric, taking a stop at a lovely local market place to pick up some fruit & veg, which also allowed us our first interaction with the locals, then headed into the capital city to do internet things and just to take a look really. It’s a very cosmopolitan place, everyone is dressed well, the cars are all newish, the buildings generally all shiny glass fronts and all in all it’s a modern western european style city and as usual no parking! So we drove around, then headed out to find a cafe with some internet. We found a relaxed place on the main road, did as much as the bandwidth would allow us and then headed into the hills to find the start of the TET.

Wow, how beautiful is this country, green and lush vegetation as you get higher, (away from the plains where the heat and dryness has started to shrivel everything and fires are burning their way along several miles of the lowland hillsides). The roads wind their way up and over the hills, into hidden bowls with pretty little houses tucked away. We wound our way towards the start of the TET, but found the road too rough for the van as it deteriorated from old tarmac to dirt track so we had started to look for somewhere to park up, when the tarmac restarted and took us over a col and into a place from a picture postcard.

Beautiful limestone rocky tops dominated the skyline, the blue sky backdrop studded with fluffy white cumulus clouds drifting by. The bottom of the bowl was filled with sleepy small farmsteads, big dogs and a picturesque lake. There was no hesitation, we parked up and before the engine had stopped, the dog was in the lake, Lucy not far behind...

Lucy has opted to go walk up one of the peaks tomorrow with the dog, so I’ll be solo riding tomorrow on the first section of the Montenegran TET trail which has been described as ‘possibly the jewel in the TET crown’.