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Eurovelo: Montenegro

Published: 3 November 2017 · Tags: expedition, bike, eurovelo

The story of a brief traverse across Montenegro from Albania to Croatia.

This post is part of the nine part series Eurovelo. To see more from this series check the series index.

I found Max just past the border crossing topping up his suncream once again. We were now in the fifth country of our trip, and very much aware that this was where the pace would slowly start to increase as the roads and infrastructure would start improving more the further north we would push.

The remainder of the day saw us taking it steady as we navigated along a valley with a small mountain range on our right, and a set of low hills to the left. The scenery created a stark contrast from the plains of Albania we’d spent much of the day so far crossing. Behind the mountains was the massive Lake Skadar we’d originally intended to skirt in order to reach Petrovac. This didn’t matter anymore now though, as we both knew we’d reach Sušanj tonight, and pass through Petrovac early the following day.

Our route along the valley floor undulated gently, taking us quickly to our days destination. On arrival in Sušanj we quickly located a restaurant to purchase some dinner where we could sit near the bikes, and using their WiFi followed our now normal city regime of booking a hotel on Booking.com while we waited for food to arrive.

Two family sized pizzas later we were rolling down to the sea-front before taking a slow ride along the path above the beach looking for the apartment. After a brief affair of struggling to find it in the back-streets we located two large gates and a man quickly approached us, opening the gates for us and pointing to where to leave the bikes and showing us to our tiny apartment — not much bigger than the two single-beds that occupied it.

 alt: Max with his rear wheel.  alt: Max searching for the puncture.
 alt: Kitten!.
 alt: Max fixing his puncture.  alt: Max re-inflating his rear tyre.
Photoseries of Max during his repair, featuring a kitten of unknown origin that sought nothing but attention and someone to play with.

We both took advantage of the early finish, and all the space in the secure courtyard to give the bikes a little affection before a long cool shower (having waited an hour for the boiler to warm up to get anything above freezing) and give some of our clothes a brief wash out. An early night would do us both good after the intensity of pushing through the remote regions of Albania.

After a small lie-in we stood waiting for the electric gates to open at just gone 9:00. We quickly retraced out steps to the beach from the previous evening, briefly stopping at a shop to grab some breakfast and snacks, before sitting on the beach to eat. Both of the bikes were running much lighter than normal today, as we knew we’d be passing through towns and villages fairly regularly now meaning we didn’t need to worry about finding supplies until later in the day.

If all went to plan today we’d cross into Croatia before the day was out, putting us back on-schedule after the fiasco in Macedonia after finding our planned route was essentially impassable.

Throughout the day the riding was setting us up nicely for what we’d be expecting in Croatia over the coming week or so. We’d follow the coast north for a lot of the day before pulling in-land to get a ferry across the Bay of Kotor. After this we’d follow the coast-road to the border with Croatia and cross this before figuring out where we could reach to stay for the night.

We didn’t make it far before Max pulled over with the first puncture of the trip. I sat down for a few minutes playing with a local kitten while Max pulled his tyre off for me to inspect while he located his spare inner tube. It was only a few minutes before we were on the way again, making a mental note to repair the original inner tube in the evening as a replacement spare.

We spent much of the day riding above small towns and villages on a busy road which was clearly built to link all of the towns. We thought about leaving it for the smaller roads, but quickly agreed the undulations would be an absolute killer, so opted to stay on the main road as the drivers were — generally — being respectful.

 alt: A small village on the Montenegro coast of unknown name.
 alt: Tunnel into Budva.  alt: Sveti Nikola Island
 alt: On the ferry across the Bay of Kotor.
Top: A small village on the Montenegro coast of unknown name; Middle, left: Tunnel into Budva; Middle, right: Sveti Nikola Island, Budva; Bottom: On the ferry across the Bay of Kotor

As we approached Budva we diverted onto the old road which had been closed for cars and descended gently to a tunnel through a headland before popping out on the waterfront in town. We followed this until we located some lunch, and then located the road the the Bay of Kotor ferry crossing. Once the initial climb was out of the way this proved to make for easy riding which quickly levelled out.

Once we’d crossed the by a on the ferry we managed to avoid any significant climbing until we hit the border crossing. Here we passed through the first checkpoint, before proceeding to climb for over a kilometre before we arrived at the Croatian side of the border checkpoint. Here we joined the queue for EU citizens and were waved through after nothing more than a glance at the cover of our passports.

Locating somewhere to stop for a few minutes we had a look at the map and found a campsite not far off route right on the seafront. We pulled off the main road and started following the smaller lane towards the village of Molunat.

Our first night in Croatia turned out to be an entertaining one. On arrival we went through the usual routine to getting our gear sorted before Max went off to swim in the sea (which after a minute he decided was “too salty”) while I went to shoot the bay. When we got back we found another person around our own age setting up a tent next to ours who was walking the Croatia coast on his own.

We spent a few hours chatting about our own adventures before it started getting dark and decided it was time to go and get food, as we stood to leave another cyclist turned up who we started talking with. She was on a solo cycling expedition around Europe and travelling under the name of The Daring Dutchie. She was clearly tired and hungry so we helped her set up her dinner (while Jamie went off to find some footie) and then went off in search of dinner and a group. Three main meals later it was time for bed.

More from the Eurovelo series

This post is part of the nine part series Eurovelo. This series is not yet complete; the published parts are:

  1. Eurovelo: A charity cycle expedition across Europe.
  2. Eurovelo: Arriving in Thessaloniki: The start of the adventure as we arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece and build the bikes before getting underway
  3. Eurovelo: Diesel and Dust: From the dust and fumes of Thessaloniki to the remote plains of northern Greece.
  4. Eurovelo: Into the Storm: Cycling from Bitola, Macedonia to Skopje, Macedonia though the mountains.
  5. Eurovelo: Kosovo: Cycling through Kosovo
  6. Eurovelo: Bad Roads and Big Diversions: Resuming the story of Eurovelo after crossing the border from Kosovo into Albania.
  7. Eurovelo: Montenegro: The story of a brief traverse across Montenegro from Albania to Croatia.
  8. Eurovelo: Croatia and Bosnia: Cycling the length of Croatia as part of a 4000km expedition.
  9. Eurovelo: Italy: A brief glimpse into the Italian countryside and culture.