Dubrovnik, Lake Skadar, Croatia, Bay of Kotor and Mount Lovcen National Park, Montenegro  Week 108 May 8th - 9th 2013
                       
We're following the Dalmatian  Coast of Croatia. Our efforts to find out why it is so named have so far come to nought.

Ploce is first opportunity for any reasonable agriculture, beyond olives, we've seen.

 
Oranges, and no doubt many other things.
 
There's a 10km stretch of the coast that belongs to Bosnia Herzegovina.

Four, fairly painless, border posts.

Though Croatia and these posts are the first in all our travels to check our vehicle insurance. Fortunately we have a European "Green Card".

We also had an experience unique among travelers. A Croatian (or any) border official who apologised. For taking so much time processing our Australian documents. All very pleasant and let us help with which numbers were which.

Note to self ... "don't become blasť about borders!"

 
Marine farming of some sort. Probably mussels or similar. We've also seen occasional fish farming.
 
And so to Dubrovnik.

I visited in 1978 and thought it would be nice to revisit with Ali.

However, the campsite nearest Dubrovnik is now a hefty A$40 per night. To add insult to injury they offer "camping cheque" discount at A$18 which was economically inaccessible to us and which we decided not to subsidise. Maybe fine for a short summer holiday but not for long term independent travel.

 
There were alternatives like camping further away and taking public transport.

However, we decided other places beckoned and contented ourselves with a view from the road south.

Last time I was back-packing. A ferry from Rijeka to Dubrovnik (which isn't running yet this year and may close completely). Then a ferry around a very closed Albania to Igoumenitsa in Greece.

Wonderful memory of entering the old harbour on the ferry. 

 
The bright red roofs are a bit of a contrast to the faded roofs I recall from previous visit.

A result of rebuilding after the 1990's Balkans War.

No photo here but the mountain overlooking (now with cable car) would have provided an ideal platform for Montenegran (Serbian) seige.

 
The best description I have of the Balkans is that they are "Balkanised".

So we rid ourselves of the last of our Croatian Kuna at the Dubrovnik Lidl. And when that failed because they didn't have enough of what we needed, we finished off at the Getro (cash and carry) opposite.

The 4wd Bremach in the photo is a bonus.

 
And so to Montenegro. And Euros.

An instant change in the valley floor.

A different shade of green.

Montenegro has a population of about 700,000. A tad less than Brisbane's 1,000,000.

Like most of the Balkan countries that were one time part of Jugoslavia its had a checkered history.

After the war it became part of Serbia Montenegro but left a few years ago.

 
We decided to drive round the Bay of Kotor rather than take the ferry across the narrow neck.

We camped by the side of the road part way round.

Kotor is another medieval walled town.

Remnants of Genoese and Venetian trading.

Whereas the Chinese Emperors taxed salt the Venetians maintained their position by monopolising its trade.

The Seabourn Odyssey was just leaving.

 
A bit overcast. But the sun poked through just before it set.
 
A bit of a storm and some lightning took the local radio station we were listening to off the air.

We'd wondered why we have been seeing so many lightning conductors.

 

 
Next morning the next swag of cruise ships arrived.

The exhaust hung in the air as a layer across the whole bay.

 
We missed the Roman mosaic near Risan, Perast (a little Venice), and the old town at Kotor. Overlooked by the first of three cruise ships.
 
There's a narrow road out of Kotor that rises to Mount Lovcen. 25 haripin bends.

Our camp last night had been on the roadside on the far side of the bay, just round the corner to the left.

Looks like the cruise ships have to queue for the single berth.

 
The truck driver was a bit surprised when we let him past.

Its our normal habit to avoid having a queue behind us but we also figured that it was better anything coming down met him first.

 
It just got better.

The bay is a flooded river bed.

Not a fjord as some of the brochures are apparently wont to suggest.

But just as spectacular.

 
Over the edge of the mountains and a liveable valley.
 
And walking tracks.

The "maraton" we think is something organised by British expat tourist companies.

 
We decided to drive round the southern side of the mountain.
 
Just so's I know I was here.
 
The Bay of Kotor.

The ferries run across the neck to the left of the photo.

Since there's little tide in the Mediterranean there's not much movement of water in or out of the bay.

It wasn't quite as clear as the open sea.

 
Jezerbski Vrh is 1657m high.
 
Panorama in all directions.

This is Cetinje. The old capital.

 
Looking back down the tunnel.

Too large, and too finished for military use. It leads to the mausoleum.

That's Ali, illuminated by one of the two side passages.

We think 471 steps (for those who count such things).

 
The tomb of Vladikar Petar II Petrovic Njegos.

Symbolically guarded by mother and sister.

The Vladikar is a religious position. It became political while settling disagreements between tribes and ultimately uniting them.

We suspect "the father of Montenegro".

 
Black granite among the limestone.

Montenegro translates as black mountain.

A little bit of trouble with the electricity meant a torch was needed to see the sarcophagus under this granite monument.

 
Of course we waved back.

A school party out for a walk.

Montenegro is freshly independent of Serbia.

 
Cetenje, the old capital.

We became lost, did a u-turn at the tour bus car park, and headed towards Albania.

 
We took the back way along the edge of part of Lake Skadar.
 
Nearly didn't cross this bridge.

We weren't lost, we just weren't too sure where we were.

And becoming suspicious of the gps.

 
The lillies around the edge of Lake Skadar surprised us.
 
Somewhere just before here we met a couple of German cyclists for the second time.

Just as we gazed at our gps they gazed at theirs.

Fortunately they had a bonus. A real map. With lat and long.

So we worked out exactly (more or less) where we were.

 
Without looking too hard we spotted an old track that looked little used.

There really haven't been many places to stop on single width roads with few passing places.

I went for a short walk to see more of the lake. Misjudged where I was and returned horribly scratched from almost impenetrable undergrowth for some tender loving care from Ali.

Well, a cup of tea anyway.

 
Tried to untangle the structure of these very complicated looking flowers.

We haven't a clue but we keep thinking orchids.

Just like the many we didn't manage to photograph in Plitvice National Park.

 
Lake Skadar, Montenegro, Boge and Thethe National Park, Albania Week 109 May 10th - 13th 2013
 
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