Sorry still no wifi... but we can't wait to find some to post up some photos!
We left The Bay of Kotor with a few sad glances, looking behind us to wonder, or hope, that one day we'd be back, and headed along the coast up a few small but steep hills towards the Montenegro/Croatia border point.
Around lunch time we arrived at the checkpoint, and after climbing the 150 or so metres in altitude at about ten percent gradient between the borders, no-mans land you might say, we finally arrived in Croatia.
For maybe twenty kilometres the riding was pleasant, a little hot and windy, but mostly enjoyable, but then the road veered towards the hilly coast, and the traffic increased dramatlcally. The coast was a beautiful site, as we hope you'll see through the photos we'll post as soon as we can, but it was a little scary riding alongside so much traffic with so little room for error!
Aftter ascending a mountain alongside the ocean for what seemed like more than an hour, we stopped to admire the unbelievable view of Dubrovnik, a fascinating medieval coastal city, at a small shop atop the hill. We bought a drink (for an exorbitant price) took some photos and then sat down to rest our legs and admire the view. Just before we set off I looked at the temperature, it was 39 degrees (in the sun).
As we began our descent into the city, thunder and lighting struck, and despite the sky above us being perfectly sunny, the heavens opened and the rain began to pour, freezing cold but refreshing drops of icy rain. The contrast with the heat of the day was startling, the rain hitting the road and instantly turning into steam.
Down into the city and we found the ferry terminal, perched near the water, seeming to quietly await our arrival. Leaning our bikes against the wall to find and fish out out the wallet and our passports I suddenly realised that once again I'd left the wallet behind, back up on the hill. Or had I? Stil unsure at this point, I began to look through my bags when two angy Croatian men began yelling at Shanna to move the bikes. The sick feeling began rising in my stomach with the realisation of what I thought I'd done, the men yelling to move the bikes, why, where to, where did I leave it, is it up the mountain, could it be somewhere else... and our introduction to Croatia was a little more difficult than I'd anticipated.
An argument ensued with the mysterious men yelling at Shanna to move her bike, maybe she wasn't moving it quick enough for there liking, and enough was enough. I began yelling back, 'we're moving, shutup you idiots.' Moments later a police officer arrived. Asking what the problem was, we explained we'd been told to move and where in the process. The officer turned to the men, and to our relief, gave them a stern talking to, after which they tucked their tails between there legs and walked off.
I cycled back up the hill.
Finally arrived, exhausted, sweating, and walked up to the little shop counter. Strangely I was ignored for a little while, and even when I asked if they had found the wallet I was met with a blank stare. Seconds ticked by, I searched the area with my eyes, and then, after more hesitation, my wallet was produced. Relief!! Looking inside, cards are here, but.... no money. Eighty Euro, gone. I tried to get some back, even half I argued, you can keep half, more men appeared from nowhere, 'there is no money' they said, gesturing wildly.
Back down to the ferry terminal, 'you just missed it' they motioned, 'next one leaves tomorrow at 11am.'
We cycled under a massive suspension bridge and found a place to swim and wash. The ocean water was cool and cleansing, and I stayed in a long time despite the coldness, watching the boats float past whilst the sky began to shake, thunder and lighting once again enveloping the horizon. Catharsis, maybe not, but some sort of purging nonetheless.
We cycled back up the mountain, and turned around to see a sunset we'll never forget, and a man, an old man, sitting disconsolately, saddened, head down, holding a sign. Stopping to take photos of the beautiful scene, before pushing up further to find a camp site we wondered about this man. Back in Dubrovniks inner city we'd been approaced by at least twenty different people asking if we needed a hotel, he was another of these, but he hadn't said anything to us, unlike the others, some of them even following us into shops to push us into accepting.
'How much?', Shanna asked.
Sorry its been so long since our last post, its been a challenging few days, and we've been unable to find any internet.
We decided to stay another day in the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.
We spent the day fixing our our tent, our sleeping mattress, making a short video, washing our clothes, swimming in the ocean and eating some fantastic food that included fresh raspberries with a thick cream yoghurt, palacinkes (a rolled pancake filled with chocolate cream and nougat cookie crumbs), and delicicious chocolate and pistacchio ice-cream... We also sampled some hamburgers, delicious, huge and cheap at only £2 each!!!
We took some great photos along the water in the evening - make sure you have a look!
We left our strange campsite early in the morning, the nudists and their accomplices were already up and about.
Both a little tired from having to blow one of the sleeping mattresses up around six times during the night, we struggled to push our bikes through the trees and up over the rocky path, finally getting to the road after helping each other over the steepest section.
Stopped at a small mini-market to buy breakfast- nectarines, plain and flavored yoghurt and milk for the cereal we'd been carrying.
Back on the road, pouring with sweat, temp today ends up touching 35 degrees. The coast road is steep and winding, but amazingly beautiful. At one point we pause at the top of a hill to catch our breath, sweat dripping into our eyes, and look across to see an archaic little town built upon a small islet. It looks old, thousands of years old, and we wonder who lives there, have they lived there for centuries, lucky them...
In the evening we're nearing the border to Croatia (25kms) and decide to look for somewhere to camp. We stumble upon a small and isolated road closely following the bay around, and stop to marvel at its beauty. Leaving our bikes against an ancient stone wall we jump into the ocean, its cold, refreshing, and after cycling amongst the cars, the trucks, and through the heat for most of the day, extraordinarily soothing.
Swimming out, around a yacht, looking up, seeing the water splash gently against its bow, I can feel the sways of the tide, the pressure of the water swelling about me, and the sweat being washed away by the clear coolness. And just now, at the moment you're reading this, thunder erupts, lightning flashes across the sky, and I can see a storm pushing in, over the mountains that look as though they are rising from the depths of the ocean beneath.
Sometimes its moments like this that make it all worth it.
We sit in a small restaurant, the storm ceases, the water so close is almost beneath our feet... and watch the world cup.
Shanna decides to look for somewhere to sleep, to check if there is anywhere cheap, although we don't think there will be, and plan on camping somewhere- but she finds the most beautiful place we've stayed yet... for only 25 Euro per night.
And a wonderful Montenegren lady makes us feel like family. 'Do you love our place' her face seems to wonder, to implore us, a simple kind honest face... knowing we will.
'We love it,' it says to us.
Sitting back on the balcony and looking at the water we wonder to each other, 'how come nobody knows...'
As we rode out of Bar we found a bushland area that was perfect for camping. So perfect, we decided it shouldn't be wasted. The beaches were secluded, the ground flat and the whole area shaded by beautiful trees. The perfect spot to spend an afternoon and then do some free-camping.
As we scouted for the perfect spot strange looking characters walked past us, including one that looked suspiciously like Super Hubert (Novocastrians know what I mean)... We found a perfect spot, overlooking a small protected beach - which was covered with naked bodies. Mostly old, overweight and wrinkled. That explained the suspicious looking characters...
We didn't want to seem to be watching the sunbathers, so we found another place on the other side of the headland, where there was a path down to another little beach. Also with nude sunbathers. Wow, these Montonegrians love a bit of nudity! We found ourselves a different patch of water where we kept our clothes on. Or did we?
It all turned a bit sinister when Sam noticed a guy hiding amongst the rocks with binoculars... And we realised many of the men weren't getting their kit off, but were sneaking around amongst the rocks, trying to stay hidden. One man even sat on the rocks with a video camera, pretending to point it ahead, but then changing his aspect to include the nudists. What a strange country!!
Hours later, as I noticed Super Hubert leave, I knew my view of Montenegro would always be coloured by the day we camped outside Bar.
Today we left Albania.
Along the way we met some guys with watermelons, we bought some cherries from them- really good, had a chat, and they gave us some nectarines. Thanks guys.
After lunch we followed map down a road that was supposed to lead us to Montenegro, a bit of a 'short-cut' I guess. The road looked nice, bitumen not to bad, but after a couple of kilometers it turned into a bumpy, rocky mess.
We wondered whether we should turn back, but decided, after seeing a headless cow on the street, that we shouldn't turn back... So we kept riding, slowly, slower than we would up a steep hill.
And then, just as we were running out of water in the Albanian wilderness (or so we'll pretend), we found a little shop, playing Tupac, and serving ice-creams, and we even got a free one, nice old Albanian man.
Sitting here, on the step of the corner shop, we wondered why we were leaving Albania, its mountains, its people, they'd been good to us, so what if they'd tried to rip us off a few times, they'd done it good naturedly, well most of the time, and what about the cheap hotels, and the beautiful mountains, rivers and ocean views. No where else, we thought, would be quite as strange, and yet oddly endearing as Albania.
But it was time to leave, Montenegro was waiting we thought.
More bumpy roads...
The roads on the map don't exist... our shortcut is foiled.
A man in a Jag takes us back onto the main road. Buys us each a drink, invites us to his house, we think. More Albanian hospitality beckoning us to stay.
We find the border. A few jibes about the Germans beating England and we're across. Montenegro.
A beautifully paved road. Winds up a mountain. Then we coast down the other side. The evening air is cool and the road is quiet. Sweaty bliss.
The sun is setting when we reach Bar. How hard can it be to find a cheap room in a big city? Hours later we are hungry and exhausted. People keep pointing us towards Hotel Sidro but it is hard to find. We eat. And then we find it.
50 euro for a room and breakfast. And this is the cheap place?! But it's after 10pm so we have no choice. At least they have wifi.
First room stinks, another one has huge mosquitoes (someone left the balcony door open) and the third has no water. Up and down three flights of stairs each time. Legs so tired. Man in reception, would like to give him a piece of my mind, but ahh, too tired...
Midnight - collapse on bed, sleep is good, so very good...