Fall Arrives in Montenegro
After a lovely time in Kotor, we ventured further into the interior of Montenegro. Our destination was the mountain town of Kolasin, but first we wanted to make a pilgrimage to the famed Ostrog Monastery.
As we made our circuitous way to the monastery the fall colors were on full display.
We spotted Ostrog Monastery from afar, well before we reached it via a long windy road. The monastery is located high on the side of a mountain, and the upper part is actually built right into the cliff.
The monastery is a popular pilgrimage site, and pilgrims traditionally make a 3km uphill walk barefoot before seeking a blessing. We took an easier route; being low season we were able to drive all the way up to a small parking lot just outside the gate of the monastery.
There were few other visitors around, so we explored the grounds, taking in the artistry of the many wonderful mosaics in the rocks.
At one point our youngest got a few steps ahead of us and wandered into a chapel where a priest was waiting to offer a blessing. Annette walked in the room just in time to see the priest offer a wooden cross to him (expecting him to kiss it), but our youngest thought he was being offered the cross as a souvenir. Fortunately the priest kept a firm grip. Feeling slightly embarrassed, we took a quick glance at the paintings on the walls and ceilings of the chapel then kept moving.
Driving in Montenegro
Montenegro is a relatively small country, with an area about 1/50th the size of Texas. That might lead one to believe that it is quick to get between places but that is far from the case. Going between two points 10 miles apart as the crow flies might require driving three times that distance, and typical driving speeds are somewhere between 30 and 50 mph.
Montenegro is trying to change this situation by building a cross county freeway network, which is no small task since most of the country is mountainous. As we were on our way to Kolasin we passed by a construction site that is part of the project. The height and size of the bridge supports was incredible (the photo doesn’t do it justice).
Coincidentally, a photo of the very same construction project was featured on the front section of the Wall Street Journal just a few days later (their picture was better). The article focused on the role of Chinese investment in these types of projects in Eastern Europe.
We spent the last few days of October in Kolašin, which is in the eastern part of the country. The area primarly attracts visitors in the winter (for skiing) and a lesser number in the summer. In November it was pretty much just us and the locals.
Our lodging for our stay was a cute cabin that had a nice family-run restaurant down the street. The cabin had a wood burning stove in the living room and we found it quite cozy to sit nearby and watch the rain fall outside. (After having very few rain days during the summer the rain finally caught up with us).
When the rain stopped we ventured out to see Kolašin. The downtown area itself has few tourist attractions, but we did like seeing some interesting sculptures as we walked around the small town center.
As a family, we love celebrating holidays. Halloween has always been one of our favorites (the kids love designing their costumes with some help from Mom) so it was a little hard on the kids to be missing out this year. Fortunately, they made the best of it by making homemade costumes and planning a party at our little cabin. We danced to Halloween standards, played “find the hidden candy,” and had our own cake walk. Everybody had a great time. Nobody missed getting tootsie rolls (except maybe our youngest).
One of the highlights of the region is the Biogradska Gora National Park. We enjoyed a nice hike around the park, walking over crunchy fallen leaves. Part of the park is made up of a beautiful virgin forest, with many trees that were 300 years old (or older).
The walking trail featured several educational exhibits (with English translations) that the kids found interesting.
Kolašin was a wonderful place to spend a few fall days and we didn’t even mind that rain kept us inside our cozy cabin for part of our visit. It would be fun to come back in the winter and try the skiing but that will have to wait for a future trip.
Next time, we say goodbye to Montenegro and cross the border into Serbia.