Northern Montenegro, From All Angles
Most good tourist spots allow you to take spectacular pictures. But the really great ones are those that make you stop and marvel at the beauty of the scenery, so much that you may forget to press the shutter button. The latter is the case of North Montenegro. While the country itself is known for being scenic, the Northern section trumps everything.
We toured the region courtesy of the 360 Monte Travel Agency. I’d say their name suits them greatly. For most of the tour, we were surrounded 360 degrees with perfect scenery that just begs to be looked at. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The tour started on the ancient stones that paved Kotor, the Old Town. We were met by our guide (we couldn’t pronounce his name so we started calling him “Garlic”), who briefed us on our activities.
For the most part, the tour was a long drive of over 650 kilometers over shore lines and more. We saw mostly nature, and the beauty of the Bay of Kotor was the first object of our admiration. From this vantage point, we also got a good view of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a town called Perast. It was beautiful, a crop of neat stone buildings nestled against the lush green island. The mountains in the distance and the blue water completed the scenery.
We were taken to a local restaurant for breakfast, and it was at this point that the tour dragged on a little bit. There was one girl from our group who didn’t get her meal, though to be fair it wasn’t the tour’s fault. After we finished, we were moved on to the next stop — which overturned whatever dullness started creeping in from the breakfast.
Garlic took us to the Tara River Canyon, which houses one of the longest ziplines in Europe! It was an extra 20 EUR, but the thrill of soaring through the wind while admiring the beauty of the river was too great to resist. We were lucky that it was off-season, so we were quickly allowed in the zip line. Like the thrill-seeker that I am, it was a chance of a lifetime. It turns out the Tara is also the deepest canyon in Europe, causing many to compare it to the US Grand Canyon.
Of course, the river and the zipline aren’t the only attractions here. The bridge itself has a history. Story has it that in World War 2, an engineer died at the hands of the enemy while trying to halt the advancing Italian army. His team blew up a part of the bridge to halt the invaders’ advance. The bridge is significant, considering it is in a strategic location amidst three towns, with a village on each side. Of course, the bridge was rebuilt after the war. Walking the bridge was an adventure in itself, considering the height and the thin concrete railings.
Up next, we went over to Zabljak to visit the Black Lake. There are two smaller lakes (quite appropriately named “Big Lake” and “Little Lake”), connected by a strait. It is near the town center, so it’s a famous attraction. Another attraction within the Zabljak area is the Durmitor National Park, with massive mountains (the highest of which reaches up to over 2,500 meters). The area is just south of the Tara River where we were earlier. The view was as majestic as anywhere else we had been to that day!
After this, we had lunch in a cool restaurant called Luna. Their roast lamb meal with soup is just amazing! It’s a must try for everyone. For 12 EUR, one can buy a meal with soup, salad, cheese, ham, and lamb! Really affordable. Lauren, one of our fellow tourists who hails from New Zealand, says she loves the lamb. And that’s coming from an expert on the matter. The meat was tender, and just falls off the bone. The servings were also massive, so much that I had to make a fellow tourist agree to split the meal with me. The Polish girl I split with was just so delighted. Oh, and there’s desert! It’s hard to think how just one person could finish this. Luna is family owned, which is probably how they kept the quality so high. The wife is the cook, the husband is the waiter, and even their daughter helps around.
We topped off the tour with a visit to the Ostrog Monastery, which is literally wedged into the rock of the Ostroska Greda. It was a surreal sight, seeing the stark white structure, Montenegro’s most famous place of pilgrimage, etched into the vertical backdrop. Since it’s a monastery, everyone had to cover their shoulders and legs before going in.
We’ve been all around!
So yeah, 360 really is the best name for the tour. We’ve seen mountains, canyons, rivers, lakes, islands, and all manners of structure. We’ve been traveling on land and soaring through the air. And most of all, we saw the intricate beauty that was Northern Montenegro!