45 minute layover. Maia and I hunted around the town for an ATM. This town was beautiful in its own right with a cool old town and so we headed back to the bus to tell everyone we should wait, but they had already loaded our stuff on the bus, so off to Kotor it was. This bus left the coast for a jaunt around the largest fjord in Europe. This is one of Mary's pictures from the bus. The fjord was so big that it takes like 2 hrs to drive around it. We knew we were staying in a town on this fjord, but we had to pass like 5 small towns to get to it. The wait was well worth it as we enjoyed the view of this fjord forever. It was startling that the sites on this trip just got better and better.
A bit about accomodation. The three I mentioned earlier had arrived in town about noon and arranged accomodation for all nine of us. We had cell phones but everyone's phone except for Laura's stopped working in Montenegro. Earlier in the day we had received a text from her that they had found us a place on the water for 15 euro per night. So we got into Kotor and had no idea where to go. So we just picked a direction of the coast and started walking. After about 10 minutes we met up with a police officer who spoke a bit of English. We got through what the problem was and he let us call Laura's phone with his phone but it didn't work. We thanked him and then split up into two groups to try to find the pioneering three. As luck would have it, the other threesome just happened to be walking through the city's main gate when the pioneers were showing up. Laura then texted us so we could finally meet up. Imagine how else we would have found where we were staying. Still nobody got worried at all and everything worked out. We went into the old town which again is like Dubrovnik with its old fortress walls and small narrow pedestrain only streets. The city and location were incredibly beautiful and this was the most beautiful place I had ever been. These snow capped mountains surrounded this huge fjord and there were these walls that marched half way up the mountain. I tried to capture it with the camera, but in no way did it justice. In this picture you can kind of see the walls snaking up the mountain. The next one is an aerial view of the old town.
We sat down for pizza and just about everyone was exhausted. The food was incredibly cheap and here we sat underneath the mountains of Montenegro. Who knew such a gem existed in such a random part of the world. After dinner we all bought 2 liters of beer thinking we'd have a good old time back at the accomodation, but of course we were all too exhausted for that and ended up leaving our beer behind. I was of course all too excited to be by the coast so I had to go swimming on our first night in town. At about 11 pm I decided the time was ripe and just about froze to death, but it was worth it.
The next day, Kenric and I played party to Andrew's quest to find a fishing rod. After visiting the local shop and thinking rods far too expensive, we instead found a bamboo stick and turned that into a rod. With a little line and a couple of hooks from the shop, some shrimp from the grocery store we had ourselves a rig. We threw it in the water just outside our place, but unfortunately nothing big was around. The only hooks we bought were too big for the little fish that were interested. Still it was a mighty attempt. We went swimming all day, played frisbee golf (through a construction site), and generally lounged. A great way to spend the day after all the rushing about. I also forgot to mention how at 5:30 AM we had decided it would be a good idea to hike 1500 steps up the mountain to where the fortres was and see sunrise. It was an awesome pay off but an exhausting one. We didn't even see sunrise because the mountains are so high it doesn't rise until like 10. Also during this day, Kenric and I scouted out buses for the next morning. They of course were listed in Cyrillic so after getting some help from the local workers I was able to transliterate the letters enough to figure out where we needed to go. The next day would be the journey to Albania - what a story.
We finished out the day at a seafood place, seeing as we were on the water, where I had some fish soup and enjoyed Bob Dylan songs all night. Again I think we all had the idea of having some fun that night, but the 6:30 am bus the next morning necessitated an early bedtime.
This gets us up to Wednesday which was kind of the landmark day of the trip. We would end up going via four modes of transportation from northern Montenegro to Tirana, Albania. The 6:30 bus was destined for Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro which is basically shite. It's full of communist buildings rebuilt after an earthquake. I should also mention that at this point we were down to six people as Maia decided to head home from Montenegro and Mary and Martha wanted to see Croatia on their way home. Six turned out to be the perfect number for all the minibuses and cabs we took.
We got into Podgorica after having talking to this Irish kid on the bus on the way there. He had just come form Albania and explained that basically the only way to cross its border is with cabs and minibuses. The information guy in Podgorica confirmed this so I went outside to make friends with a cabbie. I found one that I liked, spoke English, and seemed legit b/c of his nametag. He said I could ask information if I wanted his credentials. Anyhow, he agree to take us to the border which was like a half hour drive. Three of us were in his cab while he got a friend to drive the other three. This was probably the only part of the trip where I was a bit nervous. These two cabbies took us on all these one way roads in the back hills of Montenegro with no sign of civilization. My driver didn't speak any English and our cell phones didn't work. Still everything turned out fine. We made it to the border, my new friend was really helpful and we journeyed onward. At the border there was a group of about 20 guys just standing on the Montenegrin side staring at us. Later we noticed that they were all Albanians waiting to get papers for entry - needless to say we didnt' document for fear our cameras would get stolen. It was odd though because the border was next to this beautiful lake that was ripe for toursim excpet that it was in Albania.
The Montenegrin border guards let us out of their country fine, and we had to cross a good 200 meters of no man's land before we met up with the Albanian guards. I don't know if I'll get to Albania tonight, but quite a story it is. Still Kotor was my favorite as maybe the pictures can demonstrate.