This time, on the 7th day of our trip to Albania, we finally left Croatia for Montenegro and rolled around the Kotor Bay, where we could chill at its coast and check many different viewpoints at different times of the day on its insane beauty. Which viewpoint is the best? Fort Gorazda, Kotor Serpentines or the Lovcen mountain range highest peak – Stirovnik? Let’s see!
Retreating from Prevlaka
That day, theoretically, our plan was to cruise around the Montenegrin cost of the Kotor Bay and then climb up the serpentines leading to the Lovcen mountains highest top.
We were taking into account the fact that the road is twisty, leads through lots of towns with speed limits and there would be lots of places to photograph, but we didn’t hurry much in the morning.
Just a little bit over 100 km to ride. How long can you drag on? Well… Long!
In the evening we figured out we again underestimated our trip time, but… never mind, no spoilers :D
And who would care, when our a little creepy around the bunker camping was so picturesque now in the morning light! Full view on the Adriatic Sea and the boats cruising around the Prevlaka peninsula.
Of course, it started to get unbearably hot, so again it was ultra hard to convince yourself to put on the gear instead of the swimming suit.
Yep, we saw some guys riding around without any protection on bikes and scooters, but we’re the ones from the wary bikers camp :P
To get the Africa back on the original track, which we followed to find our camping spot, Dawid made an exception and didn’t anything, but helmet, for a few meters long ride down a ramp and look what happened:
No falls for week and today it was enough to take off the gear.
Fortunately, the driver was safe and sound. So soon enough we were heading to the Croatia and Montenegro border. Firstly, of course, crawling along the path meandering between the abandoned buildings and then riding up the Prevlaka coast.
So we’ve got some small offroad included first. But then again the road was like a charm.
Like the day before, we could pass a little lovely marina with small, cosy beach and café with a view on the Kotor Bay entrance.
From there, without any further stops, we rushed along the coast to hit road 516 to Montenegro border.
There were some construction works at the last stretch of the way to the border crossing, but no traffic jams whatsoever.
Tough, on the side note, we were admiring the nerves of steel of the guy driving a truck back and forth with some soil. One false wheel turn and he would swim with his car in the sea (๏‸๏)
But lets get back to the road. Just after another turn we were right at the Croatia border crossing.
Croatians were quick about the passport control and soon enough, after moving on through a little bit of no man’s land, the Montenegrin flag greeted us.
Around the Kotor Bay
Some people say that the Kotor Bay is most pleasant to see from the so called Kotor serpentines. Some say that it’s best to admire the bay from the Gorazda Fortress and, on the other hand, there are Lovcen mountain tops advocates. But we will see all that later and why not just ride around and have a bath at one of those small and rocky, but cozy Kotor Bay beaches? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So we started with rolling around the Kotor. At first, soon after you leave the passport control, you’ll get a glimpse of the Kotor Bay for some time. But then it gets lost. No matter if you join the E65 Adriatic Highway again or you pick crawling through narrow alleys between the guesthouses and stores (ᴗ╭╮ᴗ)
The only good thing we found between Njivice and Herceg Novi was the burek (✌ ﾟ ∀ ﾟ)☞
Of course, I don’t want to imply that there’s nothing on this road section. I guess you can find a nice place to stay there and chill on the beach. But if you expect to just pass by, like usually during some road trips, and catch some snapshots of vivid views along the way, then it’s tough. You will only catch a glimpse of a usual town life.
We are rather creatures that evade city centers. So we will spare you the more dull part of our ride, when we were just transiting through typical seaside towns and found nothing particularly interesting.
Although, for the souls that are into seeing some historical buildings, there’s the Tito’s villa Galeb along the way in Igalo town, which is famous its medicinal water and mud.
In Herceg Novi, characteristic with its quite oriental architecture, there’s the whole Old Town and the Kani Kula fortress (literally Bloody Tower) to see. The Bloody Tower was really built as a prison in the Ottoman Empire, but now serves as a theater and a nice spot for organizing concerts. But, of course, it can also be visited outside of the cultural events, to see the building itself and enjoy the Kotor Bay view.
For us the road started to be more interesting around Bijela and Josice, where the Kotor Bay waters narrow to Verige strait (literally the Chain strait – from the chains they used to stretch across the strait to block incoming unfriendly ships (ʘ◡ʘ)).
From there on you get your awesome views back on the road side.
I saw this second time, as I’ve already been here, but I was all the same happily astonished, really. All the way up from Josice to Kotor, the Kotor Bay never leaves you :)
Prepare your cameras memory cards and warm up your fingers for shooting :P
On the other hand, if you’d like to again stop for some architecture sightseeing, I think the picturesque Perast is a must stop. The town is little, but there are six palaces and a fortress of Sveti Kriz located on a hill. Apart from that, in Perast you get a nice view on the Sveti Dorde and Gospa od Škrpjela islets.
Fun fact, on the side note, the Sveti Dorde isle is said to be a normal, natural island, unlike the Gospa od Škrpjela. The legends says that Gospa od Škrpjela is heaped up from the stones that some seamen threw into the sea after each return from the travel, after they found an icon of Madonna in the sea. The local Montenegrins are keeping up this tradition, when at sunset of every 22nd of July they go with their boats and widen the isle by throwing in some more stones (ʘ‿ʘ)
However, we rode through Perast without a stop and joined the sunbathers at Ljuta’s Galebova Stijena as we wanted to drop our thick suits and cool down a bit.
This rocky beach is secluded, so no shops nor bars around. And it is little as the sea tide started to wet our towels just after 2 hours of chilling there. But it was great anyway. I personally like the cozy Kotor Bay beaches better and the view on the surrounding the bay mountains compensate any inconvenience.
After resting for a while and getting all wrinkly from sitting in the water, we headed further to Kotor.
Kotor is, I think, the most touristy town lying at the Kotor Bay. More crowded. Being called a second Dubrovnik pledges ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But on the other hand, again, there are lots of places to visit here – the Kotor Fortress, the Kotor Ladder, the Gurdic Bastion, the Vrmac Fort, the Kampana Tower and… Museum of Cats :) Last, but not least, there is also a trail for the hikers that lead up the mountains for a better view on the Kotor Bay. So no wonder people stay here ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I think you can wander around at least for 2 days.
We again left the sightseeing to bounce on to Skaljari by the P22 road. The time was late and we wanted to get to the Lovcen top.
Maybe that was a mistake to just pass Kotor by¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But at the same time we were about to get to the mountains top right at the sunset, so not everything was lost ;)
Our lovely trip around the Kotor ended up with feeding the Africa at the gas station and feeding ourselves at the local store. I think the sun heat effectively killed our appetite for any hot meal, so were running on small snacks.
The Gorazda Fortress
Instead of sightseeing the Kotor, we chose to pay a visit to the Gorazda Fortress. To get there, after crossing Skaljari, we left the P22 road for the P1 in Trojica.
The P22 has its own twisties and perks, though
Way to Gorazda in an unnamed road branching from the P1. Quite inconspicuous as we missed it at first, but still a tarmac one.
The fortress itself is rather modest. Without any towers soaring up to the sky and fanciful architectural solutions. The fort was built in the 19th century by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to duel with Montenegrins during the First World War. Later it was utilized by the Yugoslav Army, but since the nineties it is abandoned and not tended at all.
When we arrived, we were completely alone. The fort isn’t much of a popular attraction among the tourists and it looks like nobody wants to make money from it. It’s completely open and you can roam around wherever you want.
You want to see every room? No problem.
The basement? No problem.
Get up on the roof top? No problem! ¯\_(•▾•)_/¯
From the rooftop you can have a nice view on the Kotor Bay, of course. But is it the best viewpoint?
In my opinion, not really. Though the fort is nice to see anyway. You seldom get the occasion to just wander around and freely explore such buildings in not so bad conditions, without fainting in the crowd.
Of course, it’s not that you won’t find any tourists there. Some Montenegrins came, when we were standing at the fortress roof and we were just about to leave. But that’s all.
However, you can decide for yourself if the view on the Kotor Bay was the best from the fortress, as next we were riding the Kotor Serpentines, which are just very rich in viewpoints on the Kotor Bay.
The Kotor Bay Serpentines
To get on to the Kotor Bay serpentines, we had to get back on the P1 road and ride further in direction of Zanjev Do.
Nice views on the bay start well before climbing through the road twists starts.
But here we are maybe at the level of the Gorazda Fortress. And the serpentines go way higher.
So we got to the saddle to crawl higher and gain a new perspective.
Generally, you can stare at the Kotor Bay during the whole ride up through the serpentine. Only sometimes the view is curtained by the trees.
The higher you get, the better, I think, although, the details of the Kotor Bay coastline fade away with every passing meter, turning the landscape into true painting.
Usually we would nag a little that it’s time for a tent and we are still riding, but now it seemed that we were actually lucky. We got to see the whole light spectacle at the Kotor Bay surface and its neighborhood.
After quite long, straight stretch, the P1 road branches out into the Lovcen National Park.
We willingly took this turn as the unnamed road, climbing up to the Loven, leads to the best Kotor Bay viewpoints. Though, beware, that at first the road was narrow and tarmac, but then it turns into pure gravel.
But it’s not some tough offroad. You just have to go slower to leave your vehicle body safe and sound.
Though, the bike’s rear wheel was happily sliding every now and then, the views were well worth it. Minute after minute we could observe how the sun hides behind the mountain tops.
The first part of the road to the Lovcen National Park has few Kotor Bay panorama points and generally, gives you constant view on the bay.
But I think we liked the best the viewpoint at the small balcony made from stones (marked on the map below! :)), where you could sit on the balustrade and just soak the colorful sight in, until the sun completely disappears behind the mountain ranges.
The balcony leans out a little bit, so you have also a nice view on the mountain you’ve traversed to get here.
Although it was getting dark, we decided that we will give it a try and ride up the Lovcen highest mountain top Stirovnik, despite that it seemed no one was going there besides us.
Stirovnik is 1,749 m high, but Lovcen mountain range has also other worth noticing mountain tops, like Jezerski Vrh, the second highest Lovcen peak, were lies a mausoleum of one of the Montenegro rulers, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. Jezerski Vrh can also be almost reached by a car. Almost as there is a parking near it, but still you have to go up by quite many stairs to get there. But we’ve omitted Jezerski vrh this time as we’ve visited it already before and at the same time we hadn’t had time for Stirovnik back then. So lets see it this time. Lets go :)
The Lovcen highest mountain top at night
We were a little unsure if we do the right thing riding up to Stirovnik as it was really getting dark quickly, after the sun hid away.
The darkness engulfed us maybe in 20 minutes, counting from the moment we started climbing further.
We had to ride really carefully, because, of course, the road was just gravel and also was quite narrow, sometimes with smaller or bigger cliffs hanging on both sides of the road.
But eventually, we got through, scaring some poor hares along the way.
I would say it was a little too late to make nice pictures and maybe I would turn back time for an hour or half an hour, but at all, the view on the Kotor Bay was insane.
In the end, it was a good decision to roll up here, despite all the doubts. Though, for sure we’ve also missed some epic views, which you can normally find, while crawling up the Stirovnik (´• ﹏ •`) But, on the other hand, I think we won’t forget this sight of the Kotor Bay at night.
After some contemplation and resting, we had to ride back and find a place to sleep as we were tired like hell. Unfortunately, wild camping was not an option.
We couldn’t see anything in dense darkness! So it was hard to tell whether there is any place suitable for a tent and we didn’t want to pitch it up right at the road. Maybe there weren’t any cars coming down nor up (we’ve only met some Albanians asking if the road is passable) and it was easy to hide in such blackness, but we doubted we would get up before the sunrise, when we felt like old rags ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So we rode down to the Krstac pass and chose P1 to Njegusi.
Just maybe after a kilometer or two, we noticed Etno Selo Sveti Georgije right at the rode side. It was open and there were lots of people inside as some country-like concert was performed, so we gave it a try. Unfortunately, they didn’t have free normal rooms for two, as we understood, but they said we can rent one of the little houses in their so called ethno village. The price knocked us of our feet a little (130 euro for one night, it hurts even in time of writing ლ(ᗒ෴ᗕლ)), but we decided we were too tired and we were wild camping for about a week already, so… be it. Lets have one night in human conditions after (and before further) living like tramps (✌ ﾟ ∀ ﾟ)☞
And so we ended the day in a nice cozy beds, instead of a sleeping bag, falling asleep just at the moment we touched the pillows, reminiscing the passing day.
Good night! (ᴗ‿ᴗ)