Upon visiting Montenegro, it would have been so easy for me to have just done the coastline and do a bare minimum here of a day or two before heading north to Croatia like many other travellers do. Instead, I gambled on giving this country more of my time and I'm immensely pleased I made that decision.
I had accepted a couple of days ago that to get the most of this country, it was going to cost me a whole lot more than I have been used to paying recently. By this I mean I was fully intending to hire a car on my own and tour the rest of the country for at least two more full days. At 50 euros a day and the cost of fuel, these two days would have cost me at least five days worth of my normal travel expenditure with accommodation and food on top.
Thankfully though, this expensive option wouldn't actually happen. The day before I casually told American Kev what I was intending to do and where I was intending to visit. He showed immediate interest and was happy to pay half of all costs. Result. For both of us! However, truth be told, it wasn't just for seeing the tourist attraction that I was willing to pay the extra money for initially. It was because I had done my research and discovered there were supposed to be some stunning roads and passes all through this region.
We got to the car rental place just before 10am and shortly took off in the same car I was a passenger in just two days prior! I was therefore fairly quickly at ease with the car and I had Sat Nav too courtesy of when Kate came over to Italy for our recent road trip. (I made sure I kept it for occasions such as this). Except, um, that didn't work out as the Sat Nav didn't register Montenegro or a few other Balkan countries for reasons I'm not particularly sure of. Sheeet...
It was therefore back to good old fashioned map work but thankfully we were told directions were well sign-posted and so the ascent began and shortly we seeing more incredible views but from a higher elevated viewpoint this time:
And here is the trusty motor vehicle responsible for getting us up here!
Take a look at this section of the mountain road (or hairpin) to be more precise. Do you see the number 15?
I would later discover that once a year this road is used in the Montenegrin car racing championship and so this then was bend (hairpin) 15 out of a possible 25.
Here is what this roads looks like from great distance (picture taken from Internet).
Not bad hey - especially for a road originally constructed in 1879 by Austro-Hungarians. It was a great drive - even in that heavily under-steering poorly balanced thing the French are happy to call a car. Anyhow, by the time we had completed the 'race-track', we followed a sign to our intended destination - The Lovcen National Park. The plan was to visit a special attraction known as the Mausoleum which is the second highest point of Mount Lovcen situated 1650 m above sea level. After a further 20 minute concentration-intensive ride through the national park to reach our destination, we parked up unscathed to our obvious relief. To our surprise however, it would actually be a further 500 more steps before we would reach the Mausoleum!
Just before we embarked on this latest epic stair climb, I managed to grab a couple of quick snaps showing more roads we took from the national park to get to where we currently were.
And now let the next climb begin!
But it was worth it though to visit the Mausoleum and also to behold the view point that I will shortly show you.
Inside the Mausoleum lays to rest an important man in Montenegrin history - Petar Petrovic Njegos. He was both a ruler and a poet and clearly of high importance to be able to choose such a grand resting place. That's not all though as the chapel itself is built with the finest Boka and Brac marble. Even the ceiling is gold-plated in hundreds of thousand mosaic pieces. Unfortunately the photos of his sarcophagus didn't turn out well so instead I can show you a close up of the statues guarding the entrance.
When you exit the Mausoleum at the rear, you are treated to one last surprise.
And no, the brave fool below is not me! Quite funny though...
Until he fell off.
And the reverse view show and the rear of the Mausoleum:
After we exited the national park we intentionally took a different route back and were therefore able to take in a couple of villages; namely Njegos (named after the ruler mentioned above) and Cetinje.
One of the main sites in Cetinje is a monastery that, and get this, contains the right hand of John the Baptist. I didn't get a picture of that as it was in a tomb or sarcophagus of some sort but here is a picture of the monastery all the same.
We returned to our Kotor base hostel at 6pm having started at 10am. Today was a heck of a long day but totally, totally worth it as we saw so much and more and for future reference to all road-trip enthusiasts, the drive back from Cetinje to Kotor has to be one of the most enjoyable stretches of road I've ever driven on.