Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 26 (Croatia/Montenegro): somewhere behind Cilipi - somewhere before Kotor (what a difference a few km make)

today’s distance: 77km
total distance: 2378km
riding time: 5h

I woke up several times during the night, sweating intensely and feeling the onset of something bad coming on. Fever. Slight one, but still. I had figured that something was wrong already when I went to bed. My nose had clogged up entirely. Not good. I must have caught something a few days ago as I had felt a slight itch in my throat on the rest day. The two days of battling the rain and wind didn’t help much.

At any rate, on the bike I went and I figured that I could at least make it to the first major town in Montenegro. Wind from the front … what else is new? And up the hill to climb what is known here as the thick mountain. It is also where the Croatian border crossing is located. Not much of an uphill, but I could feel that I wasn’t 100% for sure. Made it up and arrived just after having been passed what seemed like a convoy on a mission consisting of four BMWs of various models hailing from Zurich.

When I got to the top, all was well I thought and the treatment at the other border stations must have been an exception. I was wrong. The first guy I looked quizzically and he motioned for me to pass. When I did looking around for someone else, someone in the booth to the right barked at me. Did I mention it rained right there and then? Crewcut guy with nothing to do in his booth tells me to get in line behind the cars in the other lane. He was reading a magazine. The line was no longer under the roof. It was raining, I think I should mention that. I said “Can I stay here and wait?” “No!” Me: “You’re joking, right?” “No!” Me: “You do realize it’s raining right now?” Shrug. Shrug on my side also. Stepped back two meters, plunked my bike right there - not in anyone’s way and looked to see which car was the last one and thought I would wait my turn. Barking behind me. Didn’t want to turn around. Out he came and snapped “Passport!” - I gave it to him and he disappeared for 10 minutes in the booth where the cars were lined up. A bus driver behind me had seen my passport and asked what was wrong and I said that I didn’t have a clue. Turns out it was a bus full of Kosovars and they didn’t get the royal treatment either. We struck up a conversation, they thought I should go through Kosovo and shouldn’t worry about anything. Nice invitation, I might just go! We passed the time by them asking me about the trip when eventually Mr. Crewcut comes back and presses the passport on my chest. My cheery “Thank you!” didn’t leave much of an impression with him. The Kosovars only raised their eyebrows and shook their heads. They wished me well and off I went. Not sure how much longer they had to be up there.

Downhill a truck overtook me and right on his tail one of the BMWs … and this guy was positively insane. Narrow mountain road, truck doing 60km/h downhill, was doing OK, but it was curvy and the guy tries to overtake. Truck moves to the left, signaling to stay behind. Sharp right hand turn. Oncoming traffic. Truck moves right, BMW just barely makes it behind the truck. I reach the Montenegro checkpoint a couple of minutes later, see the truck driver still shaking his head and overtake the Beamer at the control post. Family of four in a BMW X5. Couldn’t quite believe it. Montenegrin border guard gives me a cheery hello when he sees me and the bike, asks me where I’m going, figures I have gone nuts when I give him the answer, but sees me off with a smile and an honest-sounding good luck. Wow - what a difference to the higher altitude Croatian border guard.

I reach the first town and see this “institute” and just when I snapped my picture encounter two Dutch guys who happen to heal some ailment in the “institute”. We chat it up for a bit, they warn me from all the traffic.

Buckle down I thought, but turns out it is like BiH sort of. Much more relaxed. Much more space - for the most part. There is the occasional idiot of course. Headed into Herceg Novi, updated the website and now the sun is coming out a bit more. Visited the center, which is quite nice and relaxed there for a bit and eventually move on. I figured that I would either go to Kotor or find something on the inbetween.

The scenery that I encountered was breathtaking. The fjord is downright gorgeous, steep cliffs seeming to fall from the skies straight into the water. Some towns and a decent road clinging to the edge of the water. Nice towns, not fully renovated - but enchanting. More smiles on the faces of people, big hellos. I decided to go all the way around the fjord instead of taking the ferry and thus the shortcut to Kotor. It was so worth it. And I also came across what must be one of the best basketball court locations in the world.

My system was alright, I took it slow and the scenery was so worth it. At a town about 8km before Kotor I got something to drink and when I asked about a place to stay one guy struts off with me to his friend Dusan. Speaks excellent German, his mother was German, his father Hungarian. Just came out of surgery the day before. Wanted to go home and not stay in the hospital. Turns out that Montenegrin hospitals have sort of closing hours … along the lines of “You can get sick from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays, all other times, there are not meds in the hospitals and any medicine you need you must buy at the pharmacy.” So, he went home and said that he was glad to have done so. I wasn’t sure about whether to stay or not. Headed into town and looked around - all accommodation was booked out or not available for a night or not for a biker. There was one place … But I decided to head back the 8km I had come from and we chatted the evening away for a bit longer talking about the EU (Dusan doesn’t like it), his daughter (8 years, with excellent German), life in Montenegro (getting better) and the building boom that is setting in here right now (look around ye will see).

Still not feeling all that great … will to see what the situation is tomorrow and decide whether to stay and wait another day to move on.

Promise to be shorter from now on. Rambling on too long.


And as almost always, there are more pictures on the flickr page.


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