The Montenegro coast from Utjeha to Kotor (76/16,834k, 1,000m)

(written by Dave)

Last night was our first night in the tent in quite some time and we survived.  Actually, on past bike trips we’ve both often sleep fitfully the first couple nights in the tent.  This was not the case last night.  It could be that we are both getting so used to changing beds/rooms/towns and even countries, almost every night, that the tent is now just another little blip, a blip that is not worth waking up for anymore.  And packing the tent went very smooth.  I followed most known and unknown tenticate rules, keeping me safely out of tenticate jail.  It helped a lot that there was a breeze and the tent was virtually dry.

If tent packing went well, bag packing was a little harder.  When camping we use almost everything in our bags and getting things re-packed just right is hard, especially when you are out of practice.  Both of us found ourselves closing more than one bag, only to discover an item that was supposed to be in the bag just closed.  This means opening, adjusting and re-closing.  Not a big deal but you do start to think that you might be getting a bit senile at some point.  At least with the bags, you have no one to blame but yourself.  Bag packing rules are highly personal and no coaching is needed (thankfully).

We were finally on the road about 8:30.  We had a very steep climb right out of camp and it was pretty hot already.  The rainy days of Bulgaria seem like a distant memory now.  We are not complaining, but we not used to the heat.  We followed the coast most of the day, at least until the town of Budva.  Unlike when we were in Turkey, we are now riding north and have to look across the traffic to see the water and coast.  Even still, there were plenty of scenic vistas for photos.  The Adriatic coast is quite spectacular from what we saw today.

One of the visual highlights of the day was Sveti Stefan Island.  It is no longer technically an island as there is a small isthmus.  In the 1500s local folks built a fortified village on the island to protect against the Turks who were making their way up the coast.  It later became a home for the pirate gangs that ruled the sea here in the 1600s.  It didn’t take long for the beauty of the place to win out with royals and resorts moving in.  Today, the entire island is a 5-star Aman brand resort.  It was too early in the day and that’s too many stars for our lodging budget – so we stopped for photos and pushed on.

We had lunch in Budva and really thought about pulling the plug on riding further.  It was 33 on my bike computer, parked in the shade at a little cafe where we stopped.  But we both kind of wanted to reach Kotor so that we could take a day off and look around, and.  We loaded up on water, and drank lots in the remaining 26k.  Our last obstacle of the day was a 1.6k long tunnel to reach Kotor.  There was an alternative climb over the pass and we were not sure bikes were allowed or safe in the tunnel.  We stopped at a servo for cold drinks and a consult.  Both workers spoke good English and said the tunnel was safe and that bikes were allowed so off we headed.  We stopped at the entrance to put on our flashing lights, grit our teeth and wait for break in the cars.  It wasn’t too bad actually.  It was a little uphill but there was a tailwind and not many cars.  Best of all, the tunnel dropped us right in town.  We were ready to be done riding and it was a short ride to the information centre.

The centre was not overly helpful on private rooms, they only knew of one (probably their uncles or something like that).  So we headed off in the general direction of town to see what we could find.  We stopped at a couple places and looked but they were not quite right.  Eventually we found a nice apartment and were able to negotiate a good price.  Nancy looked at the first couple of places, I looked at the one we eventually picked, so therefore, I think I get credit for the search today and is should be Nancy’s turn tomorrow [editor’s note – no, I looked at many more than Dave so it is still his turn tomorrow..].

We headed off to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for dinner and breakfast.  Big plans for tomorrow include exploring the old town and walking up the fortification (a 1200m ascent with 1350 steps).  We will try to get out early before it gets too hot and may have to take a siesta during the hot part of the day.

And finally some sad news, when we checked our email this morning, we had a note from a fellow cyclist that we’d met in Laos.  Henry was riding in Laos with his wife Sandra when we met them and shared some nice conversation and a dinner overlooking the Mekong River.  Sadly, Henry informed us that Sandra had passed away in early June after a short battle with cancer.  We only met them for a day but you form bonds when you meet people on the road.  We both had Henry and Sandra on our minds today as we rode the coast.  Rest in peace Sandra and our condolences to Henry and his family.  It’s moments like these that remind us of how lucky we are to be doing this trip.

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3 thoughts on “The Montenegro coast from Utjeha to Kotor (76/16,834k, 1,000m)

  1. After much searching, I found the post where you mentioned dinner with Henry and Sandra. No pictures, but if others want to be reminded go to: Highway 13 ramble to Khone Phapheng in the Laos posts.

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