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Cameras: Canon 70D DSLR, iPhone 4 and GoPro Hero.
Lake Skadar, near Virpazar, Montenegro.
Lake Skadar, near Godinje.
Deserted beach on Lake Skadar, near Godinje.
My favourite goat.
‘Let’s have a sniff then, darlin’.’
‘What’s your problem?’
More goats. Such noble beasts.
Cat on slippers.
Man in lake.
Winemaker near Virpazar. Both his red and white are delicious: fruity, fresh and smooth. He’s not a fan of Montenegro, though: everything is ‘problem!’ Or, if not: ‘catastrophe!’
Painter on beach in small village called Buljarica, near Petrovac.
Sveti Stefan, a beautiful islet acquired by the Yugoslav government and turned into an upscale hotel during the Tito regime. Now a 5* hotel resort where rooms go for thousands of euros. A big shame.
The beautiful old town of Perast on the Bay of Kotor, where cars are banned.
St George island, near Perast, with a lovely 12th century church.
Kayaking to St George and the artificial island Our Lady of Skrpjela.
Docking at Our Lady of Skrpjela island, created – so the legend goes – after locals discovered a painting of the Virgin Mary on a small reef and took it as a sign they should build an island there. People still take rocks and gifts to the island today to thank Mary for her protection.
Scary hounds near Perast – just a few of the many caged in small compounds in the area.
One of several regular ferries arriving to bring hordes of day-tourists to Perast.
View of the Tara River Canyon from Đurđevića Tara Bridge. At the time of its construction in 1937, it was the biggest vehicular concrete arch bridge in Europe.
P enjoying the view.
Canyoning – scary, chilly and fantastic fun.
Taking the plunge!
Thank god those cliffs got in the way.
Catnap in Petrovac.
A selfie after two months on the road. I think I look rather good.
En route to the Albanian border from Podgorica.
Note to self: best check border crossing has been built before cycling 18 miles to get there. No way back except the way I came. A bad day.
Goats mock me on my way back to Podgorica. What a clown, they’re thinking. I can see it in their eyes.
It is pretty crappy, to be honest.
Finally discover the correct route to the border, near Lake Skadar, and try again. After the crossing there seems to be an awful big hill on the horizon, however.
Halfway up the hill – part of the Prokletije range on the Montenegro/Albania border – and I’m already suffering.
22km and 2.5 hours later, I finally make it to the top – and what a descent is in store.
Maud enjoying a well deserved rest.
Me ruining a lovely view.
Sheep! Just one of many throngs of livestock I am to meet today.
In Albania, I seem to be some kind of pig magnet. Every time I stop I am surrounded.
Road starts crumbling a few miles after I reach the bottom.
Soon there’s very little road at all. And then the rain starts.
Exhausted, hungry and wet, I eventually ditch Maud, barge into someone’s house and demand they take me to Vermosh (a mere 25 miles away) through the medium of Pictionary.
They don’t – but they do drop me at the nearest village, where I’m handed over to a kind man with a truck who can take me the rest of the way.
Maud enjoying a rare lie down while we wait for the road to be cleared.
My hitch-hiking companions: an Albanian man currently working as a chef in Canada (left) and a young Israeli couple (centre).
One of several road clearances we wait for en route.
It’s dark and pouring with rain when the car in front gets a flat tyre. Our driver heroically sidles past with just inches separating him from the sheer drop to his right. What a hero.
After 2.5 hours driving just 25 miles, we make it to the guest-house in Vermosh, where we are greeted with hot showers and delicious home-made food.
Last-minute bike check.
A feast of home-made goats cheese, beef stew, bread, chicken soup, chips, rakija and ‘boronica’ (a type of strong berry schnapps)
Grandma, who can’t speak English (like our hosts), but has a lovely smile.
The household is strongly Catholic, though the majority of Albanians are Muslim (approx 60%).
Our hosts: a lovely couple.
Another friendly pig.
The charming guest house.
The çifteli, a plucked string instrument with only two strings, played mainly by the Gheg people of northern and central Albania and Kosovo.
The mandatory dram of morning rakija.
My attempt to leave the guest-house is scuppered by a very rickety bridge that splinters under Maud’s weight. Buggernuts..
The shallow stream blocking my escape to the road.
Moments before I take the plunge, shoes and socks in hand. Recorded air temp: 8 degrees.
High in the hills, en route to Montenegro border. I need to re-enter the country in order to cross to Serbia and Kosovo.
Cows. I’ve now learnt not to be scared of them. They never move.
Albania-Montenegro border. Barely a soul in sight.
A toy box church in Montenegro.
There’s a definite tarmac shortage in Montenegro and Albania.
Verdant hills on my way to Berane – just before a torrential downpour that soaks me to my very core.
Building work near Rozaje, Montenegro. The country is basically one giant construction site.
Rozaje: a very odd, soulless place centred around a preposterously huge and shiny hotel (now closed ‘due to issues with the government’, a local tells me). All the shops and restaurants have mirrored glass, which is strangely unsettling.
My miserable hovel in Rozaje, with dirty carpets, no curtains and what looks like blood and hair on the walls. It’s called Motel Milenium (sic), for anyone keen for a stay.
One of the many invitingly pitch black tunnels through the Montenegrin hills.
A final goodbye to this stunningly beautiful, desperately dysfunctional mess of a country. I’ll miss you.