From Bay of Kotor to the heart of Durmitor
About roads of Montenegro we can write a whole book 🙂 It’s true that they are more steep and curvy than the roads you probably know, but as long you keep driving the main ones you don’t have to worry about anything. The main roads are quite new and in a very good condition. However, if you leave the main roads, the situation changes quickly and things are getting interesting. The lack of tunnels in the mountain terrain leads to a whole bunch of serpentines and curves, many of which are difficult and sometimes dangerous to drive. Regardless of whether you drive small mountain roads or bigger highways, always drive according to the speed shown on the signs, since you meet quite often police cars checking your speed and believe us, they really don’t want to hear any of your excuses for speeding.
Remember: Try always to use the main roads and never ever take any side street or shortcuts in Montenegro 🙂
And here is why:
We planned our visit to Ostrog Monastery for the Holy Trinity day and wanted to manage to participate the Liturgy, which usually starts around 9/10 am. As we were staying in Dobrota close in Kotor we thought it would be possible to get there on time. Well, not always everything goes as planned. The day before we found out from the locals that Liturgy was at 6 am in the morning, so unfortunately we had to skip it, as from Dobrota to Kotor we needed around 2 hours. In theory… but at this point we still didn’t even imagine what was ahead of us. Breakfast, packing, ready, go! Shortly after we left Dobrota, our GPS suggested a “better” route than the one we saved (along the main road). Usually the suggestions were always good and reliable, so we accepted. However, we don’t know if our GPS tried to be funny that day (if that was the case: bad humor!) or was mad at us for something, but as soon as we turned right (in Risan) to the new route, we basically entered hell.
- …starts to go up very steep;
- …”earns” its label as an “asphalt street” only half. Yes, you could see traces of asphalt that might have been used to build it, but calling it street would be just an offense to other roads;
- …it is so narrow that only one car matches (and not even that always!), so we could forget about turning around and going back and started to pray that no car will approach us from the front (and yes, it was supposed to be a two-way-road);
- …has on one side a wall of falling stones, on the other… well… nothing, except for the continuation of the wall downwards. Traffic barriers of any kind (artificial or natural)? Never heard of!
- …turnes more often than any carousel and curves were so narrow, that we had to beep every time to warn other cars that might be further uphill.
We could only drive max. 10 km/h and not seldom used only the idle for “driving”. My husband was focussed on driving while I tried not to look out of the window and not to show Zosia how terrified I was (though it is possible that she interpreted the absolute silence in the car correctly). I started to pray. Every meter further up the road became more and more challenging with conditions getting worse and the curves becoming more frequent.
Our almost full-time-beeping was the right thing to do because once another car actually approached us from the front. Thank God he heard us, because he was not really slow (he was local and knowing the terrain allows you to drive 20 km/h, which is super fast for this road). With fold up side mirrors and feeling like dancing on a tightrope, we eventually managed to pass each other.
It was really a horrible experience that I don’t want to be ever repeated again. But at least we learned one thing:
NEVER TOTALLY RELY ON YOUR GPS and ALWAYS ASK LOCALS for the best roads, because you never know when your GPS has a moody day and tries to play with you.
After some time we got back to the main road and could start to breath normal again. We needed a short break.
A few kilometers before the Ostrog Monastery itself the road starts to climb up again, but having far better conditions, there were even crash barriers! We would have never thought how much you can appreciate the presence of them. Furthermore, the closer we came to the Monastery, the more we somehow felt protected by St Basil of Ostrog (Sveti Vasilije Ostroški) and it was easier for all of us.
Though this was the most intense driving experience in Montenegro, it was not the only one. When I recall the drives we had in Montenegro, I have an enormous respect to our driver – my husband – for keeping us safe.
But the day of “vomit roads” (a vomit road [ˈvʔmɪt ,rəʊd] A s: 1) a road that looks like vomit on GPS and so does in reality. 2) also, the course of the road can be described by the look of your EKG if you would do it while driving) was not over yet. After visiting Ostrog Monastery we had to get to Žabljak, where we were supposed to spend the following two nights. Žabljak is a small town in the north of Montenegro in the center of the Durmitor mountain region. On the way there some more curves were waiting for us, but this time they didn’t cause a nervous breakdown anymore.