The picture above shows a snail moving towards the sign for walking, or hiking, paths in the landscape. In a landscape with such grand dimensions, you feel - at least sometimes - like a snail. And that is perhaps the whole point about hiking - to get rid of stress, move slowly, enjoy whatever little or big thing you encounter on the way and - sooner or later - reach the goal when time is ripe.
Montenegro - or Crna Gora which means black mountains - is one of the republics of former Yugoslavia with only 650.000 inhabitants. It’s a stunning destination for the tourist because of its amazing natural beauty thanks both to its coast - between Croatia to the north and Albania to the south - and its majestic mountains and famous historical capital, Cetinje.
This story contains mostly photos shot on the way more or less spontaneously. Walking in a group does not permit a lot of preparations or long waiting for the right light or moment. A few of them may have a more ‘artistic’ quality and you’ll find more of that in the ‘Montenegro’ category at Oberg PhotoGraphics here.
The Danish-Swedish group of hikers landed on May 5 in the capital Podgorica and drove to Virpazar. And that’s where the adventure began: First from Virpazar to Rijeka Crnojevica and sailing on Lake Skadar which lies at the border between Montenegro and Albania. From there up to the old capital Cetinje and onwards through the amazing Lovcen National Park to Ivanova Korita.
From there the group followed the steep descending path, went through a hole in the city wall to enter the magically beautiful old-old Kotor. And finally making it out to the village of Milovici with breathtaking views over the Kotor Bay.
You may click on each picture to see it better.
All photos © Jan Oberg 2016.
Virpazar - the point of departure.
A constant change of landscapes, colours and lights…
Here’s part of the group, at this moment under the experienced leadership of Steen Clausen. Old-time sepia-ized photo to indicate that throughout time thousands upon thousands have crossed these mountains on foot for exploration, trade, food, work, war, transport of goods and what not.
And the mountains have remained the same, watching us all in silence.
The long march has begun, up to 17 kilometres per day in a very up-and-down environment. Great fun - and sometimes challenging too.
The Skadar Lake!
Sailing in these waters, partly jungle-like, in the late afternoon, sun-setting and rain and wind coming up. A quite unforgettable scenary!
The sliding movement of the boat as well as the water and the wind in the trees - catching it by longer exposures which means: Giving it more time, letting more light in, blurring movements.
What is fixed and what is moving? Well, even the mountains aren’t fixed, only their soft contours to be seen.
Walking on, lunch with the local, very hospitable people. They know how to live a good life here in harmony with Nature.
We stayed not only at hotels but also with private families. One home was like a small museum with many references to travels, family history, religion, myths and national history - such as when the Serbs lost the battle at Kosovo Polje 1389.
People in this part of the world cherish history where many others live only in the presence or are always on the way to the future. It’s a good reminder that we are all products of a time, a space and a culture - although history has also been misused in the Balkans.
That was clearly the case during the dissolution wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In the West, few had any clues about the history and immense complexities in this part of the world. Fortunately, Montenegro became an independent state, unscathed.
Now on to the famous old capital of the kingdom, Cetinje.
It’s a place with numerous diplomatic and royal relations all over Europe, particularly under the modernising Nikola I who reigned first as prince (1860-1910) and then as king (1910-1918). At the age of 19 it was arranged that he marry Milena Vukotic - 13 years old at the time - and they had 12 children, several of whom were married into the royal houses of Europe.
After being buried in exile, the King and the Queen were finally laid to rest in the small Cipur Chapel.
Leaving Cetinje: An ever-changing landscape to explore - come sun, come rain. Beauty a-plenty!
At the place of Julia and Milovan: A couple of days with incredible hospitality, great food and wine - as well as all kinds of raki, slivovica and other rich-tasting, homemade brandies. To keep the group healthy in between long walks!
Remember you may click on each photo to see its details.
Blurred sights - with or without clouds sweeping over the mountain tops - requires that we look more mindfully.
The big contours there, the tiny details here. And we humans in-between…
There is always something that makes you curious when the path makes a turn…
And now moving down toward the coast.
A very steep, zigzagging descent from great heights down to Kotor in its bay.
Old Kotor made to look old.
In Milovici - even there - the sun sets and the sun rises!
In the evening you walk to a nearby Pectopah - Cyrillic for Restaurant - and enjoy ‘sopska’ salad, other good food and a bottle of vino crno (black meaning red), Vranac. And a few hours later - miraculously - breakfast is ready at Stone House with Lene and Steen (Stone) as magic hosts serving of a blend of local and Nordic delicacies.
On the way to Podgorica Airport, we stop at a small, beautiful Orthodox church at the coast.
Photos of the group - defined as more than three.
Defined as two or three.
And, last, some portraits which are - oftentimes - best in black-and-white.
And - finally - the first man and the last man…
And with rain on the wings, we leave Montenegro. For this time. Thanks friends for a wonderful joint journey!
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See also obergphotographics.biz and the portfolio of images from Montenegro under “Places and People” there.