Down the mountains to the coast

Monday, August 05, 2019
Prčanj, Kotor Municipality, Montenegro
Today was moving day — time to move from the mountains down to the coast. We loaded up the car and set off on the 3.5-hour journey which included a detour to see the Ostrog Monastery, one of the popular sites in Montenegro. The long narrow road zigzagged up the mountain, at times allowing only one car at a time. We decided that it wasn’t worth driving all the way to the monastery, as the number of cars moving in both directions indicated that we’d be lucky to find a park near the top. And so we parked the car in a large open space where a number of buses were parked and procured a taxi to take us all the rest of the way for a total of 4 euros which was well worth it. 
‘The Monastery of Ostrog is a monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church situated against an almost vertical background, high up in the large rock of Ostroška Greda... It is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog (Sveti Vasilije Ostroški), who was buried here. From the monastery, a superb view of the Bjelopavlići plain can be seen...Ostrog monastery is the most popular pilgrimage place in Montenegro.
We queued up in a long line to enter the monastery, first entering the cave-church where we saw the enshrined body of Vasilije, the Metropolitan Bishop of Herzegovina who founded the monastery in the 17th century. He died there in 1671. A monk was presiding over his body. Michael and I quickly exited before we came face to face with the monk, as we noticed other people kissing the cross he was holding or kissing the enshrined body...I’m not too sure. It was certainly out of our comfort zone! We then climbed up some stairs to view the mosaic frescoes, as well as visiting another small cave church.
Hermann then purchased a candle which he lit and placed in the candle room — a small, hot room glowing with hundreds of candles. 
 The construction of a monastery so high up on the mountain side is really amazing. Apparently its more modern facade was build between 1923 and 1926 after a fire which destroyed the major part of the complex. The two little cave-churches were spared.
Our visit over, we walked down the steps through the forest area, regularly crossing over the zigzagging road. We had gone quite some distance when Michael became convinced that we had come too far. I was sure I had made note of the small church nearby on the way up in the taxi, thinking we would be able to visit it on our walk down, but just to be sure I asked a young couple who were confidently continuing to walk down the road. They reassured us that we hadn’t over-shot the parking area, and pointed us in the right direction (we had reached an intersection, and so choosing the right way was critical!). Back safely at the car, we ate some fruit and then continued on our journey.
At one stage, we noticed a young man driving rather erratically, doing his best to overtake anyone in front of him, even when it appeared unsafe to do so. We were commenting on his dangerous driving when he started overtaking a car ahead of us and came face to face with an oncoming truck. Lucky for him, there was space on the left hand side of the road for him to make a quick escape from almost certain death! We thought that the experience might teach him a lesson, but apparently not. A few minutes later, he raced past us and continued to overtake anyone in his way. We wondered how he managed the several kilometres off road under construction where traffic had to crawl along at snail’s pace. But we’ll never know, as he was long gone.
The drive down the mountains towards the coast gave us some spectacular glimpses of the Bay of Kotor — small towns at the foot of the mountains, right on the water’s edge. The traffic on the narrow coastal road around the bay was heavy and slow. We were hoping to park near the town of Perast, but the place was too crowded. And so we continued on to the small town of Prcanj and located the Lavender Apartments up the hill where we are staying for 3 nights. Hermann carefully manoeuvred the car into the driveway which isn’t easy to access from the narrow road and we phoned the landlady to alert her of our arrival. Within about a minute, she arrived and showed us into the lovely airy apartment on the second floor with a view to the bay and mountains. After settling in, we strolled down to the general store to buy some supplies and then trudged up the steep road back to our apartment where Michael made us another delicious pasta dinner. 
The weather down here is a lot warmer than up in the mountains — in the low 30s during the day, but it cools down to a very comfortable temperature in the evening.
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Comments

Tracy
2019-08-08

Hermann must have nerves of steel to drive the roads described and think the taxi to the church to avoid parking was an excellent idea. The coast looks very inviting looking forward to seeing what you do there.

Ian
2019-08-08

Interesting day, leaving memories of winding roads, a dangerous driver, a popular monastery and an attractive coastal setting for your accommodation. I had great difficulties in locating on Google Earth the towns you passed through, but I could locate the general area. I hope you slept well, as having a lunatic driver near you on the busy and narrow roads can be very unnerving.

melandmic
2019-08-16

Hermann is indeed a very calm, cool and collected driver, Tracy. There are many crazy drivers in Montenegro, but I think today’s maniac would be the worst I’ve ever seen. We came so close to witnessing a disaster. I’m sure we all slept very well that night, Dad!

2022-10-03