Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to hear from you!
This week I am really excited to feature a very beautiful, romantic story from Gunes Akdogan and Sandrine Chamussy. Gunes, a photographer from turkey, started out on a long term journey on the 2nd January this year.Sandrine, a nurse from France,began her travels in June 2011 and walked all the way from France to Serbia with two friends. Whilst staying in a commune in Rudnik, Serbia, Gunes and Sandrine met and fell in love. Since March, they have journeyed around The Balkans together, passing through five countries and travelling over 1,000km so far. Travelling on foot with around 5€ a day each to last them for another five months, they tend to camp or stay with hospitable locals. Such an inspiring story!
This week, Gunes has told me a little about their favourite country so far, Montenegro. You can read all about their adventures on either their English, French, or Turkish blogs, view videos on Youtube or Vimeo, and follow Gunes and Sandrine on Facebook or Twitter. I’ve included a selection of their incredible photos of Montenegro, but you can view more from the trip so far on Gunes’ Flickr feed.
Can you tell us a little about where you’ve been?
We travelled from Serbia to Macedonia on foot, passing through Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia. All the places we passed were wonderful. Montenegro is little bit more special than other because of its nature.
All over Montenegro there is almost no industrial area. All the foot-passes and bike-trails are marked and mapped. It’s a small country but has lots of different landscapes. While we were walking, one day we were on a canyon, next day a valley, two days later a hill top etc… It’s like a natural amusement park. Whatever you like, you can easily find in Montenegro.
It’s really clean, nice and safe country. People are friendly and extremely helpful.
So did you have good weather for walking?
We passed through Montenegro between the end of March and June. The weather was wet. Almost all April was rainy and snowy in high altitudes.
What did you see and do?
We passed two canyons, The Piva and The Tara, which were great. Skodar Lake and it’s surroundings were also extremely wonderful. On Tara Canyon there is a wonderful bridge which is 172 meters above the river, with camping areas around.
Walking all the way from north to south and exploring the beauty of nature was all we did in Montenegro.
Do you have a highlight from Montenegro?
In the last week of March, after a week of walking in Bosnia & Herzegovina with sunny weather, shorts and t-shirts, we arrived to a small village in Montenegro, Mratinje on the 31st March. We woke up on the First of April with the heavy snow. It was like a joke for us. We decided to stay one more day in the same place to explore around and have a rest. We found an artificial lake without water and took a walk on the ground of a lake. It was fantastic. Bad weather caused us to have a very strange experience.
Where did you stay?
Mostly we stayed in a tent, wild camping. Sometimes people invited us to their homes and two times we stayed in hostel. Wild camping is easy and wonderful in Montenegro as it’s full of natural parks. Nobody disturbed us.
I don’t know much about Balkan food. Did you eat well in Montenegro?
In Montenegro the most popular food is smoked meat served with cheese. We were lucky that we walked around villages as we had a chance to taste home made food. The best area is also a very well known gastronomy trail between Danilovgrad and Cetinje. All along this route we had the chance to try delicious honey, smoked meat, cheese, palacinke (pancakes) and more.
An improvised trip like this one must leave a lot of room for things to go wrong. Do you have any funny stories?
In a village named Cevo, there is a man named Vuko. This man has a kind of local restaurant/cafeteria. We stayed there for four days, eating twice a day. After four days he asked us for 100 €. The next day when we left the village, we ate at another restaurant and paid just 3€ for the same plate. Afterwards, we learned that Vuko is very famous around Cevo for loving money!
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone headed to Montenegro?
In Summer, the Tara canyon is extremely nice for nature lovers. You have the option to camp, or stay in wooden houses. Go walking, fishing or rafting.
For the travellers who like history and seaside, a trip from Bar to Kotor can be nice. The best season is between June and September. The coastal areas are much more expensive than the East – don’t forget to bargain!
And finally, what is the most useful Montenegrin?
“Mozda” means “maybe” and “moze” means “can” or “can be” When people invited us in and offered us a drink “moze” worked a lot 🙂
NB – all photos belong to Gunes Akdogan, for more please check out his Flickr.