It has turned into another beautiful day by the time we manage to crawl out of bed. Blazo has already taken off for work. Our personal Montenegrin guardian angel left us with the keys to his flat and instructions to leave them with Vladan before we continue on our trip. After an extensive breakfast we roll the bikes out of the garage and return to the workshop.
Besides the workshop crew, another familiar face is there to greet us. Nikolas came to the HU meeting from Greece but ran into some engine trouble on his KTM 640 Adventure. The rocker arm is a weak point on the KTM single cylinders. He knew about this potential problem, but unfortunately left it untreated for too long, causing damage to the cam shafts as well. It’s an avoidable problem, but an understandable mistake. The wear on the part is very gradual, the signs grow more pronounced almost unnoticeably slow. And then once you have established something does require your attention the magnitude of the job encourages procrastination. It’s a rather familiar process.
Replacements parts for his engine arrived early this morning, so Nikolas and Vladan will be working on the engine for the rest of the day. It must have been a frustrating few days for him locating and waiting for the spares. Fortunately Blazo lent him his own BMW GS to keep mobile in the mean time.
After being shown the extent of the damage, Sofie and I say goodbye to everyone. We have another appointment and new people to meet.
Chris and Ioanna have been in our facebook friends list for a while, but we’ve never actually met. They are on their way back from Albania and we’ve arranged to meet at a biker stay on the road to Tara canyon. After a quick drink we disappoint the staff by not getting a room. Sorry guys, we’re off to admire the beauty of Tara Canyon.
Our new companions stop for photo’s more often than we are used to. But it is their first time here so we’re quite happy to indulge. There’s plenty of beautiful things to see anyway. At one of these stops Sofie and I also take the opportunity to stock up on some delicacies.
While travelling we always try to buy local produce from stalls and small shops along the road. A special favourite is local honey. A small jar of the golden goodness is easy to carry on the bike and a tasty little extra to vamp up our breakfast. It is incredible how many different flavours of honey exist around the world. The lady running the little stall tries to sell us some rakija and liquor as well by having us try a few samples. We’ll just take the honey, thank you.
The ride together through Tara Canyon is fun and twisty. By the time we reach Zabljak in the north of the country, it’s time to look for a place to set up camp. A quick stop at the ATM later we pitch our tents on a camp site just outside the village. Ioana offers to make some potato hot pockets on the BBQ, so Sofie and I set off again for some groceries. It turns into a very cosy evening around the camp fire, together with some of the other guests.
Waking up to another glorious sunny morning, we are all pretty excited. I had promised Ioana and Chris that the landscapes we’d be riding through in Durmitor would be even more exhilarating than Tara Canyon. So expectations are high. Breakfast consists of a buffet of tasty things we’re collectively carrying.
Before setting off into the actual national park, we make another detour into the village center for some lunch supplies. Ioanna and Sofie pop into the supermarket and I score us some burek from the bakery across the street while Chris guards the bikes. Even though motorbikes are much more common here in Montenegro than in Bosnia, we still
attract a lot of attention and questions. Travelling by motorcycle makes you so much more approachable and interesting to the people you meet on the road.
We have only barely crossed into the Durmitor National Park when we come across the first spot we can’t pass up for a photo opportunity. I promised Chris and Ioanna views that would be more impressive than anything else they have seen so far in Montenegro. And this sure is a good start to support that statement.
The Durmitor mountains and plateau are truly an amazing place, with gorgeous views all around. But the 2 most iconic sights are Sedlo pass and the vertical karst rock formations which figure in pretty much every article covering the national park. It would be a shame to pass these places without taking some time to enjoy them.
Of course the attraction of this place doesn’t stop at the scenery. The curvy roads offer plenty of entertainment as well for us bikers. You could spend days here having fun riding up and down the narrow winding asphalt. But at the same time around every bend is yet another magnificent view begging to be captured on a memory card. Every other view presents a new dilemma: interrupt the ride or miss the beauty of what is on display.
Our ride is interrupted for other things than taking pictures as well. Coming around a particular bend we’re greeted with one of those foldable warning triangles you always carry in a car, but never seen to find back when you actually need it. In this case it is signalling a parked car surrounded by a group of Polish girls. They have just been stranded with a flat tyre. More like a totally destroyed tyre, really, as the side wall has completely disintegrated. We pull over to help them out.
The bolts holding the wheel are pretty rusted. It takes an extra long socket driver and a considerable amount of force to crack them loose. In the end they all give way and changing over the spare wheel is easy. For good measure I dot some grease on the bolts before putting them back. Bringing the spare tyre up to pressure is another story. None of us carry an electrical 12V pump so we’ll need to use the foot pump I carry for our bikes. Unfortunately car tyres need a lot more air than motorcycle tyres. The girls and I take turns pumping and meanwhile chat about travelling.
Agnieszka, Sasha and their friend are experienced travellers and quite adventurous. They run marathons, ride enduro bikes and travel all over. Meeting up with us here in Montenegro has given them some new ideas about doing a similar trip on motorbikes as well. Getting to know people on the road like this is one of the nicest rewards of travelling like we do. Plus, it’s a good feeling to be able to help others out for once after having been on the receiving end so often.
Before saying goodbye and taking some group photos we also give the girls the contact details for our friend Blazo. Since we don’t have any reception out here I can’t look up the address for the tyre place in Podgorica where Sofie and I had a tyre repaired back in 2014. The girls are going in the direction of the capital anyway so I advise them to get in touch with Blazo when there’s better reception. He knows the shop as it was him who pointed us to it in the first place.
Back on the road we leap frog with the car a few more times, stopping at different locations for more photos. I’m sure SD Cards are overheating all around with the continuous stream of sceneries being recorded for posterity.
By now it’s almost noon and we’ve only covered 25km. But we’re having fun and that’s what counts in the end. It’s not just the views or lovely Polish ladies that inspire us to stop so frequently, there’s also the marvellous absurdity of a basketball ring on the small road, in the middle of nowhere, right next to a steep drop into the valley below.
A bit further, a mountain meadow brownish green from the long drought still looks inviting enough to use for a late lunch. We spread out the picknick blankets and are inspired with a sense of zen emanating from the mountains around us while chewing on our burek and some fruit. It’s hugely relaxing to just sit and chill in the sun.
We can’t stay in the national park forever, eventually the road starts winding down into Piva canyon. The curves and bends are only interrupted by dark tunnels and finally the various views on the bright blue colours of the Piva river.
By now it’s late afternoon and pretty warm down in the canyon. So after filling up on fuel in Pluzine we collectively decide to camp in the little town. There’s supposed to be a camp site on the banks of the river. The location looks ok, but the place is completely abandoned. The shower and toilet buildings are construction sites and we definitely do need a shower after such a hot day. Luckily, next door is a restaurant with some huts. They agree to let us stay in 2 huts for 5€ pp.
The shower is a simple wooden box in open air. The food is delicious in its simplicity. We opt for the obvious choice of local trout. The begging local cats approve enthusiastically once they are fed the heads. A lovely summer evening is concluded with a few beers and exchanging photo and video materials. Tomorrow we’ll be going our separate ways again.