Total to date: 3234km: Day: 104km and 1100m of climbing
We managed as early start from Dubrovnik, much easier to negotiate our way out of the old city at 6.30am. Like all these towns and cities nestled into pretty bays and harbours surrounded by hills means only one thing to cyclists – a sharp climb from a standing start – and Dubrovnik lived up to this with a steep climb immediately out of the city then a long climb once on the main road (D8 of course) before plunging back down to sea level.
The next stretch of road went out to the airport and was busy and not particularly nice, just a stretch that had to be done with its ups ands downs in an out of bays. Just past the airport we decided to say a last goodbye to the D8 and take a small road into the hills and to a much smaller boarder crossing into Montenegro. The road was lovely, with hilly country dotted with cyprus trees and blissfully quiet. In the middle however was a steep climb well over 1000ft.
We were rewarded with great views out to sea but I did find the climb very leg draining. A great descent from the top then few ups and downs and we crossed the boarder into Montenegro on the Bay of Kotor – and have the stamps in our passports to prove it. The Bay is amazing – a large outer bay narrows right down4 before bulging out again into an inner bay. We cycled 10 kms into Montenegro and had our ‘second breakfast’ in a very posh restaurant (it turned out) in Herzeg Novi.
We were then able to take a small road along the beachfront for most of the way to the inner ‘neck’. Here was built up all the way and the road was mainly shared with pedestrians wandering along or up from the narrow pebbly beaches, not expecting to be mowed down by 2 cyclists and certainly not looking where they were going. My bell came in very useful – the equivalent of the cars that toot to us as they overtake to warn us they are coming (the only problem being that by the time they are tooting they are already almost past us).
At the neck between the inner and outer bay there is a 5 minute ferry that crosses to take you directly to Kotor – but that way we would miss what is described as a jewel of Montenegro so we decided to cycle the 30km or so round the inner bay. It was amazing scenery. The inner bay is surrounded by high rocky mountains. It clouded up giving a rather dark and broody feel to it – very atmospheric. It was also hot and sticky and my legs were feeling very drained from the earlier climbs so was grateful that it was also mostly flat. We stopped for a swim and picnic then continued through pretty towns to the main town on the bay, Kotor. Anchored outside was an enormous liner and several other very posh looking boats of various sizes. Somewhere going round the bay of Kotor we clocked up 1,000 km on this leg of the journey but did not mark it due to incompetence.
The campsite we thought we may stay at just before Kotor did not seem to exist so we arrived at the walled old town and asked about accommodation. The accommodation agency did not have any and advised us a head back the way we came where numerous apartments and rooms were advertised and knock at the doors to ask for availability. We were really tired, hot and sticky and could not face it. There was a 4* hotel on the corner of the square. It wasn’t too expensive all things considered and they had a room so we took it. A bit of a contrast to the camping we had planned but hey – you have to be adaptable when travelling!
When we had recovered a bit we took a strolls round the walled old town. The cathedral had quite a different feel – catholic but with an orthodox feel to it. Columns of pink stone and wonderful silver alter piece. We glanced through the upstairs museum where much silverware was on display and the usual saints relics.
We managed to keep our eyes open while we had a meal which was more about refuelling than speciality cooking (although it was perfectly acceptable) and headed back to our comfortable air conditioned room where I collapsed exhausted for an early night.