HELP! Mike and I are famous, or should I say infamous here in Virpazar because we basically shut down the entire village for almost half an hour when we arrived, including completely blocking the only intersection in town. We are in a campground in Montenegro that we shouldn’t be in. The campground is fine, the road to get here was not. We did call the campsite owner ahead of time and gave him our details and he said that we would be fine. Well we are fine in the campground; it was just getting here that was a problem. When Mike started to turn into the very busy village of Virpazar, I yelled at him to stop because I thought he was turning into a small driveway. He was correct, it was the main “road” into the village, absolutely filled with cars and people. If I haven’t mentioned it previously, the locals in Montenegro park just about anywhere they want, often with the front end near the curb and their back end stuck out into extremely narrow roads. This frustrates Mike everywhere we go. Even driving through this village in our car is difficult, with mirrors having to be turned in and cars having to back up to let others by. Somehow Mike did get the RV through the centre of the village, over the little bridge to the only intersection in town. The road we were on was uncomfortably small and the road they were directing us down was even smaller. There were buildings on one side and a drop down to the river on the other side. Normally Mike could have squeezed through assuming no other cars but this time there were cars parked in front of the buildings with their back ends sticking out at an angle into the tiny road.
It turns out that Virpazar is a very busy little village. It is the starting point for most of the boat tours of Lake Skadar which is one of the top tourist attractions in Montenegro. All the photos here right after a couple of days of downpour. The village was much less busy than normal. I will replace the pictures if it ever stops raining before we leave. At the top you can see the small bridge we came over, the main village parking lot to the left, the main road continuing towards the top and our little road to the right. Mike left the RV blocking the entire village traffic while he took the car down this little road to see if it was possible and what the campground looked like. We told everyone that he would be gone for 5 minutes, he was gone for almost one-half hour. I kept telling people, just another couple of minutes! I couldn’t phone Mike on my cell phone, but another woman nearby called the owner of the campground to try and find out what was happening. Everyone was quite helpful. Cameras were everywhere. I have to believe that there was a flood of photos of our RV that day on Facebook and Instagram. I wish I could find one of them. Eventually Mike came back and said that we were going to drive down this road. I had a fit. I just wanted to turn around and leave. We were definitely too large for this place. Picture this. Mike starts down the little road, trying to avoid the backend of the “parked” cars. I am walking in front of the RV trying to see where the wheels are going. I keep yelling for Mike to stop and backup as the front wheels almost go over the river drop-off. If anything crumbled, we would be done. Somehow, no-one knew how, Mike did get down the road. Quite seriously, if the cars parked in the lane had been an inch or two longer, even he couldn’t have physically squeezed by.
The campsite owner seems to be friendly enough but since English isn’t one of the many languages that he speaks, it is hard to talk with him. He does have a son who speaks English who he calls and then gives us his phone, when he wants us to know something. You can just see the top of our camper in the photo below. As you can see, the road did get a little better as we left the village towards the campground. It is still only one lane wide and if we met other cars they would have to back up, but that is quite normal for the smaller roads in this country. At least here, there are places where you can pull over.
We had a few nice days, I will tell you more about that later. It is now pouring rain, and will be for many days. Between the rain and worry about leaving I am not in the best of moods. We have decided to try and leave late one evening just before it gets dark. Hopefully most of the cars and people will be gone and we will be able to exit the town. There is a bus parking lot just off the main road before the village. We will go there for the rest of the night. This is a good plan, but it will only take one small car, parked even worse than normal, to prevent us exiting.
Every time we go into this little village people see our Canadian flag and know instantly who we are. They are quite nice about it and laugh with us, but it really isn’t comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, the campground is in a nice area, there has been quite a bit to see and do. It would be fine if we just didn’t have to drive our large camper in and out of the campground. In case you are wondering why we don’t go down this lane away from the village to exit, well we did look at that. The lane goes into the mountains and has one S bend turn that Mike says is completely impossible to get an RV our size around, even with backing up and going forward multiple times. If he says it is impossible, I believe him.
We did drive down this lane on our bicycles. With our electric bikes, I didn’t really notice that the continuous incline uphill went on for 10 -15 km. As we turned down another track to return, we found ourselves much higher than anticipated and, for many kilometres, didn’t pedal at all. We had to use our brakes the entire way. This wasn’t great for the brakes, but it was fun for us. Again, as you can see below, this track was a good width for a bicycle path but it was really a two-way road and there could be traffic from either direction at any time. Some of the locals, who know the roads, don’t slow down for the many blind corners like they should.
While biking, Mike sometimes wears his clear plastic safety glasses. They look funny but they actually work really well. With the side covers on the glasses, his eyes are completely protected from bugs or anything else flying around.
I expect that we will be trying to leave this village soon. We are considering going into the mountains up north. Mike is trying to check Google Street Views to see if the main roads up north are OK. One problem is that the area I want to go doesn’t seem to have any campgrounds and also no truck stops, so I am not sure what we are going to do. Our next big question is where we go after Montenegro. Many people told us to go into Albania. They said that the people were really friendly but that the roads were awful. There is a very nice campground that we have heard of not far from the border with Montenegro. The problem is that we have to buy extra RV and car insurance to enter Albania and then we would have to buy insurance again when we return to Montenegro. We also need to buy insurance for Bosnia which we will have to pass through. All in all, I think we will give Albania a pass.
We have two main alternatives from Montenegro to get north. We can return through Croatia, where our insurance is valid. Croatia is a very long skinny country and we would probably end up on all the same roads and in the same camping areas that we have already spent a lot of time in. That wouldn’t be as interesting as the other choice which is to go through Bosnia and Herzegovina. Google Street View doesn’t work in Bosnia which is a concern. We aren’t sure about the roads or the campgrounds. We will probably check and see if there are campgrounds in the areas I want to visit where we will fit. If there are we may chance it. A family from the Netherlands is leaving our campsite tomorrow for northern Montenegro and then Bosnia. They may be able to email us some additional information.
For those technical ones in the audience, we have been here over 30 days so we needed to buy our second cell phone plan. One company offered unlimited data which I bought to watch TV with for $15 (10 €). Mike has a $7.50 (5 €) plan that gives him 100 GB for 15 days. In Canada I think it cost us something like $40 – $60 for 5 GB/month. This is just wrong in Canada. Mike thinks it’s because the CRTC charges too much and creates too many barriers for cellular service providers.
I will fill you all in about the actual country of Montenegro and our sightseeing soon.