Thursday 24th May 2018
I woke early, nipped outside and removed the bedding from the line & took the line down, we didn’t want the workers and owners to think we had “moved in”, at about 8 am we started to make breakfast when the mechanic came over and told us he needed our van, the parts have arrived and they wanted to get on with the job. So now it’s a quick game of getting dressed, pack a bag of what we might need, bottle of water, Cathy’s tablets, laptop, wallet, phones, close the windows, skylights down, bed up, gas off, etc and to pack inside the van ready to move, all the while the chap is stood outside close by waiting. We vacate and he drives the van to the garage.
About 10.15am, I walk around to the bay around the corner and as I approach I see the mechanic driving Pogo out of the bay and off up the road, I assume he is doing a road test after finishing the job, well I hope that is what he is doing as our home disappears down the lane again!
15 mins later Pogo is back and we find that the front discs have been replaced and new brake pads have been fitted, all is now okay and is good to go, not bad as it is only 10.30am.
The bill was 2529kn (£347) but we have peace of mind once more. We paid and left thanking them for the speed and efficiency of the job, we are pleased it has been done so quickly.
We drive heading off for Montenegro, the border is 15kms from here, but first we use all our kuna cash on diesel, 9.45kn per litre, (£1.12) and a road map of Montenegro. We stop to have our breakfast and have a break for 30 mins, whilst we are resting I get all the necessary documents ready, V5 log book, insurance cert, passports, drivers licence, MOT and a €20 note to enable us to buy the necessary green card insurance at the border! We are aware that the green card provides only third-party insurance cover for 15 days, but we are looking forward to visiting Montenegro.
Now we are at the Croatia border control at the rear of a small queue (there is lots of advice stating to try to avoid crossing into Montenegro between 8am and midday as it is extremely busy with day trippers and coaches going to Montenegro for the day from Croatia). We creep forwards and hand our passports over through the window, they are scanned, logged and returned with a smile, we drive 3 or 4 kms to the next border check at Montenegro and we are in another queue but this one is not moving so quickly, and it obviously takes longer, we sit quietly in the cab and wait our turn. We moved up to the booth, all my documents ready (we are left hand drive so the booth and chap are on the correct side for us) I hand everything over, he says green card? I said no, he said, “go there, buy and then here” and he kept our passports.
We move to one side, park and I go in to the office, well it’s an office of sorts, it’s an old building, the door frames have been ripped off exposing the brickwork, the window frames are damaged, there are two coats hung on a nail with bunches of keys, lunch boxes and newspapers on the floor in a corner. There are no signs, but it obvious where to go and who to see. I wait my turn, and look around at the battered desk and chairs, the pc and scanner look new but everything else looks well used, worn and tired.
There is only one man here issuing the green cards and he is most disinterested in everyone, between processing the documents he is messaging on his phone avoiding eye contact. He slowly types on the keyboard, camper? Yes, I said, €18 he utters, I hand over the euros and receive the piece of paper (it isn’t green by the way!)
The €20 note is lobbed on top of all the other euros in an open drawer that is overflowing with euro notes, not in organised stacks of denomination just all mixed and jumbled up like tombola raffle tickets.
I walk back to border control man in his booth to collect our passports, I wait as he processes other vehicles entering Montenegro, he sees me, I show him the paperwork and passes the passports through the door that is slightly ajar, I check that they are indeed our passports, they are and go back to Pogo. We are legal now and off we go to explore Montenegro.
We can’t quite believe it, we are finally here, it’s exciting as we like to discover new places. It is also odd in a strange way as we will not be going any further south now, but we will be heading roughly northwards via Serbia and Hungary hopefully there are many more adventures to be had!
I had read that the speed limits in Montenegro is 40 kph almost everywhere, I am okay with this, as we notice that the roads are bumpy and rough in parts and it might be difficult to exceed this. Within 5 kms over the border control we see 3 police cars waiting for speeders entering Montenegro, they have already caught a couple, but drivers still overtake and exceed the limits!
When entering another country, it is interesting and distracting, looking at the signs, roads, junction layouts, shops, building restaurants, how drivers park, I am taking it all in and I am happy to keep to 40kph but everyone else behind and around me is frustrated and overtake or try to overtake, I instinctively double my usual braking distance and keep extra space around me.
We are heading for Perast near Kotor, at Perast there is nowhere to park, the towns are built on the steep slopes of the mountains and access seems limited, we pulled onto a car park area on the busy road, there is parking here so maybe we can walk in to Perast and have a look around. I go over to a man sitting in the shade who looks like he is in charge, it costs €2 per hour for a car or €5 per hour for a camper, that’s too much I said, he repeated €5 per hour, I couldn’t see a ticket machine, so I am not sure what is going on, I decide to not bother. We sit in the van for 10 mins deciding what to do next, it seems there any no camp sites listed in this area, they are all on the Adriatic or in the north, we drive on towards Kotor.
The road follows the shoreline and we can see the biggest cruise ship ever as it slowly manoeuvres its way towards Kotor.
We got stuck in traffic jam in Kotor, soon it’s apparent why, the ship has thrown its thousands of passengers off in Kotor town, the whole place is grid locked due to people walking everywhere without a care in the world, the residents in cars and delivery vans look fed up, the ship is absolutely massive and Cathy says it’s an ugly sight in this lovely little bay and most people will not spend any money as it’s all free on board, she may be right.
We battle through and we are hot, fed up and a bit short-tempered, I had an idea, let’s go into a supermarket for the air con, cool down and have a mini break and pick up some food and supplies, In the store I also asked about a SIM card for Montenegro, I could buy one but then you have to go to register the card at a Telenor store which is in the town centre? I wasn’t expecting that I just thought I could buy it and put it in, well I’m not going back there amongst the cruisers!
We spoke to a French couple in a camper about sites in this area outside the shop but they couldn’t find any sites near here either, there are some to the east but we want to go north, on the way at Budva, we stop at a petrol station to ask about the SIM card for data only and we get the same advice so we go into town parking at a cheap €1 car park, I leave Cathy in Pogo as I walk the 5 minutes back to the Telenor store we had just come past. (Neither of our mobile packages or the 3 SIM in the mi-fi include Montenegro)
Once in the store I collect a numbered ticket and waited my turn, there are three service terminals but only 2 people are serving, I am number 75 and one is serving No.66 and the other is serving No.71, oh it shouldn’t be too long then. After 10 mins, standing in this heat, there are no seats, its obvious this is going to be a very long wait, No.66 was still serving the same customer when I got served 45 mins later!
I asked about data only SIM for our wi-fi unit (motorhome mi-fi) and that was €89 plus €10 for a card, I don’t think so! I bought a prepaid SIM for €10, so we can make calls and internet usage (200mb) from my iPhone, it will have to do.
Cathy thinks I have been mugged or got lost, I’ve been that long, she is in the van being baked!
We agreed to drive off and find a site as we go along, after 10 mins driving northwards, we spot a camp sign, we follow it down a rough road and it seems to be heading towards the coast, the camp signs disappear, Cathy says carry on following this road and let’s see what’s around the corner.
We end up at a private beach bar called Ploce Plaza, Krimovica, there’s a security guard we ask if we can sleep here, he says yes but only outside the gates however we can use all the facilities, the beach and bar are free to use as is the beach but if you want loungers then you pay for them, that’s fair enough. Once levelled we go for a well-earned cool drink, what a place, great views, free wi-fi, little rocky beaches and swimming pools, it does look a bit exclusive. This might be a great free spot after all, and we needed a break, it’s been a long day.
The evening sun is slowly dipping and we go back for our tea, Cathy has made a triple tomato risotto, it’s one of our staples and we eat it a lot! It’s also cheap.