Wed 30th May 2018
We are in the shadow of Bobotov Kuk the highest in Durmitor National park and some say Montenegro’s highest mountain as we look up from the site, this morning we walked in to Zabljak for a few groceries, taking a cool and damp short cut through the woods, it’s cloudy and threatening to rain, we can hear the distant thunder rolls. It’s only 15 mins to town and we pop in to the small Tourist Information office to ask about zip lining, Jezero Crna, the black lake and walks in the area. Zabljak is a ski resort town and it feels in between seasons, skiing has ended but it isn’t summer either, this is the same all through Montenegro so far.
The town sidewalks are badly worn out, broken and crumbling, there doesn’t seem to be evidence of any maintenance on the roads and paths for a good few years, this is not unusual as it seems as all the towns are in the same condition.
The buildings look old, tired and uncared for, rotting wooden frames and structures, broken cement on the walls, large cracks and patches of exterior plaster missing, then we come across new buildings and they look out of place, it’s a strange mixture of old with a little new.
As we walk around we sometimes get friendly, but strange looks from the locals, we nipped in to a VOLI supermarket, filled up our rucksack and a bag for Cathy with as much as we can carry and head back, but we got caught in the heavy rain, huge wet heavy raindrops splattering down on to the dry, dusty paths and roads, the roofs and street drains can’t cope with the volume of water and soon everything is flooded.
We quickly find a coffee shop for shelter and it’s a very smart, trendy, with brand new décor, new furniture and newly painted walls, with very smart bathrooms, there’s good music and great coffee, it’s such a contrast between the majority of the eating and drinking places that are dated and not maintained. €4 for two coffees is quite expensive for Montenegro though, back at camp we set off to walk to the black lake from the site, the reception lady says it’s a round walk of 2hrs 45 mins. Using the map, we set off, I think we expected the paths to be marked or at least easy to follow but oh no not here! We walk where we think the paths are and using my super map reading skills, we eventually made it up the hill through the damp woodland and moist air, we got bitten again! We can’t seem to escape from the bitey things!
The latter part of the route was way marked with stones and rocks painted with a small red circle and inside the circle a white dash or line. The last 20 mins was very steep downhill on rocky terrain and we are talking of not returning this way if it rains but maybe walk back on the road to Zabljak, or maybe get a bus.
The Black Lake does indeed look black, it’s surrounded by large evergreen trees mostly pines that casts shadowy patches across the water, it’s cloudy hot and humid once again and this adds to the moody dark atmosphere. The water is very still, no ripples or movement and there are some reflections of the skyline on the mirrored water.
We turn left towards the waterfalls, parts of the shoreline walk are steep, rocky and slippy, we have our walking trainers on. Two extremely steep sections have rope handles attached to the rock faces to help you descend, we saw one group turn back not fancying the descent, the waterfalls are quite small but beautiful in their own right, and you have to walk through the base of the waterfall to proceed, we could have taken another steeper path and walked over the top of the falls but it would have added another hour, so we just walk straight in and through the falls and cross getting our feet fully submerged, there’s no point trying to skip over and balance on loose rocks here because there’s a chance you might fall in to the lake! It feels refreshing to have wet feet, socks and shoes for a while and then it becomes annoying! We thought we were brave until a young woman carrying a very small baby comes towards us telling us there are 3 more!
The heavens open and it pours down and we are quickly soaked, we walk quicker to get to where the road is, as we approach the buildings 15 mins later we think we can get a coffee, use a toilet and maybe ask someone how we can get back. And guess what, nothing is open! In fact the coffee shop and loo are under construction, Cathy goes into the loo as it’s open but she said her feet were in 2 inches of water as there’s a huge hole in the roof! We are thoroughly wet through and soaked to the skin now, we have no option but to walk along the road hoping to find a bus stop, a café or similar! After 15 mins we reach the entrance/exit to the lake, there’s a car park here, lots of coaches with wet people in and there is a man sat inside the booth, nice and dry! The rain is running off us like we are under a drencher shower head! Cathy gives him one of her enchanting smiles and asks about buses or a taxi, no bus he says then he shouts to his mate sat in a car next to the booth, he winds the window down an inch, he obviously doesn’t want to get wet either, a short loud conversation happens and Kiosk Keith asks where were going ,he tells the other man, Kiosk Keith says €7, ok no problem let’s go, by the way it’s not a taxi, it’s a 30-year-old Yugo and before we are allowed to climb in we are given two black bin liners by Kiosk Keith to sit on! I’m in the front, the car is falling apart and filthy and full of crap but we are so grateful. He signs to me to wipe the windscreen for him, he can’t see but he knows the roads, so he doesn’t use his wipers and wear them away! We can’t see a thing, the rain is so heavy its like a monsoon out there.
Whenever we are asked where we have come from it’s easier to say Manchester UK and the response is always Manchester United! and we jovially say no Liverpool FC!, the universal language of football is a barrier breaker, no doubt. The man starts gesticulating with his arms and hands about the Liverpool goalie against Real Madrid, we no idea what he is saying he’s loud and he’s gesticulating so much hes not looking out of the windscreen half of the time ! but its good fun, friendly banter. I am instructed to wipe the windscreen again and he puts his wipers on for just one sweep! The car is literally falling apart, there’s various parts of the interior missing but at least his seats are dry – lol!
He takes us to the camp and we are so pleased to get a lift back in this really bad weather we thank him profusely and gave him €10, he seemed genuinely taken aback, they are such nice people.
We step out of our wet clothes dropping them into the black bin liners, put the heating on, have a shower and get the wine glasses out, time for another episode of Outlander.
Cathy made a veggie fajita spicy dish, we were in full munch mode when we realised that unlike the UK there are only 3 tortillas in the packet and I had eaten 2 already! Good job I’d bought her a bar of chocolate earlier.