I’ve mentioned the scenery of the trip so far a few times, but oh my God nothing prepared me for the trip into Montenegro. It was like a fantasy land. The bus wove along mountain roads, through tunnels, along gorges, it was incredible. The mountains were spectacular white and grey and the water a kind of blue I’ve never seen before. It just didn’t even look real.
We arrived at the Monastery where we would be spending the night. The Ostrog Monastery is the most famous holy place in the former Yugoslavia, an Orthodox Christian monastery founded by a highly revered saint who corpse is on display there. It is covered by a blanket but has apparently not decayed at all since his death. I went to see it but of course because of the blanket couldn’t verify this. We spent the night in the pilgrim’s quarters, strictly separated between males and females and there were a stack of rules about what could and could not be worn in the monastery and the rooms. Oh and there were no showers.
The monastery is built into a cliff face at an altitude of about 1400m. It’s pretty spectacular, and although we were drive to our quarters, the actual monastery was quite a hike up the cliff.
The biggest thing we noticed was how hot the pilgrims seemed to be. Gorgeous girls everywhere climbing to the top of this mountain to pay their respects. We all sort of expected ‘pilgrims’ to be older 🙂
We had a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant, and I tried Hercegovinian wine for the first time (apparently it’s very very good) but it was a bit meh, so I mixed it with some coke to make a bamboos 🙂
The most amazing thing about the trip to Ostrog though was not the monastery or the experience of staying there, or the scenery, but the story of a French couple we met there.
They were on their honeymoon (like Mike and Angela from our own group), but while we thought coming on a group adventure holiday was an unusual choice for Mike and Ange, this couple had an even more adventurous honeymoon. They were three months into a six month WALK from Paris to Jerusalem!!
AND, they had left with absolutely no money!
Each night they would camp out, and they had been relying on the generosity of the people they met on their travels for donations of bread and dinner. It was an incredible story,. I don’t know how they did it but they seemed to be going good after 3 months, although they did seem to have lost a lot of weight.
We bought them breakfast the following morning and they told us that the monks had invited them to dinner the previous night, and given them a present.
The girl was travelling with a backpack which weighed 4kg and the guy had 7kg. The monk had given them a book as a present – a huge coffee table book in colour about the history of the monastery, it was the biggest heaviest book I think I’ve ever seen. And he expected these poor people to walk with it (doubling their luggage weight) for the next 3 months. Aw.
So they gave it to us and one of the guys is going to take it back to Australia.
We then left Ostrog for the “Montenegrin Miami” – the seaside town of Budva, where we’d be spending the next 3 nights surrounded by Russian tourists 🙂