Friday, 28 October 2011

The perfect balance

We blitzed on south down the a faster road which turned out to have just as stunning views as all the others- gorges, mountains, bank after bank of goldern yellow trees and any time the rock impeded on the road's path, a simple little tunnel simply cut through it. We stopped for lunch in Podgorica, the capital, not because we'd heard great things about it but because we were passing anyway and knew we'd find wifi. It is amazingly like any small city in Europe- similar shops, clean, museums, sculptures and so forth. It was even hard to find anything but pizza, (very nice though it was), rather than Montenegran fare to eat.

I reflected as we passed through the country today that Montenegro is an unusually brilliant mix of old and new. When countries emmerge from a time of oppression they understandably want what all the more western countries have already and throw out the baby with the bath water. Here, they have quite sensibly kept everything that works for them- how they farm and stack hay in marvelously stable tall stcks for the winter: how they build their homes and live: the lack of hawkers indicating no desperate reliance on toursim: the way they work. On the other had they've absorbed many things that work for them- modern clothes: the Euro: cars and trucks: Italian cusine: tourism where it makes sense with no glitsy money making schemes to ruin it but useful and instructive infromation boards in different languages, walking guide books and so on. Everone we saw later in the day, out in the vast chestnut wood gathering chestnuts to sell, was in modern dress and using wheelbarrows just as we would do in the UK if we had the sense to still collect this free produce as opposed to ignore those under our feet and go and buy imported ones from the shop. THe best of both worlds woderfully combined.

We planned to get over the Albanian boarder today but wanted to take in the National Park on the shores of the humungous and stunning artificial lake Skadararks which spans the boarder many kilometers in each direction. We picked up a hitcher and after dropping him off at his car which he'd left parked some distance in, discussed that actually we'd be better stopping around here for the night as there were often queues at the boarder. Good thing we did- we were driving around for AGES looking for a spot- a combination of too many villages and not enough wee roads or lay bys on such a narrow road. We even passed our hitcher coming out of his gate in a tiny village which gave all of us an amused supprise but we found a really nice spot in the end and, for once, it was just about warm enough to eat outside and sit a while admiring the stars.

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