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Sunday, September 25, 2016

9/16: Montenegro to Kosovo: 3 Buses, 3 Countries & 11 Hours Later

Yesterday we had toured all but one of the five museums on Cetinje's Museum pass ticket so this morning we had enough ime to visit the last one before heading on to Prizren, Kosovo.

This is the lovely home, built in 1896 we stayed at in Cetinje. Our huge room was on the bottom right:
The Ethnographic Museum was only located a couple of blocks away as everything seemed to be in the small place.
I had read that few of the museum's signs were in English but that must have been old information as, luckily for us, that was not the case. These were tools used in the last century for spinning wool and winding it into balls.
Darlene: I naturally thought of you at these exhibits when I saw the Hand Operated Distaff and the Winding Machine. You mmust be happy you don't have to bother using items like these nowadays to spin and wind wool!

Montenegrin men's strukas or woolen wraps which were also used as rugs as necessary.
Carpet's motif with the national pattern during the second half of the 19th century.
A chair mat; wonder how soft it would have been to sit on!
20th century women's belt:
This heavy outfit was part of the Albanian women's costume from the 19th century.
Koret, a woman's garment also from the 19th century. Aren't those pleats fabulous!
Part of the Montenegrin men's national costume at the end of the 19th century. I wonder how long and for what sort of celebrations this was worn? It had to have been terribly heavy.

Montengrin women's blouse worn in Cetinje last century:
I loved this women's scarf that was also from the 20th century.
The Ethnographic Museum was small but we spent a pleasant time wandering through its exhibits of Montenegrin clothing.

We walked back to the Court Church that we had seen yesterday and were in luck this time as it was open.
The Church is known for its golden iconstasis or screen bearing icons which separates the sanctuary from the nave.
I think you will agree it was absolutely stunning.

One last peek in at the Cetinje Monastery entryway with the monk in the background.
I was intrigued by the very large murals there were on buildings throughout Cetinje. Wish there had been descriptions about them somewhere as they were fascinating,

The Girls' Institute we had read about yesterday in the History Museum: It was founded in 1847 by Russian Empress Maria Alexandrovna and was the first institutional step in achieving gender equality in Montenegro.
Directly across from the Institue was this complementay mural.
We had been looking for awhile for the Friday Food Market and were glad when we finally came across it. It wasn't exactly on the tourist beat, shall we say, which meant it was what we preferred.

The whiff of fresh basil was very strong right here. It was certainly far fresher than any I have come across at our local King Soopers grocery store. I wish I could have packaged up that scent as it's one of my favorites!
The odors from these cheeses were very strong and not ones I wanted to package up - more of a matter of holding my nose as we walked by!
After walking back to collect our bags, we walked the few minutes to the bus station for the first of three buses today to our final destination; Prizren, Kosovo. This was the first station we'd been to that had no bus schedule, nobody working and no place to buy tickets or ask questions. I had bought all our tickets online months ago so we figured we'd be all set.
The Friday Clothes' Market was just around the corner from the station so I wanted to scout it out as I would have liked a slightly heavier fleece jacket. However, it was more of a flea market and not quite what I had in mind!

Photos from the bus en route to either Podorgorica, our first stop or Ulcinj, the second stop; I can't remember where I took these from!

We heard a train rumble past; it was the first one we had seen in weeks.
No idea what was growing in the lake. Lily pads possibly?

Aftr being on a couple of buses and traveling for several hours, we were glad we had a two plus hour layover in the southern coastal town of Ulcinj, Montenegro. We put our bags in the bus station's Left Luggage and got a taxi into the old town to wander around and grab a bite to eat. The driver left us off at these fortifications which dated back 2.5 thousand years and were high above the sea .

Pretty amazing views of the coastline from the fortifications:
Photos of the fortifications:
Heard the Muslim call to prayers from loudspeakers as we walked by here.
Archaeological objects from the late Gothic and Renaissance periods that probably should have been in a museum and not, I thought, left to the elements:

We had a finite amount of time to wander before having to get back to the bus station and also decided one Ethnographic Museum was our limit per day so gave this one a pass!
There was only one direction to go from the fortifications and that was straight down toward the sea and the town. What a pretty stroll it was too!

What gorgeous views if we had had time to just sit on these cushioned steps and gaze into the sea below.

This hotel restaurant's table had to have had the most beautiful and romantic view I have ever seen. Too bad we didn't have the time to sit a spell and order a glass of vino.
Passed the Straniak Academy for Democracy and Human Rights on our walk down the hill. Interesting and rather unexpected.

Where we had come from:
And where we were going. A rather unusual building on the right - it looked like an upside down spaceship! We walked for a short while along the promenade which was filled with restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. We grabbed some grilled chicken sandwiches at one of the smaller places because we were worried about getting back to the bus station in time. They were delicious and only cost a couple of bucks!
Time, however, was not the issue when we got back to the station and collected our luggage ready to get on our last bus for Prizren. As I mentioned earlier in the post, we had our online tickets from the same company for the entire three leg trip today. The first two tickets worked as they should with no issues but, alas, that was not the case at the bus station in Ulcinj. 

A number of the bus stations in the Balkans required the purchase of tickets to get onto the bus station platforms before getting on the bus and then also we normally had to pay to store luggage in the compartment under the bus. That was no issue once we realized those were often the policies. We just needed to make sure we had enough local currency before leaving each country to account for these expenses. Once, we only had about .50 left after paying fro both so that was cutting it a little too close, even for Steven! 

The big issue at the Ulcinj bus station was they wouldn't sell the ticket to get onto the platform without puchasing the bus ticket itself. They refused to accept any online tickets and, despite our pleas and begging for assistance, they remained adamant and would not allow us on the platform. It was a stressful time because our bus was filling up with a long line of people and it was about to leave for what we thought was a three hour journey to Prizren. In the end we had no recourse but to buy tickets which, of course, were a good chunk more than we had paid previously. So very luckily, we did have enough euros left as they didn't accept credit cards. The experience reminded me of our Cetinje host, Petar, and his rather dire comments a few days earlier on the Montenegrin bus system! (Follow up: Steven emailed the mayor of Ulcinj to complain about his bus station's policy and also the company where we had bought the tickets requesting refunds and advised them to no longer sell tickets departing from Ulcinj. We anticipate getting a refund.)
The trip from Ulcinj took almost 5.5 hours so it was a lot longer than we expected. Luckily, it stopped halfway at a truckstop in Albania which accepted euros as we hadn't been able to purchase any Leks, their currency, before leaving the States. We will be in Albania later for close to two weeks after visting a couple of cities in both Kosovo and Macedonia.
Once we finally arrived, seeminglyin the middle of nowhere after 11pm in Prizren, we were able to find a taxi without too much difficulty to the Prizren City Hostel.  The fellow there took pity on us because of our very long travel day and put us up in a double room with our own bathroom, a step up from what we had paid for. What a nice welcome to Kosovo!

Posted from Ohrid, Macedonia, on September 25th, 2016.

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