the balkans jewel
By hugo & lucas
Who would have thought such a small country had so much to offer – so many
landscapes, so many recipes, all these wonderful people we met and all the adventures
we lived? This country looked much more modest than everything we had seen so far,
but it was without counting on Kotor, city sitting in an enclave, surprising us by its
wealthiness. Carved stone buildings, luxury shops and a port ready to welcome huge
ferryboats. But wait! A few surprised were to expect in the heights. We were heading to
the mountains where we were about to face the terrific, frightening and dreadful
Montenegrin goats! We walked though a small secondary path among the mountain,
where no one seemed to live, except the goats. This was what we thought till we met
Francesco! This seventy years old man is living on his own, in a grange, on a field listed
by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Welcoming, he offered to have us at his place
for some tea, which we accepted.
If you happen to go for tea at Francesco’s, be aware it will take a bit of time. This tea
invitation ended up in an hour and a half of geopolitics talks. Interacting in a mix of
broken English, half forgotten French and Montenegrin that we are not familiar with. It
will therefore be difficult to relate Francesco’s great geopolitics ideas to you. But if you
are curious and want to know more, our only advice would be to go meet him and try to
understand what he gabbles.
When time came for the tea, Francesco was proudly wearing a medal of the General de
Gaulle he received as a present, and confessed to us the great admiration he had for
the General. This totally unexpected meeting would have allowed us to taste nettle tea.
No need to be afraid, it will not sting; once infused, nettles are inoffensive!
Let’s move on and talk about the next person we met, Aleksandar. Meeting slightly less
random but still surprising. Our friend Alex was the one giving us his contact, in case of
need. WE managed to get him on the phone, and, without even knowing us properly, we
ended up invited to spend the weekend at his grandmother and uncle’s place, in a
grange still. This one was not on an UNESCO site, but still, hundred time more lost. So
lost that the road leading to it is not even in Montenegro anymore; but not yet in Serbia
either. To make it simple, we actually still do not really know in which country we were at
that time. When it is snowing, the village is cut from the rest of the world. To get there
and to leave it, count at least 45 minutes walk just to access the road. But let us tell you
that the recipes we discovered there were worth every risks we took with our lives in the
fog, surrounded by bears and wolves!
The house was the simplicity itself. One main room with a stove, a sink and a bulb, two
tiny bedrooms, one toilet (and we’re as happy as Larry) and that’s it, visit over. But,
when you think of how well hosted we were, this small house is taking a complete new
dimension, and we thought of it as a castle looking at how they treated us as kings.
Everything you will be eating there comes from the farm; the vegetable, the bread, and
even the meat is coming from the herd! This is more than likely what makes the charm
of the place. And, surely, this is what drives Zorka (alias Baba, the grandma) and
Dragan’s strength and joy. They are seen in their smiles and in their eyes. Let’s not lie;
once again, communicating was difficult! We spent two nights there; two nights of
intense moments, full of human warmth.
We would find again some more human warmth in Sutomore. Svena welcomed us with
a lot of charcuterie, cheeses and olives we engulfed easily. The language barrier
escalated to a new level this time. Svena was speaking Montenegrin and we were
replying in French; even though, we managed to understand the bus timetable and the
tickets price. On the road to Virpazar where Marco opened the doors of his restaurant to
offer us breakfast and tell of about the story of his village. His behaviour was just
confirming again how lovely, generous and welcome are the Montenegrin citizens. The
country is generous by its people but not only; Montenegro is offering so much of
gorgeous landscapes as well. The Skadar Lake is one of the most beautiful proofs of it.
This is a must see if you travel Montenegro!
This beautiful adventure is promising recipes just as wonderful as the moment we shared with
shared with the great people we met on our trip in Montenegro. Don’t miss it!