Day 27: Ulcinj, Montenegro

by - August 29, 2011

We got up in Shkoder for our last ample Albanian breakfast at the Hotel Colosseo.  Today we would be travelling from northern Albania to southern Montenegro.  We had heard that furgons departed for Montenegro occasionally, however as we had not come across any we would be taking a taxi who was willing to complete the fifty-odd kilometre journey (including a stop at the border) for 25 euros.  The journey to the border was mainly on country roads and as we were near the edge of the country we saw far more Hoxha bunkers than we had seen elsewhere.  The border crossing was fairly painless and we were soon on our way to Ulcinj where we arrived at 1pm.

Ulcinj Bay
Ulcinj was, until the end of WW1, an Albanian city before the Montenegrins invaded and as a result the population is around 70% ethnic Albanian.  The seaside town is popular with Albanians themselves as well as Europeans who would like to sample a bit of Albanian culture without taking a plunge into the country itself.  It was also an infamous pirate grotto in times gone by.  Unfortunately the taxi driver didn’t know his way around and as a result of a mix up with the driver whereby he interpreted my pronunciation of “plaza” as “plage”, he left the town and drove us several kilometres down the coast to a nearby beach.  It was here that we were dropped by our Albanian taxi driver and had to swap him for a local who knew where our hostel (Stevo’s Guesthouse) was.  This was all a bit of a waste of time and money, but we got there eventually.

Having checked in and got orientated we walked south down to the beach that we had ironically been dropped at earlier but hadn’t wanted to sit on with our rucksacks.  The walk was longer than we expected and instead of passing the two headlands that I had pictured in my head, we ended up going around seven or eight - so needless to say we were very up for a swim when we got to the beach.  The beach itself was relatively pleasant, however it was quite windy and the water was so shallow that it was a bit of a hike out to sea to get your knees wet - we felt pretty refreshed afterwards though.  The walk back didn’t seem so bad because we were out of the heat of the day.  After going out for a meal in the evening we explored Ulcinj itself.  While it is not as famous or dramatic as towns further up the coast, the pretty little beach is still popular and crowded (hence our walk down the coast) and the old town on the cliffs is very picturesque, especially at night.  We had only visited Ulcinj as a stop over on our way north from Albania, but as stop overs go it was very pleasant.

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