Saturday, September 12, 2015

Leaving on a jet plane ...

By the time this post appears, I'll be well on my way to spend a week hiking in Montenegro. Why? Because I still can. As always when I travel to places where I've never been and don't speak the language, I'm aware that I'll barely comprehend much of what I see; what follows are just the basics anyone could get from Wikipedia and a few books.

Since Montenegro is literally "off the beaten path" for most of us, I thought I'd include a few maps. Montenegro is a tiny Balkan country -- population 620,000; area about half the size of Vermont -- the last fragment of the former Yugoslavia to break away from Serbia by way of a referendum in 2006.

This map shows the country's Balkan context. As one might gather from the country's name -- the realm of the Black Mountain -- this rugged land is off the main track, even among Balkan states. There's a Montenegrin story that when God finished making the world, he had a bag of rocks left over: the result is Montenegro. The country prides itself on surviving as a Christian (Serbian Orthodox) enclave outside complete control of the Islamic Ottoman Turks when the rest of the Balkans came fully under that empire's sway between the 16th and the early 20th centuries. These days, Montenegro very much wants into Europe proper and is a candidate for both the European Union and NATO.

And Montenegro aims to grow its tourist business, as this map demonstrates. We'll be hiking in the ancient forest of the Biogradska National Park in the north central mountains, rafting down the Canyon of the Tara River (the deepest canyon in Europe) and then walking among mountains in Durmitor National Park. The trip finishes with a hike in the Lovcen National Park (that's the Black Mountain) near the town of Budva on the Adriatic Sea.

I expect the trip to be strenuous and beautiful. I have pre-posted on this blog various items that caught my fancy. I don't know how much internet access to expect along the way -- probably some, but one never knows. Anyway, there are already new posts for everyday. I might pop in to comment on Montenegrin beers. And certainly there will be some pictures when I get back.


Michael Strickland said...

I envy you completely. You're going to the ancestral home of Nicolai Tesla.

Brandon said...

Have a good trip!

Hattie said...

I hope you are having a great time and eagerly await your report on this fascinating adventure.

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