Morning in Shkodra / Montenegro Logistics

Hotel Carmen Breakfast Dungeon

I wake up late. Well.. not really, it’s 8-something, we’d just wanted to get up early to figure out how to get into Montenegro. But getting a full sleep, so good. Shower up and get my things packed. Don’t hear any movement from the other side of the wall. Text MacKay. He’s not showered yet. Not even out of bed yet. Alright, maybe I’ll check out and get some coffee somewhere while I wait.

I get down to the front desk and there’s a cute girl working now in a flowing red and white floral, traditional looking dress. I’m guessing she’s the daughter of the attractive lady from yesterday that was wearing the exact same style of dress. She looks up and comes rushing over. “Your breakfast is all ready!” “There’s breakfast?” She looks at me quizzically, assuming I would have known about this. This quickly transitions to a full smile, “Yes breakfast is downstairs. Please, follow me!”

She leads me downstairs to an open banquet-like area and takes me over to a table. This is cool, like a stone cellar. All of the bench seats have wagon wheels. Wouldn’t have expected all of this to be down here. Oh yeah there’s a whole spread set up. Wow, awesome.

“It’s cold let me heat it up. If you need milk I can open it.” “Thanks. Think I’m ok without milk.” She carries my plate away to heat it up. Super nice girl.

She comes back with the plate. “And your friend?” “I think he’ll be down shortly.” “Ok. I can heat it up too. When he gets here.” “This is great. Thanks so much.”

Jacobs 3 in 1 instant coffee. Super sweet.

MacKay finds his way to the breakfast dungeon and takes a wheel seat. “Damn, this is great.” “Yeah, she heated mine up in the oven over there if you wanna figure that out.” He figures it out.

Over breaky we put our noggins together on Montenegro logistics. “So I was looking at possible bus routes. What do you think about getting a bus to Ulcin… ghhh…Ulcinj.. I dunno, and then just renting a car and driving to the coastal towns?” “All the way to that girl’s hometown?” (MacKay’s referring to Mia whom we’d met on the ride to Belgrade). “Don’t think we have time to go all the way to Herceg Novi and crash at her parent’s pad. Unfortunately. But up to Kotor at least?” “Sure. We can do that. Be fun to get some wheels.”

After breakfast MacKay still has to get ready and pack his things so I decide to step out and find some real coffee on the strip somewhere. There’s a place right next door and I grab a seat on the patio and just take things in waiting for the coffee to cool down.

Another pleasant day in Shkodra. Lots of folks milling about on their regular routines. There’s a dude on an accordion outside the café, playing traditional tunes similar to the guy we’d found by Rozafa Castle. Shop owners outside their places watching the world go by. Bunch o bikes cruising passed. 

MacKay comes out to join me and we try to figure out the Montenegro thing some more. Looks like there are bus stations just at the end of the main drag we’re on. “Shouldn’t be too hard.” “Nah. So how about that dog posse last night?” “Haha jeeeeeesuz dude! What was that about?” “Albania Mania.” “Ha seriously. Liking this city. Has a bit of a Niš vibe.” “Ya it’s cool, for sure. Get this show on the road?” “Yeah, just gotta blow up the lobby bathroom.” “Nice.”

The coffees are 60 cents each. All we have are 1000s. Coffee Guy looks at it puzzled. “Sorry. It’s all we have.” He shakes his head and takes it.

We thank the girl at Hotel Carmen and grab our bags. “25 bucks for a sweet room in the center of town with free breakfast?” “Hard to beat that.” “It’s silly.”

We start off towards the bus station. There are a bunch of students going by on bikes with signs, chanting stuff. Not sure what that’s about. A little further and they’re holding hands blocking the road. Some sort of protest. They let us pass without contest. We’re clearly not their target. Seems a light-hearted critical mass type of thing.

Out by the roundabout there are some buses here and there. Hard to make sense of it so we just dip over to the tourist info place and explain to the girl there that we’re heading to Ulcinj.

A bus leaves for Ulcinj at 215. It’s 5 euro.” “Hmmm that’s 2 and a half hours from now.” “Yes. There is another at 120 but it is large bus and stops in Podgorica and Budva. Many people, so longer wait at border. Sometimes an hour. This first one is minivan and takes different border so it will be shorter. Then in Ulcinj you take taxi or bus anywhere, ok? Maybe a bit more but very convenient.” “Ok thanks.” “Yes it will be pick up over there at 215. Pay the driver” “Great, thanks.”

“Hmmmm well that’s not ideal.” “Ok.. brain suds and blog it up I guess.” “Yeah. Time to kill.” We start back towards the strip.

We set off and a guy on the street leaning against an older black Mercedes just asks, “Montenegro?” as we’re passing. Interesting. MacKay and I exchange a look and a shrug. We go over to investigate. “How much?” “What city?” “Ulcinj?” “25 for both. Direct. Right now.” “Ok. One sec.” “No problem.”

We step away to size up the prospect. “Soooo…15 bucks more than the minivan option from Info Girl.” “More comfy. Definitely faster at the border.” “And leaving immediately. As long as we don’t get robbed and killed I think it’s brilliant.” Look over at the dude. “I don’t think that guy’s gonna kill us. Private Mercedes into Montenegro sounds kinda dope.” “Fuck it, let’s go.”

We give him the nod and he immediately rushes over to get the trunk. “Ok ok! Let’s go to Montenegro, yeah?” “Yeah man, thanks!”

Alrighty, Mercedes into Montenegro w a personal driver. Why not?

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