Long but Rewarding Day

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
What I did
Stari Grad - Budva Montenegro
Skanderbeg Museum & Castle - Kruja, Albania
Old Bazaar - Kruja Albania
National Ethnographic Museum - Kruja, Albania

Flag of Montenegro  ,
Thursday, May 3, 2012

We had our breakfast buffet and most everyone was in the lobby before the appointed 9 am for our onward journey.  We squeezed into the new mini van with lots of complaining because it was such a tight squeeze.  The seat in front of Marilynn did not go up all the way so it was constantly falling on her knees.  I couldn't sit straight in my seat.  I don't know how the tall men with long legs, like Graeme and Jordan, managed.  Jordan did complain a bit.  But we survived..quite a few hours on that bus.

After a short time, we were let off in Kruja noted for the Albanian hero Skanderbeg.  There is a nice museum dedicated to him.  There were also remnants of an old castle that we couldn't get into.  However, there was a great little ethnographic museum* in an old house with rooms reconfigured in the traditional way with banquettes and rugs, cradles, old clothes, a kitchen with implements.  It was very nicely done and I am glad that I didn't miss it.  Someone from our group, I can't remember who now, went and recommended it.  We had two hours in the town, so when I finished with the ethnographic museum I went to get some postcards.  I still have 500 lek left and haven't changed it.  I should look for a place tomorrow.  I forgot to look today.

A bit after Kruja we crossed the border into Montenegro.  I think the scenery changed almost immediately or maybe I imagined it.  The number of mountains was similar, but maybe they were pointier.  There seemed to be more trees and lush grass.  I did see one flock of sheep with long hair.  The mountains just seemed so pointy!  We traveled on more curvy roads.  In fact, even when the land seemed relatively flat, the roads still were very curvy.

Since we were all suffering in the minivan, it seemed ages before we arrived in Budva.  It was 4:15 in the afternoon.  We checked into our Hotel Kangaroo.  The Australians seemed excited but not overly so.  Our room was a delightful surprise - light, airy, a big balcony with a clothes rack to dry our laundry, a big shower, refrigerator, TV.  What more could we ask for?  Oh, and we can see the sea.  Our room faces the Adriatic Sea but it is not exactly on the shore and there is not really a clear view, but we can see it.

Louise led us to the Stari Grad - the Old City - a 15 min walk from the hotel, partly along the sea walk.  I tried to remember the route to get back because we were all going to split up.  Once we got to the Old City, Marilynn signaled to me and I joined her, Doreen, and Estelle.  We wandered through the narrow alleys between the stone walls until we got to the old church where we took a bunch of photos.  I was absolutely enthralled by this area.  I loved the stonework, the shutters on the windows, and, of course, the hanging laundry.  It was all so picturesque.  Of course, it is also very touristy - jewelry shops with all kinds of gold jewelry and boutiques with the kitchier souvenirs, but I still loved it.  There were also pizza shops.  There seems to be a love of Italian food here along the Balkan coast.  But, pizza, like hamburgers and Coca Cola, are almost universal now anyway.

As we made our way back, we ran into another ethnographic museum so we paid to get in there and saw some interesting pottery, jewelry and weapons from Greek, Roman and later times.  Some of the guns were very long.  There was glasswork from the Roman period that looked very modern.  The jewelry was very fine and pretty.  I meant to look out over the rooftop area but forgot.

At that point, we were ready to eat so went in search of a restaurant along the waterfront.  The first restaurant - something like the fisherman's pub - didn't seem to have much choice of fish so we continued.  There was a restaurant with one of those little chef statues in front and we ended up there.  It was named Nikole.  The waiter was very friendly and gave us the lowdown on the fish.  He showed us some mussels and a few kinds of fish and made some recommendations.  We were put off by the high prices - euros are the currency here - and Montenegro is the most expensive place we have visited so far.  It ended up that Estelle got prawns in a red sauce with her white wine.  Doreen got beer and Marilynn and I got white wine and the three of us (including Doreen) shared one fish - a romron ?? -  a Russian fish I think.  There was more than enough for the 3 of us and it was quite good.  Along with it was a mixture of spinach and potatoes - the waiter made us understand what vegetable he meant by telling us that Popeye ate it.

At the end of the meal we learned that he was Serbian and he had met his wife at a restaurant.  They married about a year ago and now she is going to have a baby.  He said 4 or so years ago, Budva was not anywhere as developed as it is now.  There are lots of Russians who come here and buy up land and start businesses.   Budva is definitely a buzzing place.  Louise said when she was here checking out the itinerary, there were hardly any people around.  I think I would have liked it that way, but this is OK too.

We started back to the hotel as Marilynn and Doreen planned for their coffee ritual.  Estelle said something about ice cream as we were passing an ice cream stand.  Soon she and I were getting cones - my second for the day - I had Hazelnut ice cream in Kruja that was quite good.  So then Estelle and I started back.  By now Marilynn and Doreen were gone.  Estelle and I were walking and talking and soon it seemed we were farther on the seawalk than where the buildings were.  I mentioned something, but Estelle was convinced we were on the right track.  Eventually we turned back and then she took a short cut.  I was dubious about that as well.  We cut across some sort of shopping center and then ended up at a wall.  We backtracked and then were only separated from where we wanted to be by a fence.  I climbed over a shorter section and Estelle had to go farther around.  Finally we found the place where we had crossed the road on our way into town and we headed for the hotel.  Estelle stopped at the ATM and so did I.  Twice in one day.  Not good.  Those euros slip through your fingers.

Once at the hotel, we met up with Marilynn and Doreen.  Back at the room now, washing hung out to dry hopefully, I started on today's blog and am almost done.  I think I have a few errors in yesterday's but I might copy it over onto the blog site anyway and correct it later.

The national ethnographic museum of Krujė was founded in 1989 and is
located in a 15–6 room villa of the Toptani family built in 1764. The
main exhibits of the museum are objects of artisanship, whose age varies from 60 to 500 years.  from Wikipedia

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