Ostrog Monastery

Trip Start Aug 25, 2007
Trip End Mar 25, 2008

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Flag of Serbia and Montenegro  ,
Saturday, October 20, 2007

Woke up at 6 to catch the bus back to Niksic. This time I was prepared. I took prophylactic motion sickness med and got there early to grab a front seat. This time I was even well enough to enjoy the scenic ride down. The only drawback was being enclosed with smokers who couldn't wait for the scheduled cigarette break. Eastern Europeans are simply chimneys. Even the kids in junior high. At least there was more air blowing through the bus than the trains. Trains here have one compartment in which the front half is for nonsmokers and the back half for smokers. Yup, as if smoke stops midway down the open compartment. Oops, got off on a tangent. I was dropped off at Bogetici, the town below Ostrog Monastery. It is the main pilgrimage site for Serbian/Montenegran/Croatian Orthodox Catholics and has two levels, lower and upper monasteries 3 kms apart.  The upper monastery seemed to be carved out from the canyon. Suspended and embedded in the cliff.

There was a taxi driver who offered to take me to the Upper Monastery for 10 Euros and the Lower one for 5 Euros. Well you know me. I arrived at the Lower one and put my bag at the konoba (small restaurant). Another taxista offered to drive me up to the top for 1 euro, but my taxista quickly shushed him by explaining in Montenegran that he had already told me 5 euros extra. All of the taxistas then w lightening speed changed to "ya, 5 more euros".  I told myself that I was here to experience the pilgrimage, not to take it easy. The typical pilgrimage was to hike up the mountain and spend 3 nights in the Upper Monastery soaking in the holiness. While I was walking the 3 km worth of steps, I passed many Orthodox Catholics carrying food, clothes, donations up. Up on the upper monastery, devout believers kissed holy relics and doorways and backed out, per their tradition.

On the way down I met two Frenchmen who offered me a ride in their cab because we were all going to the same destination. As I was getting into the car, a big band of taxistas came out and said I could not leave with an outside taxi, that I must take their taxi. They were insistent that I cannot leave Ostrog with anyone but them, even if the French had already paid for the entire day's worth of chaufering. I felt the taxi drivers were ganging up on me, which they were. I was livid. I was ready to thrown down. Thanking the French guys, I hoisted my backpack and without so much a glance backwards, I started walking the 8 km down the mountain to the bus stop.  It was a combination of principle and sheer stubbornness. I was not getting into a taxi even if I had to walk 16 km with two backpacks. Of course stubborness only helped me walk 3 km before multiple ankle sprains. My thumb came in handy again and within minutes, I was down the mountain eating my lunch and sitting on a rock at the side of the road. This was the Bogetici bus stop. The entire time I was throwing evil looks at the top of the mountain (as if the taxistas could see me) and muttering, "ne dobro" (Montenegran for "no good"). I did not know the Montenegran word for bad, evil, bullies, or money-hungry pigs. I told myself that I had to learn these words for the next time I meet another taxi driver.
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Montenegrin Princess on

There is no such thing as an Orthodox Catholic... you're either Orthodox or Catholic...

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