We woke to the sound of pilgrims arriving for early services at the Ostrog Monastery and before us, a magnificent view across the valley. We slowly made our way down the hairpin bends and continued southwards along the side of the mountain. The road from the monastery to Danilovgrad was infinitely better than from Niksic to Ostrog Monastery and two cars could pass in most places, although it was still pretty windy with a sheer drop down the mountain.
There were lots of stalls along the way with vendors selling honey, nuts, wine, rakija and of course, Ostrog Monastery related trinkets. We had a few cows in the road, passed some tractors and lots of vineyards.
In Danilovgrad, there were roadworks and the road leading onto the highway was closed. We followed the diversion down a narrow lane until we reached a wooden bridge. There was a sign stating no over 3.5 ton. I was pretty sure we were supposed to be under 3.5 ton, but it was still nervewracking not knowing. I ploughed on ahead, over the rickety narrow bridge and just as it was almost over, I had to stop. There was a bar of scaffolding across the end of the bridge and Miles was too high to pass under it!! It was bad enough driving over the bridge forwards, now I had to do it in reverse! Not to mention that cars were now piling up behind me, wanting to cross. I got to the other side and now had to u-turn in the little lane – a 4 point turn later and we were on our way, the sweat from sheer terror pouring down my face!
With the road to the nice highway not accessible to us, we had to drive the old road all the way to Podgorica. Another potholed, one-lane road with a drop of about 20cm from the asphalt to the gravel on the sides. Pulling over for oncoming cars required coming to a complete standstill, while they flew past without so much as a nod.
Hitting Podgorica was like arriving in a different country! There was a brand new, proper two-lane highway going all the way to Cetinje – what heaven! I think it was the first time we had driven over 60km since arriving in Montenegro.
But it was not for long, as we had a stop to make at the famous “Horseshoe Bend”. The Horseshoe Bend must be the most photographed spot in all of Montenegro and with good reason, it is simply stunning! About halfway to Podgorica (42.382924, 19.103038), we took a left and followed another single laned track past old stone houses and ancient looking vines, until suddenly the Crnojevic River came into view, far below us.
The best place to view the Horseshoe Bend is at the Pavlova Strana Viewpoint (42.363235, 19.057054). It took us about 20minutes to reach from the main highway. There is a dilapidated hotel that was closed and a vendor selling the usual honey, nuts, wine, rakija and souvenirs. We bought a bottle of the most delicious peach rakija from him for 10 Euro.
The view of the river and the valley are just spectacular from up here. You can see little boats puttering along far below and the sunlight glittering on the water. The Crnojevic River leads into Lake Skadar, which you can see stretching far into the distance.
The whole area is part of the Lake Skadar National Park, home to more than 280 bird species, making it the largest bird reserve in Europe. It is also the last breeding ground of the endangered Dalmatian Pelican and Pygmy Cormorant. Little villages and monasteries are dotted around the lake, but we’re leaving that for another day.
Coming down the mountain after Cetinje, we got our first glimpse of the coast and the sea. The Adriatic Sea lay shimmering off the coast, beckoning us to get to it and to jump right in. From the top of the mountain, we could see the town of Budva on the right and the smaller towns of Rafailovići and Pržno to the left. The sun was out, it was boiling hot and we couldn’t wait to get onto a beach.
Our destination for the day was Ploce Beach, just 6km North of Budva. Ploce is a private beach that is run like a slick machine. There are easily 1000 loungers on the multi-level site, with stairs leading to the sea or if you prefer fresh water, there is a choice of 4 pools. There are a restaurant, a beach bar, and a takeaway kiosk. To the far left is the “pool party” with foam machine and thumping music. The free parking lot here was to be home for the next 2 nights!
The coastline of Montenegro has one beach after the next and you are simply spoilt for choice. Between Budva and Ploce beach are Jaz Beach and Trsteno Beach. Jaz is a long beach with inflatable wipeout courses, massive inflatable slides, in fact, every conceivable floatation device was here. There is a huge carpark and it’s easily accessible which means lots of people.
Trsteno Beach was much smaller and had a rough dirt track getting to it, so far less people. This was our favourite in the area.
Ploce is a private beach with restaurant, swimming pools and beach. We were allowed to camp overnight in the carpark if we ate at the restaurant. They close the gates at 9 pm so it is safe. There are toilets and showers.
GPS: 42.26985, 18.78302