To Bar

2 to 3 August 2018

Shengjin, Albania to Bar, Montenegro, N42° 05.09’ E19° 05.02’, 32nm, 6 hours

With the far from delightful smell of Shëngjin in our nostrils we left Albania at sunrise. Our three weeks in the country had been a brilliant education. It is definitely not an easy sailing destination but held us in its thrall with its beauty and history. We got one final view of the mountains as the sun came up as we enjoyed Frrok’s watermelon for breakfast.

Soon we were flying a new country flag. The first Montengrin town we came to was Ulcinj with its walled old town at the water’s edge. We couldn’t stop there as it is not a port of entry so we sailed on passed to Bar and started to get our first taste of the spectacularly mountainous coastline.

Arriving in another new country outside the EU meant flying our Q flag and checking in with immigration and customs so we moored up at the customs dock. We didn’t need an agent to check in to Montenegro so in the heat of midday we set about visiting all the required authorities. First we found the harbourmaster who sent us to the bank to pay our fee. The bank sent us away telling us we needed to pay at the post office instead. The rather grumpy woman in the post office took our 90Euros and sent us back to the harbourmaster who gave us our vigneta (sailing permit) and sent us to the port police who gave us the necessary stamps and sent us to the customs office where two uniformed women looked bemused at our papers but eventually told us we were free to go. Hot and a bit bothered we returned to Pintail and were able to finally pop round the other side of the harbour wall into the marina. Suddenly an agent seemed good value for money!

We had two nights in Bar. Enough time to realise that Montenegro was going to be just a bit easier than Albania. It felt a lot more developed with just a hint of its communist past in its architecture. The new town was leafy and uncrowded.

Bar’s churches were either very old, very modern or very shiny domed!

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We thought about walking up to the Old Town. It is only 4km away and we needed some exercise. However, it is still about 35 degrees during the day and even leaving early in the morning it was too hot. So we jumped on the local bus and as it climbed up and up towards Stari Bar we did not regret our decision for one second!

The fortress town dating from the 11th century has been in turn Byzantine and Ottoman with churches becoming mosques like so many in Turkey and Greece. The ruins of the town were made more ruins by the earthquake of 1979 but it really is the setting surrounded by mountains that makes it so special. “It’s like a Montenegrin Macchu Picchu” Stefan said

A 17th century acqueduct brought water to the fortress across the deep gorge from a nearby spring.

Not much remained of Saint George’s cathedral built in the 12th century but enough of the old walls for a classic Stefan-walks-through-an-old-town-gate photo!

Underneath the fortress Stari Bar was an ordinary little town with a brilliant market where you could pick up a live chicken, a handmade hoe and figs anyway you prefer them.

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We felt rather sorry for the melon delivery man as he heaved his haul up the very steep road of the old town!

At 75Euros a night we needed to move on from Bar marina but not before we had got to know Anna and Michael from SV Red Rackham who we had met in Shëngjin and, having been deemed “keepers” by them, hatched a plan to travel onwards in the same direction through Montegnegro.

First, however, they needed to fix their generator…

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