Friday, April 30, 2010

Travelings and other musings

My last post was on April 6? Oopies...how time flies in the Balkans!

Well, we are still here in Podgorica! The weather has finally made a turn for the better, I believe. There was one week in there where it rained...and rained...and rained some more. I am told that is what the winter was like this past year. Lovely. A monsoon for 5 months straight. Can't wait. But summer is on its way now; it has been in the 70s this week, even approaching 80. However, we have a long way to go to reach the 40-45 degree Celsius point of mid-summer (which is 104-113 degrees Fahrenheit for us Americans). Again, can't wait!

Am I complaining too much? I don't mean to be! Life is moving along here for us albeit at a slower pace. We have met some wonderful people here which makes life more enjoyable. A few weeks ago I was able to tag along on my first official IWC trip. What is IWC, you ask. Well, that would stand for the International Womens Club...a ragtag group of international ladies who gather together for support and entertainment purposes. Maybe "ragtag" is not the right descriptive word here as one of the members along on the trip is the wife of the Croatian Ambassador. Which one of these is not like the others? That's right...me! But I still had a good time and they are all lovlies.

The trip was to Ostrog which is a Serbian Orthodox monastery built into the side of a cliff and the most famous site for pilgrimage in Montenegro (or even perhaps the region). It was founded in the 17th century by Saint Vasilije of Ostrog and his body is kept within the monastery. And I mean, really. His body is lying there and people come to kiss his hands. Just a wee bit creepy to me...I see dead people. But to each his own and the locals speak of this place with great reverence (unlike yours truly!); there is a great amount of myth surrounding this monastery as there are many stories of people being healed after praying near his body.


We met in the morning in the parking lot of Delta City and hopped on to a rented bus; there were about 14 of us total. It was about a 45 minute drive from Podgorica and allowed for some gorgeous views of the Bjelopavlići Valley.


Soon we were winding up the mountain side and reached our destination. This tour was extremely well planned as we were able to meet the high priest who spoke to us about the history of the monastery and shared some lovely snacks with us.


After meeting with the priest, we piled back onto the bus to reach the actual monastery. Part of the pilgrimage to Ostrog is to hike up the mountain to reach the monastery which would take about 45 minutes to an hour. We took the bus. Sigh. Once we reached the top, we were able to go into the monastery and see Saint Vasilije's body and kiss him if we wished. I passed on that opportunity. Sadly for you, my dear readers, we were not able to take pictures inside. Just picture if you will, a tiny cave-like room with a priest sitting next to a man who has been dead for 339 years.



All in all, it was a lovely day...beautiful weather and I had another fantastic opportunity to see more of Montenegro as well as meet some more international residents of this fine country.

Moving on to just this past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Skadar Lake which is located near the border of Albania and is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. It is surrounded by a vast natural park filled with various types of flora and fauna. A friend and I took a taxi from Podgorica; it took about 30 minutes and cost us about 17 euros. We were to meet up with a larger group but arrived before the others, so we took the time to wander around the small village of Virpazar. It was quite the picturesque little place!











We met up with the group for drinks at a small restaurant and then a wine tasting at a tourist information center. Afterward, we hiked up a small hill where there was an old castle and a great panoramic view.






You are able to take boat rides around the lake for about 40 euros; we tried to convince the others to take advantage of our large group since it would only cost about 5 euros per person but no go. I really would love to go back and take my boat ride. Well, when y'all come visit we can do this.........the boats will be waiting.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, its so amazing beautiful there.

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  2. I am, but my bank account isn't.
    This is my sad, broke face→:(

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  3. How long have they been on the Euro?

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  4. I think that it has been used here since 2002.

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