One of my absolute favorite hiding spots in Montenegro is Lovćen National Park. While flocks of tourists start to crowd the beaches on a Sunday morning, I prefer to grab my car keys and drive all the way up into the mountains. Temperatures are not reaching their scorching hotness high up as they do on the Montenegrin coast and a cool breeze makes you feel relieved after days of sweaty shirts and sticky hands. Even though the roads aren’t always for the faint of heart – think about driving backwards while one wrong movement could lead you over the edge of a cliff, this only to let another car driving in the opposite direction pass by –, the panoramic views are simply breathtaking.
The big little presents Mother Nature gave to us aren’t always appreciated well enough in my opinion. How can a person not love those rough edged mountains, one rising higher than the other, bordering magnificent views on both Adriatic sea and Mediterranean fjord? Pearl on the crown of cragged peaks forming Lovćen is the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, the Montenegro’s beloved political and cultural leader. Resting on a canopy of golden mosaics, the mausoleum is reached after a steep climb of 461 steps. However not the building itself, but the 360° viewing point takes every breath away – seriously, I love that place to bits –. Not only Cetinje, the old capital, and Njeguši, birthplace of the buried Prince-Bishop, are visible from this mountaintop, almost half of this small country is seen. On brighter days, eagle-eyed people can even spot glimpses of Croatia and Albania. Doesn’t matter how far you can see, the landscape is dominated by harsh terrain, rocks and trees and greenery. Colourful bugs buzzing around your head, while you are absorbing this otherworldly beauty. Winds blow your hair into your mouth and giant butterflies paint a smile upon your face.
Visiting Lovćen means changeable weather. From rays of sun bringing colour over the earth to stormy thunderclouds scaring the hell out of you with their deafening rumbles. One moment bright and clear, the other rain pours down on you. I’ve seen the mountain several times now, covered with clouds and fog – guess I didn’t really see it then –, lit up with the brightest sun and getting darker by the second because of approaching clouds. It doesn’t lose any of its magic. When I was a kid, I adored stories about fairies and princesses, living in dark, magical forests and in castles upon the highest mountains. – I still adore those stories by the way – I think Lovćen definitely deserves a place in one of them.