Beaches packed with tiny stones and flocks of sweating people under red umbrellas, turning clockwise to catch a tan. Crystal clear turquoise blue waters, showing an abundance of tiny fish and snorkeling faces. When visiting Montenegro during high season, be prepared to sit among a lot of people packed on a small strip of land. – Imagine hairy red bellies, too tiny swimming trunks, naked saggy boobs and a bunch of kids peeing in the water – At least, when you’re the ‘I-prefer-to-be-cooked-alive-in-the-sun’ kind of type. According to the stream of pictures I’ve already posted on the blog, I’m more the ‘I-like-mountains-and-glacier-lakes-and-trees’ kid, variated with some ‘swimming-to-escape-the-scorching-heath’ days and a couple of ‘I’m-too-lazy-to-move-so-I-keep-laying-in-the-sun’ moments. In short, it means that I’m out exploring a lot in the mainland and prefer to leave the beaches behind when too crowded. Close to number one on my Escape-the-beaches-in-Montenegro-bucketlist, is the small town of Rijeka Crnojevića.
The lake of Skadar is one of the biggest lakes in Europe. Located mostly in Montenegro – 2/3 in Montenegro, 1/3 Albania – this lake is a hotspot for nature addicts and bird lovers. Covered in waterlilies as far as the eye can see, surrounded by mountains majestically towering over the huge water surface. Tiny boats zigzagging between the numerous plants, seeking for fish to eat or pictures to capture. The most beautiful views over the lake are taken from the tiny road into the mountains, aaaaaall the way to the river Crnojevića and the village bearing the same name. While Virpazar, the touristic counterpart, is a buzzy mix of too many parked cars, a variety of boats and a stream of people hopping on and off tourist buses, Rijeka Crnojevića is a hidden gem of peace and quiet. As former winter residence of the Montenegrin Royalty, the village still radiates a little bit of the long lost glory. Traces left of eminent houses along the old marble promenade. A donkey nibbling on some strands of grass. The beautiful stone bridge that spans across the river, once part of a popular trading route through the mountains.
I adore this little village. While a lot of other places are spoilt with too many people, it seems that Rijeka Crnojevića might stay hidden, at least for a while. It’s reached by narrow roads twisting into the mountains, leaving you filled with awe when turning another corner. Stunning landscapes and majestic views galore. When I raced – hahaha, like a snail – those tiny roads, many times I had to back up to let another car pass. Or stop for a snake, tortoise or lizard crossing the road. Once you reach the village, you will notice how quiet it is. How few people dot the streets. How I was almost sitting alone, eating the best carp I’ve ever tasted, for almost no money. How some houses are perfectly preserved and others are close to disrepair. Walking the lovely old stone bridge, enjoying the lush greenery surrounding the village. How a boat ride will take you on waterways between waterlilies and mountains. Or a kayak might take you in the same direction. How it is the perfect place to escape summer heat and crowdy beaches.