Sunday, August 06, 2006

Trip "Abroad"

Although Montenegro is now independent, the visit to Ulcinj was the only time that I ever felt as if I were in a different country. I’ve spend every summer of every year of my life in Montenegro, but this was my first trip to the south end of the coast.

The stretch from Ulcinj to the confluence of the Bojana River and the Albanian border is an enormous beautiful sandy beach, which for most of its 15 or so kilometers is divided into lots where different owners have created almost identical forests of umbrellas surrounding beach bars and crisscrossed by wooden walkways to keep people safe from the burning sand. The beaches have names like Copacabana or Malibu and outside on giant parking lots are seas of cars with mostly Kosovan plates (I didn’t immediately get what KS means so I was surprised by the number of tourists from Kazachstan)

After some wandering and instructions from a friendly guard of the nudist colony we managed to find a “wild” piece of beach near the confluence of the river which is home to the occasional bather, kite surfers and a shabby bar with a Brazilian flag. I’m used to the typical Montenegrin stony beaches but I did enjoy walking in the sand and there is nothing more comfortable for lying all day in the sun. The sea is shallow for more than you can walk without getting bored and a bit murky from the sand lifted by huge waves. We spend a lovely lazy day, and I’ll definitely come again.

As the sun started to set we went into town. The old town in Ulcinj sits on cliff above the sea, but is nowhere near as impressive as Budva or Kotor. I expected hammams and mosques. It is well kept and clean but there is no impressive architecture. It also seems a bit deserted.

Downhill, however, on the promenade by the sea everything is teaming with life. You can barely walk through the crowded streets. It is noisy, sweaty and smells of all sorts of food.
As I’m a huge fan we get some dönner kebabs with the help of an interpreter. Unfortunately it’s not nearly as tasty as in Germany.
Everything is familiar, but somehow strange, more oriental. Everyone speaks a different language, people even look different. Whole families, all generations from grand parents to crying babies, out on their evening walk, snake tamers, naked children lying on the sidewalk, begging. Incredibly loud Albanian music blasts from terraces of clubs. Crowds wait outside - apparently some huge Albanian star has a concert. Funnily enough, most young man look as if they just came out of a Turkish gay club, in garish, supposedly trendy outfits. The only uniting factor of all nationalities in former Yugoslavia seems to be Ceca who found her place even hear, “thundering” away from a café. Another thing that surprised me was the number of internet cafés. Elsewhere on the cost they are small and few, but here there are so many with hundreds of computers, and they are all full.
Ulcinj was really a unique experience, a different setting, naturally and culturally. I’m really glad we made the trip.

1 comment:

Mërgimtari said...

Hey Marko,

Glad to hear you enjoyed Ulcinj; I really love it there, especially in the villages.

Your descriptions were spot-on.