Hotel MB in Zabljak will serve yogurt with breakfast only if you ask for it. Ask, and ye shall receive… Eggs, dried meats, what looked like a fried doughnut, wonderfully fresh bread, and coffee.
It’s difficult to explain what possesses me to take an “exploratory” trip. Probably, the thought of being in on the ground floor before others though that was a ridiculous reason for touring the Balkans. Tour operators have shepherded tourists through these regions for ages. Another day was pretty much shot to hell as Sinisa tried to get everything in. Hiking around the Black Lake. Driving. Bridge across the Tara Gorge. Driving. Ending the day sightseeing a ” living” Sirogojno museum with an overnight there. Exhausting isn’t a strong enough word for how we’d feel by then.
The small town of Zabljak is located in northern Montenegro. During World War II, this town was burned to its foundations but is now the center of Montenegro’s winter sports. Zabljak is on the edge of Durmitor National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies among mountain peaks, alpine lakes, canyons and high pasturelands.
An easy 10-minute ride into Durmitor National Park. Vans parked and the group walked up a road through thick pine forests towards the Black Lake (Crno Jezero – means “Black Lake”). Crno Jezero is the most famous and biggest of the 18 glacial lakes scattered among the karst landscape. The lake feeds the river basins of both the Tara and the Komarnica Rivers. The park also has 27 peaks that exceed over 2,200 meters/7,200 feet, well marked hiking trails with informational maps, and blazed trees in all directions.
Black Lake directly in front of us, Steve and I were completely underwhelmed and couldn’t even manage a token, “how lovely.” The surrounding mountains and forests were “lovely” but I was glowering, thinking of the hours wasted here. Sinisa set off for a long walk around the lake with some of the group while we wandered off to do our own thing not knowing exactly how long the walk would take them. That left us unsure how far we could hike up a mountain.
A positive in Durmitor National Park was the excellent, well marked hiking trails. We continued up a road with red blazes on trees, and through a small hamlet to where the trail split with arrows pointing in different directions. Snow was still visible on the high peaks, the fresh air and exercise was enjoyable, and we could have spent all day following the blazes. All too soon, it was time to regretfully turn around and come down to wait for the “hiking around the lake” group who didn’t return for at least another hour.
Back in the van to Zabljak for stops at a supermarket and bakery to buy makings for lunch. Two apple strudels that turned out to be a cake with preserves in the middle (not very tasty), and it was on the road again towards the Bridge Over the Tara Gorge.