New Favorite Mountain Fortress

03 May, 2018: On my third day in Bar, Montenegro, I took a local bus to Stari Bar, which is the old town in the mountains about a half hour from the port town of [new] Bar. It has a large and well-preserved ruined fortress:

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It was a lovely day for a trip to the mountains — mostly sunny, but not too hot, with some decorative clouds here and there. It rained a little, but parts of the fortress still have intact roofs, so the drizzle gave me reason to explore those areas. I was not quite brave (/stupid) enough to explore this one, though, even though the door was open very invitingly:

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As you can kind of tell from the picture, there was an open metal gate, then a rough, pebbled path/rift in the rock, then a helpful though very rickety-looking wooden ladder leading down into a pitch-black cellar of sorts. If I had brought my flashlight and para-cord, I probably would have tried it, but I didn’t have my hiking bag with me so I just peeked in from the top.

Caves and cellars are enticing, but as always, I preferred the highest points with the best views. I think this was a cannon platform, although there were no interpretive signs:

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As is so refreshing outside the US, there weren’t really many safety precautions — a casual railing here and there, but also large gaps in the walls at some of the most dangerous spots with no railings, no warning signs, just an unspoken hint of “if you’re dumb enough to fall off a cliff trying to take a picture, good riddance to you”.

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I did not tempt fate taking this picture, don’t worry

The fortress itself was great, but I mostly found myself staring at the mountains and longing to just start walking, up and up and up into the hills.

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The views toward the lowlands and the sea weren’t bad either, though:

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I liked this part of wall that had detached itself dramatically (I kept imagining the sound it would have made):

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There are also some good local restaurants in Stari Bar. I had delicious lamb with vegetables, as well as a tres leches cake that was basically a sponge cake soaked in sweet cream, with caramel sauce on top. The waiter was eager to chat, and gave me tips on the area, as well as a sample of his family’s homemade olive oil, which was light and fresh and tasty.

The mountain road to get to/from Stari Bar is well-maintained, but narrow and winding — to the point where the full-size bus I was on made several K-turns at an alarming speed to get around the hairpin curves. If you’ve never been on a large bus on a narrow mountain road, I can recommend it, provided you don’t have high anxiety; it’s almost as fun as a roller coaster!

Mountain road aside, Stari Bar is worth a visit if you ever find yourself in that part of Montenegro. I’m looking forward to exploring a little more of the country soon, as I’ll be passing through again on my way from Albania to Croatia.

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