Traveling Monte Negro in a wheelchair

I travel quite a bit,  since I am writing a blog, I figured I should include my travels. As you know (or not) I’m a wheelchair user—a high paraplegic. Put simply, I need a lot of things in order to commute, travel, and in general, live. But I won’t bore you with specifics here. Even though I am in a wheelchair, it has not hindered me much. Maybe one day I will write a post on that issue, but this post is about the destinations.

I travel a lot not just here in Monte Negro but in general, in conjunction to me being a well-traveled person, I do a lot of sports and get to travel a lot on that aspect also, for now I will just write about local travel.

Gusinje

I was born in the north part of this country,  it’s a mountainous region, at an elevation of over 1000 meters, it’s a beautiful place full of live colors, cold springs, and never-melting mountain snow.

I must quote  Edith Durham:

“While walking in the mountain we came over this peak in the middle of August, all was white as far as the eye can see, I did not understand it, until I came upon this white mass, then I came to understand it was snow, for the first time in my life, I felt my head exploding from heat and my feet freezing from snow”.

I traveled to this same peak (Brada Vezirova) and took some pictures up there, You are probably asking yourself, “How did he get up there?” , well there is a road accessible by all-terrain vehicles, to climb up there , and it’s a climb well above 2000 meters. All sorts of wild animals and the most amazing plants I have ever seen share the wide landscape. One particular thing that is just amazing, is that blueberries grow abundantly and they are main ingredients to a cool, local drink of the shepherds (the job of my younger days): blueberries, snow, and fresh squeeze milk. Trust me, or come and try it. It’s the most amazing drink you’ve ever had .

Borovnice

The air is clear and cold. After an hour, you’ll start breathing with lungs full of crisp oxygen. I realized my brain was sharper and my thinking was clear. As an old sayings goes “higher the mountain, clearer the head.” I think that the constant noise of every day life in the city can only be fully comprehended and contrasted when you are in a high mountain: the only thing you hear is the chirp of the birds and the sound of the wind. Maybe I feel this way because I was born in these highlands, and Highlander blood flows through my veins (no, I am not related to Duncan MacLeod from Highlander series  Highlander series 🙂

Brada Vezirova
Brada Vezirova

As you can see in the picture I am well above the city. This mountain is called “Brada Vezirova”.

In the early spring there is a flower that blooms first called, locally Jaglič (Jagorčevina, primula officinalis):

Jaglič, Foto by: fitoterapiakalauz.hu
Jaglič, Foto by: fitoterapiakalauz.hu

While there is still snow in the ground, this flower blooms, this reminds me of my resilience to the outside world. It’s a reminder to every person with a disability that they must be resilient in order to survive the harsh environment that we live in. , let’s get to the story, Fortunately for me, my disability doesn’t slow down friendships. I have lots of friends and family in this town, and without whose help, I would not be able to do all this stuff. Mountain climbing is not an option for me, but I still can come and enjoy this wild beauty, helpful friends, and that blueberry drink!
Not too far from here is Grebaje.

Here is an insert from what I read recently and  totally agree with “All the Balkan mountains you can put on one side, but Prokletije on another – The more beautiful and the more dangerous mountain range you cannot find on the Balkan Peninsula”. You can drive all the way up to the mountain there is a restaurant called “Eko Katun” from where you can enjoy this wild beauty while having some traditional food, I recommend “kačamak”, the food and service is one of the best you can get in this region.

Eko katun Grebaje
Eko katun Grebaje

The Grebaje valley is surrounded by Karanfil (2490 meters elevation), Maja Can (1879 meters elevation), Volušica, Popadija and Trojan (no one knows where this name came from maybe the ancient Troy and the horse are up there) you can drive up to Popadija, that’s where you stop and enjoy the wild beauty,

Grebaje
Grebaje

(there is a place called Šuplja vrata- it translates roughly to Hollow door in reality there are two, the legend goes that in ancient times two giants had a fight and one used a bow to shoot an arrow at the other, he missed and the arrow went thru the mountain the other one responded in kind and he also missed but the holes in the mountain remain as a reminder of the bad shoots they both ware 🙂 )

suplja vrata

“Šuplja Vrata-Hollow door  Grebaje”  “Šuplja vrata-Hollow door  Trojan”

The next place I would recommend is waterfall Grlja that is located in Vusanje few kilometers from town, its accessible up to the actual waterfall but you cannot come next to it by wheelchair.

Photo by: Alipasini-izvori.com
Photo by: Alipasini-izvori.com

There is place there called Relax same owner has one in the town, not far from there is Alipasini Izvori (springs of AliPasa) you can get around there fairly good in a chair, there is a restaurant called “Krojet” with a beautiful view of the surrounding area that has some of the best food around and its lead by a great person whom I consider a sister her name is Hala  Gjonbalaj Please mention my name when there, I am sure you will not regret the trip…

krojet

Gusinje is not particularly accessible but there are few outside coffee shops Previously mentioned  “Relax” is one of them the owner is a great young man who always goes out of his way to accommodate me, or any one with special needs, in town there are few more places that are great in summer time, “Coloseum” is one of them: great service and accessible with a chair, for the older crowds “New York  Kafe” is a nice place, that can be accessed by a chair, the town is a live during summer months, I would not recommend going there in winter. It snows a lot and you can get stuck, I did.

Plav

Leaving Gusinje, I recommend stopping in Plav. There are a lot of nice places. I recommend “Paradiso”: great service and the owner and staff go out of the way to accommodate people with disabilities. There is a restaurant called “Damjanova Kula” that is fairly accessible with good food and a great view of the Lake. It’s a real retreat for those that have a busy schedule. Leaving this part of the north and driving towards the capital, one must be equally mesmerized by the beauty of “Canyon Morača” and, scared as hell.

Canyon Morača
Canyon Morača
Canyon Morača
Canyon Morača

Podgorica

200 kilometers east, when you reach Podgorica, the first thing you notice is the rise in temperature; it’s at least 15 C hotter here than in Gusinje. This place is known for many things, and one of the most important— wine. I recommend (pro corde means good for the heart in Latin) this is a medium class but its real good for those of us that like red vine, they have a line of vines from cheap to expensive one can take a tour of their underground cellar  accessibility is not that good but it’s a thing to see.

The center of the city is pretty accessible, with plenty of parking, after 5 pm the car traffic is restricted and one can explore the city center, Square of Republic is as it is written in the tourist road map for people with disabilities:

“People with disabilities are like other citizens frequent visitors of  the square, considering that the same is accessible for persons using a wheelchair”

There are many outside cafes. “Forma” for one, has excellent service. It’s a great place to have coffee with locals and enjoy the relaxing mood. On Njegoseva street there are many more coffee shops and bistros my favored is “Bajica Cafe” .” Enjoy this place and hang around until evening where you can shoot over under the stadium for drinks with friends at “Prague Café”.

While in Podgorica the most accessible place is “Delta City Mall” it has plenty of accessible parking, bathrooms and its plain best place for a wheelchair user. 

If you are hungry make sure you visit “Atrio Restaurant”  if you just want the best desert in the planet then you must try the “Volcano” at “Astoria Cafe”,The best waiters in Podgorica work here. If you want to feel like you’re in your own home, “Astoria” is a place you must visit. The staff knows after the first visit, what you’d like to eat and drink.

Also accessible is “Mall of Monte Negro” with plenty of parking, elevators a little hidden but you can find them. I recommend for a quiet drink “Ramada Inn” and for nice desert and coffee “Sicilia café”.

There are few hotels here that have accessible rooms, depending on the budget you are in, “Ramada Hotel” is accessible and is next to the Mall of Monte Negro.

Aurel Hotel” this is a 4-star hotel that offers accessible rooms and facilities. There are few more hotels that offer this, but to my opinion they are not what they claim.

Not far from the center there is a place for those of us that like American food called “GoodFellas” as the name suggests, not only is this a place for good fellas,  but it offers the best burgers and food that is common in the New York area, the service is great, accessibility is not the best, but the management goes out of the way to meet the needs of people with disabilities, they offer delivery service that is not surpassed in Podgorica, highly recommended by me.

A little further from the center there is a restaurant by the name of “Anovi” this is where I go when my friends are visiting,  I will quote some of them “after trying a variety of things we cannot decide what to eat next time we come here, and come we will”. The place is fully accessible from the street and garage.

If you like traditional food then “Podvolat” is the place,  if In Podgorica one must visit “Troja Restaurant” it’s a little way from Podgorica about 10 km but well worth the time and drive.

If you’re flying in to Podgorica then you should know that the airport is accessible, so if you fly in make sure you use the bathroom there cause you never know when you will find the next one. Near the airport there is another restaurant  called “Pečenjara” highly recommended, I used to go here with my cousin Dejan who is no longer with us, I miss you brother.

The only gas stations that are accessible to my knowledge are “Euro Petrol” there are 2 that I know of in Podgorica. I will be checking other places so I will revise this blog as I go, for now that’s all.

Nikšić

A place that I would recommend for visiting is The Monastery of Ostrog.

Ostrog Monastary
Ostrog Monastary

Its 43 kilometers from Podgorica, if you are driving, you can drive up to the Monastery you cannot get in if you are using a wheelchair, since there are many stairs, but you can come close to it and there are always people willing to help if help is needed.

Kotor

Many people will tell you that Monte Negro has the most beautiful beaches, some are accessible and some are not, I will recommend old city of Kotor,  it is fairly accessible there is one bathroom outside the old city in the “Gradska Kafana Dojmi” but it cannot be used cause they use it for storage and its always closed, I tried to make them change this to no avail. 

There are many cafes in the old town  and some great food, it’s a bit pricey but great nevertheless, I recommend “Bakery Stari Grad” that is located in Trg Od Oružja, you can get stuff from all over the world here and all in one place, try the croissant or apple pie, right across from the bakery there is a restaurant  called “As” that serves some of the best sea food in Monte Negro, in the old town you can have coffee or the same deserts as in Podgorica since there is a “Astoria Cafe” here also same owners.

If you find yourself in Kotor visit “Le Gout” this is outside of the old town but well worth the time and I highly recommend it , while in Kotor, you must visit the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon this imposing roman catholic church, was built in 1166, in the Tourist map for the disabled of Monte Negro they write about the accessibility and I agree “Before you can get in to the church, there are two steps, for this reason the church has a portable ramp, and one can explore the inside of this truly amazing historical artifact”.

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon

Tivat

Staying along the coast, visit the Port of Monte Negro in Tivat if comparisons can be  made, I compare it to Monte Carlo, it is very accessible in wheelchair and there are many cafes, one gets a feeling that you are not in Monte Negro, English language is as common as in a New York street, written in the tourist map for people with disabilities published by Paraplegic association of Podgorica:

“People with disabilities are frequent guests of the marina, in the walkway along the marina there are no physical barriers, that makes it possible for people with disabilities to enjoy this mega project”.

Budva

Next stop on the coast, I will write about Budva and truthfully, I think its over rated, the beaches are pretty much not accessible and rocky, I like sand personally. Becici is pretty accessible but there are many better places then this in nearby cities, if one likes sandy beaches then Copa Cabana Ulcinj is the place.  I like it, the place is clean and sand is beautiful. It’s just the perfect place to soak up some sun.  You can park next to the beach and there are wooden pathways that you can get close to the water but not into the water, some people like Mala Plaza in Ulcinj, I personally don’t, I think it’s too crowded and unclean, there are some nice restaurants and cafes and its ok for sightseeing, but that’s all, accessibility is null so if you are alone don’t go there.

Bar

On the way back to Podgorica you will drive through Bar, I recommend stopping at the “Barska Luka”. There is a parking near it and from there it’s pretty accessible, there is no bathrooms here that I know of, so plan accordingly, I like to sit in the café places near the water, there are many and you will enjoy the fresh breeze and sea smell.

Skadarsko jezero – Lake Skadar

On the way back from here you will pass next to Skadarsko jezero (Lake Skadar) it’s an beautiful lake, there is a cruise to explore the lake, it’s not really accessible but one can manage it, with the help of the crew or someone else.

Skadar Lake
Skadar Lake

Plavnica eko resort” is also a real nice place and must be seen, it has  good food and the place is just beautiful.

Plavnica Eko Resort
Plavnica Eko Resort

Montenegro is one of the smallest countries in Europe but its landscape is far and wide. From snow-capped peaks in my hometown of Gusinje to the sandy Adriatic beaches in Ulcinj, it is full of wild beauty. Accessibility for wheelchairs is available in many parts but is still limited in others. Use this post as a guide and I hope to met you on one of my travels.

This blog will be continued and new stuff added as I see fit, I wish you a pleasant read.

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