Bar, 3 July 2019 (MIA) – If you had to name two things associated with Bar, these would surely be the Belgrade-Bar railway and the Port of Bar, Montenegro’s main sea port. However, Bar has so much more to offer.
Indeed, the first thing you see when you enter the city is the Port of Bar and the many ships and boats anchored in its marina.
But, the port is only a 100 meters away from Bar’s beaches, including the one in front of the summer palace of King Nikola and the Princess hotel, where MIA’s crew stayed during our visit to Montenegro, organized by FIJET Serbia.
Bar, a city on two shores
Bar is a city on two shores-the sea shore and the shore of Lake Skadar. Our host Emil Kukalj, the head of the Bar Tourism Organization, talked about the advantages of the city’s location.
“Although Bar is known as a port city, it is also connected to Serbia via the Belgrade-Bar railway. Recently, Bar has also become an attractive tourist destination, with a growing number of tourists visiting the city every year,” Kukalj said.
He added that besides the regular seashore vacations, Bar offers a variety of options for cultural tourism and active vacations.
“The walking and adrenalin tours, and the tour of Lake Skadar National Park, where visitors can take a lake cruise and sample some our finest wine and fish, are especially popular amongst tourists,” Kukalj added.
Before heading to Lake Skadar, we took a walk around Bar. First, we visited the 2,240-year-old olive tree, located in Mirovica. In the past, this was the place where enemies used to go to make amends and bury the hatchet.
“Four years ago, the tree was declared one of the oldest trees in the world,” Tanja Andrikj from the Cultural Center of Bar, told MIA.
People believe that circling the tree three times will bring them happiness, health and love.
Our visit of Bar continued with a walk through the Old Town, the most popular tourist attraction according to the locals. Most of the Old Town ruins date back to the periods of Venetian and Ottoman rule.
Famous Old Town sights include the aqueduct, St. Catherine’s church, the Turkish bath and the amphitheater, where a number of cultural events take place to this day.
“Walking through the Old Town feels like walking through history. In the myriad of small shops, you can feel the timeless spirit of the place,” our tourist guide Ivana Dabanovikj explained.
A cruise on Lake Skadar
We spent the second day of our trip in the village of Virpazar and took a cruise on Lake Skadar, during which we had the opportunity to try some of Montenegro’s traditional food and drinks.
The group met at the tourist office, which was crowded with flocks of the tourists from all around the world. There, we learned that the lake season lasts March through November, and that the lake lies on the border of Albania and Montenegro.
“There are numerous 13th and 14th century monasteries located on the islands on our side of the lake. Additionally, the lake harbors a diverse fauna, providing a habitat for pelicans, cormorants and herons.
“We offer bike rentals, as well as kayak and walking tours, making this place the perfect spot for an active vacation. Our most popular walking tour is 115 km long. It starts at Virpazar and continues through a path that offers a panoramic view of both shores of the lake,” Sara Jovichevikj from the Bar Tourism Organization, told MIA.
Our charming guides led us aboard the cruise boat, where we had the opportunity to snack on mekici (fried dough) with honey and cheese, and drink some Rakia. We saw the pelicans flying over the water, but the the most amazing sight on the lake was the island prison turned bird colony.
After the cruise, we headed to the Mashanovikj winery, where we sampled some of their award winning wines and feasted on the lunch specially prepared for us. We were so captivated by the exquisite taste of the food that we hardly noticed it was time to leave and get ready for our dinner at the Ribar tavern. This tavern overlooking the sea, is located on the old road to Ulcinj.
A surprise at Veliki Pijesak
On the third day of our visit, our colleague Gjorje Mihajlovikj had organized a surprise for us.
After a 20-minute walk towards the Veliki Pjesak beach we finally arrived at the restaurant of the XXL hotel owned by Slavko Petrovikj, who told us all about the area’s microclimate.
“In the 1970s, Belgian experts came to study the microclimate in the area between Ulcinj and Umag. They noticed that the Maestral wind blew in the area consistently throughout the day, before being replaced by the Gornjak wind, half an hour after sunset.
“The experts decided that this type of climate was beneficial for curing respiratory issues, and soon afterwards people from all around the world started to flock to Veliki Pijesak. They spend only two hours at the beach before feeling completely cured,” Petrovikj said.
They say time flies when you’re having fun. Over Rakia and a mix of pomegranate and elder juice, we talked about the sea food feast we were served, which was a real treat for all senses. After lunch, we reluctantly left the restaurant and headed to Ulcinj.
On our way there we got into a minor car accident, but even that could not dampen the great mood we were in and the effects of the Veliki Pijesak surprise.
Tr. by Monika Mihajlovska