April 19, 2016: Exploring the Caves

Today is our second full day in Petrovac, Montenegro.  It was cloudy this morning.  I was up before eight and decided that since everyone was asleep that I would go out for a morning walk and explore town a little before we all got started on the day.

I walked to the north of town and climbed up above the last building on the promenade and found the Word War II memorial that is located up there which has commanding views of the village.  It is a really neat little spot.  While I was up there I saw that there was a trail leading up above the village to the north above the hotels in the back row of the village.

I decided to work my way through town and find the head of the trail.  I did, it was located by some of the hotels in the back of town at the back of their parking areas.  It was a city trail and was nicely paved.  So I took it.  It led moderately steeply up the rocks above town and afforded me some excellent views of the little village of Petrovac.

At the top the trail turned away and led north away from the village along the sea.  I met one woman who was up there walking the trail for exercise while I was going down it, but it felt very desolate.  I am guessing that in the high season that the trail is very popular.  The views are excellent and it is a great place to go for a morning constitutional.  Today it felt like I had fallen off of the face of the earth, but the trail was well maintained, had lights for night time and had trash receptacles along it so was not abandoned by any stretch.

At the end of the trail it came to a tunnel carved into the rock of the mountain side.  This was a tunnel made for a person, not a car or something of that nature.  There was an iron gate that goes over the tunnel entrance but that was opened.  The tunnel was incredibly dark but appeared to be there for people to walk into.  It was very, very strange; I have never encountered anything like this.  So, of course, I had to investigate.

The tunnel was so dark that I had to use the flashlight on my iPhone just to be able to see the ground to know if it was safe to step forward.  The tunnel was not long, but long enough that the other end was not visible and I had to go in on faith.  There were two very, very dim electric lights attached to the ceiling and they were lit, so this gave me quite a bit of confidence that someone felt that this was supposed to be open, accessed and leading somewhere and I knew that I could watch the electrical line attached to the ceiling to know that I was still somehow connected to where I had come from.

Along the length of the tunnel there was an opening on the left, but it was covered in rocks from a rock slide and there was no way out there, but a bit of sunlight filtered through.  A new cut of the tunnel went off to the right and following that I popped out on a tiny trail running along the side of the cliff with a precipitous view down onto a small, totally inaccessible beach far below.  Very cool.

Continuing on from the spot with the isolated beach below me the trail went right into another totally dark tunnel!  This is a little like entering the mines of Moria.  The rocks of the tunnel or cave system are roughly hewn like they were dug by hand and only to stop some rocks from falling are there cement braces from time to time.  These feel like very old tunnels.

This tunnel was not as long and led down for a ways before opening out to another trail and after just a short bit into a much bigger tunnel.  This is all very odd.  The trail through the tunnels was sloping down as I went.  I felt a bit as though I should have had a marchwiggle as a guide and worried that I might find and underground lake and an enchanted prince.  But no silver chairs were found and I was safe.  This tunnel had a little door on the side that you could walk out and see another view from above the water, but went nowhere.  Just two feet to a cliff edge.  Why did someone bother to build that?

Towards the end of this tunnel a hole was cut in the side of the mountain and it was clear that you had to exit here because going forward there was no light at all and even my iPhone could illuminate nothing at all and the way was filled with trash.  Up until now everything had been clear. This was trash as if it was meant to block the passage.  Very strange.

So I took the exit and popped out at sea level, or just a few feet above it, on a rocky point covered in huge, jagged rocks (maybe this is where they dumped the chips when they made these tunnels?) and walking out away from the tiny hole in the giant rock face that I had just emerged from I found a secluded beach where a massive new resort was being built!

It was clear now why the tunnel had needed to be filled in and the new exit cut in the side of the mountain – the old tunnel was now running into the wall of the resort that was being built right into the rock face here.  This is a resort so large that it must come close to being the size of every available room to rent from apartment spaces to hotel spaces in all of Petrovac combined.  This was mammoth.  The biggest hotel in Petrovac is three or four floors.  This one was fifteen!  And enormously wide and with every single floor have unfettered views of the sea and the front entrance emptying directly onto the beach.

This was rather an interesting find.  This location is so remote that it would appear that it is as of yet unknown.  There was only one person around and they were operating some heavy machinery.  There is a lot to do before this place will be ready to be used, but boy is it going to be something when that time comes.  This will change the village here rather a bit and hopefully they will do some improvements to the tunnel system.  With good markings and good lighting and some safety measures that tunnel system could be a really cool walking system for getting people from this secluded resort area over to the Petrovac promenade and all of its restaurants and shopping and entertainment and for Petrovac visitors to get over to the restaurants that I assume will be being built into this massive resort.  There is a lot of potential here.

I turned around and headed back to Petrovac through the tunnels and back up the cliff.  This was a most interesting and surprising morning walk if I do say so!  By the time that I got back to the apartment I had done four and a half kilometres.  A good start to the day.

Once back it was time to procure coffee.  We tried a new place down the way to the south today, maybe one “block” down the beach.  The girls took their beach toys with them and tried to hang out on the beach but did not manage to hang out for too long.  Dominica and I got coffee and discovered that this restaurant, like so many others, that there was no real food here.  We managed to get a little bit of cake and had that with our coffee.

Later on in the morning we went for a stroll up the board walk and found a restaurant called Oskar that had a huge menu and we were told was doing real food by some of the other restaurants on the strip as so many of them are still only open for coffee for another month yet, we are told!  What a weird culture here, the whole place only “exists” for a few months of the year and otherwise, nothing is open at all.  It’s like the whole place ceases to exist.

Lunch at Oskar was awesome.  Very big menu and excellent food.  Staff was great, too.  Like everywhere that we go here, we were the only people there other than the staff.  We all really enjoyed our meals.  If we were here for any length of time this is a place that we would definitely be frequenting often.

After lunch it was time to get in the car and deal with some necessary logistics.  On our way out of Bosnia we had lost three out of four headlights and we have to get that fixed right away.  We decided to hold off dealing with it in Croatia because that was going to just be way too much work, but it cannot wait any longer now.

We got a tip from the owner of our apartment that we could find a little auto shop on the side of the road near the next town to the south.  So we headed out and actually were able to find the place pretty easily.  I definitely caught the kid who was there washing a car by surprise when I pulled over and asked about getting the headlights fixed.  He was pretty shocked and said that he had to call his boss who came out in just a minute.

He took a look at the car and asked if we had a light bulb.  We said no and he took off on his motorcycle going who knows where for maybe ten or fifteen minutes at most.  Then he reappeared with a new bulb, replaced it and suddenly we went from one working light to four working lights!  That was rather surprising.  A very simple fix.  One light bulb died and the whole headlight system on the Ford Focus had gone out.  He charges us only five Euros in total for the bulb and the service!  Amazing.

Since that went so quickly and we had been anticipating that it was going to take a while we decided to go out for a little bit of a drive with our new found headlights!

We drove down the Montenegrin coast down as far as Bar which is a city that we were really interested in learning more about.  Bar is a larger city and not a resort town, it is really focused around the port there.  We did not stay in town but just did a loop of downtown and headed back up north.  We were not looking to spend much time but did want to get a feel for what the city was like because Dominica had found a lot of affordable property down there and this explained why.  It appears to be a nice city, but a small one and not a place for tourists, really.

On the way back north we stopped at Sutomore which, from driving by, looked very promising.  We made our way down to the beach, parked and walked around a bit.  What we figured out was that this town has some potential but has executed very poorly and will have a major struggle to turn itself into something really great.  Everything was closed, even though it was a much larger town than Petrovac.  There was far less to do even with the beach being much larger.

We got back in the car and went north again.  Before getting all of the way back we stopped at a small village just on the other side of a giant rock from Petrovac to the south.  It had a lot of potential and looked really interesting.  Currently there is really little more there than a pizza place, another few restaurants and a whole lot of RV parking and camping with no one using any of it.  Very strange.

It was getting dark when we got back to Petrovac.