Here we go again people. I’m on yet another holiday, this time trekking around Montenegro and Croatia with my ‘gap yah buddy’ from school. We started our journey at 5pm yesterday as we caught a bus from my home town to London. Then another bus to Stansted airport, which left us with about 8 hours to kill in departures so I set about watching all the art documentaries on BBC iPlayer. Did you know Picasso changed his style, his social circles and even his home when he started a new relationship? After an 8.50am plane ride to Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro) the adventure was finally afoot.
Travel Companion: More Fool Me by Stephen Fry
Podgorica is an interesting city. Despite being the nation’s capital and surrounded by stunning backdrops of snow topped mountains, the urban landscape jars like an ugly wound. On our rather privileged taxi ride into town we witnessed makeshift shanty huts, graffiti strewn towerblocks and a sort of human bleakness I have never come across before, outside of the smallscreen. I couldn’t go back and take photographs because it felt wrong. Even walking through the streets in search of food there was something dead about them.
This could be due to a historic lack of investment into the city. In World War I it was occupied by Austria-Hungary, in World War II it was bombed by the Allies. Under Tito as part of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia Podgorica (as Titograd) picked up the pace with heavy industrialisation, allowing it to become the social, economic and cultural centre of Montenegro. Yet with the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and the break up of the Republic the country hit an economic slump that has also severely impacted the capital.
Yet in spite of this I couldn’t help but be impressed by the city’s shabby charm. Our hostelier was one of the most helpful I’ve ever met on my travels and the people attempted to help us despite the language barrier. Whilst the buildings were scary in their abandonment, I never felt unsafe walking through the streets.