Zabljak, Montenegro

p1230061.jpg

In 2010, while we were living through the long, cold and rainy Montenegrin winter, we decided to take a little trip into the mountains.  My husband Tony and I set out in our famous Primorac car with three other American water polo players who were training in the area.

Zabljak is a small city encompassed by the giant mountain of Durmitor-- but it also happens to be the highest, with an altitude of 1450 meters above sea level.  Zabljak is only a few hours drive from Kotor, but when it's snowy the road can be wet and dangerous.  I sat in the back, closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

We had booked accommodation at the Sun Village, which promised to be a three story wooden chalet-style house that sleeps 7 for 100 euro per night.  It lived up to its description and beyond-- the bottom floor was a full game room with a pool table, sauna, a gym, and bikes to borrow (most likely for the summer).  The second level was a cozy living room with a fireplace, a big dining room and a full kitchen.  The top level, reached by a little wooden staircase, were two bedrooms built right into the "attic".  So cute!

After we arrived, we all warmed up and put on every article of clothing we had brought along to prepare for the cold outside.  Only Sage and I were going skiing (he snowboarding) but we were all heading out to the mountain to enjoy the snow.  Luckily my Montenegrin friend had lent me her ski clothing, or else I would have never survived.

The slopes were only a few minutes away from our place by car, and after we parked, we were greeted by vendors renting skiis and gear.  We were wary at first, but turns out you can rent a great pair of skiis or snowboard, plus gloves and poles for about 5 euro.  We were also pleasantly surprised that the cost of an all- day ski pass was 15 euro.

The nice thing about Montenegro in the winter is that it's not crowded.  It felt like we had the slopes to ourselves and they were great!  I probably should have started on a more beginner run, but after a first and very scary plunge down a steep hill, I got back in my groove and kept going back for more.

Meanwhile, my husband Tony and the other guys who weren't skiing discovered the ideal apres-ski lodge right on the side of the mountain.  As we were skiing, they were indulging in giant bowls of piping pasulj (bean soup made with smoked meat) and mugs of hot rakija (the most delicious and strongest hot drink I have ever tasted-- I don't like regular rakija, but the hot version was unreal).

Sage and I eventually joined them at the restaurant to warm up and turned it up with some huge mugs of piva (beer).  We had earned it.

Later in the evening we went into town for dinner (where there are several really good, typical restaurants) and then headed back to our place to enjoy all it had to offer.

We warmed up in the sauna and then played an epic game of beer pong on our ping pong table (an unusual treat in Montenegro).

Zabljak turned out to be the perfect winter escape for a great price. Highly recommended.