Ostrog and Lake Skadar
Ostrog is without doubt the most important monastery of the Balkans and many say the third most important site of pilgrimage in Orthodoxy.
The patron of the monastery is St Basil of Ostrog the wonderworker and it is said on several sites not just the Orthodox faithful that come for pilgrimage but Roman Catholics and Muslims too.
The Monastery contains the relics of the St and pilgrims come to pray and attest of the miracles they have experienced. It is traditional for pilgrims to walk from the lower monastery to the upper barefoot, which as a pilgrim I did. Before reaching the lower monastery I had received a lift part of my way from Bogetici to the lower monastery from a kind Bosnian family.
The monastery itself is set in a cliff and has a commanding view of the Bjelopavlici plain. Near the monastery is a beautiful small church which contains the hand of St Martyr Stanko a shepherd who was killed by the Ottomans because he would not reveal where the monks were hidden. The church is dedicated to the Saint. At one time the relics of St Basil were also removed from the monastery) to protect them from being burned as the Ottomans set fire to the monastery. A routine action by the so-called tolerant Ottomons (see St Sava in Serbia when I have added it).
To get to the monastery independently and on public transport it is best to go t Niksic and from there take a bus to Bogetici and ask to dropped off on the turning to Ostrog. It is a long walk and a taxi can be taken but walking has the advantage of being able to appreciate the views as you ascend the mountain road. If arriving, the mountain road is precarious in places but the locals point out that it is under the patronage of the Saint and there has not been a fatal crash to this day.
On the way back I walked most of the way to Bogetici but the thought of waiting for a bus on the highway when I don’t have the timetable for buses to Niksic to get another bus to Herceg Novi didn’t appeal to me. So Is topped at a restaurant and asked them if they call a taxi to Niksic and how much will it cost. Well it seemed like they were content on getting me a ‘gypsy’ cab. that is a regular person not a taxi driver driving me and said that the driver would take me for 20 Euros!
Well it is a short journey and just reinforced my impression that taxi drivers are the tax collectors of the Old Testament. I just said I will walk to Bogetici and get a bus.
The driver immediately said 10 Euros.. some common sense. I don’t see why it is necessary to try and rip off every foreigner or treat them as a fool.
I am not sure whether it was the correct price but it was in the region of what I was prepared to pay and much more reasonable. And so I took the taxi to Nkisc. From there I explored the beautiful church and area near the bus station before catching my bus back to Herceg.
The final place I visited Lake Skadar. Not wanting to take the mega tours filled with tourists (up to 50) from Igalo I decided I would try and go independently. After a very long journey and taking into my bus driver forget to let me off at my stop. However I did make a new friend, the kind Ivana. I visited Lake Skadar via a tour from Hotel Pelican (There are pelicans to see on the Lake and we did see them. Ignoring the exorbitant prices of touts I went for small guided tour. It wasn’t the best option available as it didn’t stop at any of the monasteries or anywhere of note for that matter. But the Lake is beautiful and it explored the northern regions near Albania, stopping to allow customers to swim.