Vranjak Katun is a ecolodge spread out over the slope of a gentle rise high up on the Bjelasica mountain. Vanja, our guide, drove us up to where the ski lifts usually begin operation during the ski season (they were at this time non-operational), and we began our ascent higher up into the mountain there.
Unfortunately for us, it was a cold, rainy day, but we were determined to make it through and get to our destination. The hike up there wasn’t so nice for the first part, as there was some deforestation going for a new road that would make the area more accessible. The upside was that the hike was really easy as we walked mostly on paths that had been cleared for us, which wasn’t a bad thing considering the wet weather.
The pay off when we got to our location, however, was quite special. We were greeted by a few scattered wooden huts meant to sleep one or two lodgers, climbing up a low slope, watched over by two bigger structures which we assumed, rightly, were the kitchen and dining areas for the campers. The area was impossibly cute, and I wished the weather was better, so we could have stayed the night here.
We were greeted by a Montenegrin woman who owned the place – she was an interesting character, tall and wiry with a fierce beauty about her – just in time before the skies opened up and cold rain started to pour.
She sat us in one of the wooden huts and brought us some chai. The hut was filled with interesting kitchen supplies that were from another era. Many of them were not used, only there for display, but some of them were. Food here was still made the good, old, traditional way.
We lit a fire in a small wood stove in the cottage, drank our tea and ate some local pressed cheese and freshly baked bread. Apparently the bread had been baked for a hiking group that had now cancelled because of the weather. We weren’t disappointed that they’d cancelled. The cheese was absolutely fresh and delicious, and went very well with the bread. A lot of the time, I find the simplest food the best sort there is.
Kolašin is a quaint mountain town that feels pretty isolated – most of the places in the Montenegrin mountains feel like that, to be honest. The main street is called Siberia street, because of the cold wind that blows through all year round. The best maintained building in the entire town is the beautiful Hotel Brile, which is run by an Italian woman who who holds her hotel to the standards of any you would find in the Swiss alps.
In the centre of the town is the municipal building which looks like a nest of fledglings at feeding time. This was an intentional design decision by the architect. Danijel took some photographs of this building, which looked odd with its derelict state combined with its aspirations to be architecturally significant.
A local walked past him and remarked to his friend, quite loudly: “Look at this foreigner taking a photo of nothing”, to which Danijel replied: “Not all of us are foreigners”, which gave the man a right shock.
All I can say to this incident is that mundanity is a matter of perspective.
We made a trip out to the Dobrilovina Monastery while we were lodging in Kolašin. The Orthodox monastery was built sometime in the 15th century, after the local government managed to get approval for it from their Ottoman rulers. It was closed when we got there, which was a pity because it looked very quaint and lovely inside. Nevertheless, the surroundings were really lovely, and made for a nice, quiet place for contemplation.