A visit to Skadar Lake is not complete without a visit to Nenad and his older twin Predrag. Their father happens to own most of the land across from one of the most beautiful spots along south-east Europe’s lakes: the narrow horseshoe bend of Crnojevica river.
We had gone all out and booked a $40/night double from his neighbor at the Rooms Dujeva Drago because of the supposedly awesome view from his patio. But we discovered the view partially covered and Drago interested in making money off tourists, not so much in his guests having a good time.
So we go out on our own to find the perfect view we’d seen all over when googling “Skadar Lake.”
We drive along the road to past Rijeka for a while and don’t find it. Instead, on the way back to our abode, about three kilometers from Rijeka Crnojevica, we find a sign simply saying “Panorama.”
I am cautious thinking it is just a smart winemaker who has set up a bank is his vineyard. Nevertheless, we park the car in the little hamlet. A guy leaning on a garden fence hollers at us in surprisingly good English: “Can I help you?”
We explain what we were after: “We’re looking for the panorama.”
He nodds and points up a rocky path: “It is about 50m that way.”
Before we can turn to follow his pointing hand, he continues: “You have to buy something to go there. The land belongs to our father, and my brother had to spend €300 on workers and dynamite to make the view as it is now.”
I am usually very cautious about this kind of stuff. However, as Nenad –as the guy had introduced himself –continues to explain what he had on offer in his little kiosk — wine, rakija (the local, guaranteed anis-free version of raki), postcards, magnets,… — I feel like supporting his family venture. And after all, people from 106 nations, the last nationality in the form of a doctor from Ghana had been added to the list in August, had agreed to the deal and were very happy.
Nenad ahead of us, we climb along the narrow path. Rocky is not the kind of soil one could make an easy living off.
The last few meters he lets us go on our own. And when we get there I, who hates useless tant and doesn’t like the local alcohols, resolve to buy at least a bottle of rakija.
“My brother did all this. He had to use dynamite and get workers in.”
After we’ve taken our photos, taken photos of the twins — they look identical down to the hair that looks just a little bit too auburn… –, and have photos of us taken, Nenad takes us back to their patio. I am held up at the gate by the neighbors who are roasting kasoronj, a European water chestnut that only grows in Skadar Lake, and seem concerned with my sex life. The old lady, well into her eighties, pats my belly (no, I’m not pregnant, It just looks like it) while her husband translates: How could I travel here without sex? and Did I already have plans for dinner? I smile and politely withdraw to the terrasse.
On display on the coffee table are different bottle sizes (and shapes) with wine and rakija, the oldest 4 years old, the cheapest €4. A pin wall displays postcards, most of the images were taken by Nenad himself, with a small point and shoot, some were taken decades ago with an analog camera. Clearly, the older brother is the engineer, the younger is the artist in the family.
Along the ceiling, a long row of flags is the pride and joy of Nenad and Pedrag. 106 countries, collected in the past four years, the last handful, collected only this summer, is just names written on stickers because they haven’t had time to print the flags.
We turn down the “Wine? Rakija? Juice? Tea? Coffee?” but I happily dig into juicy black figs from the garden.
Before we leave, I have bought a small bottle of Rakija, Resi has spent €1 on a large postcard, we have to leave a note on a calendar like other guests have done before us.
Nenad whips out an A4 copy of a map from the area and shows Resi all the locations from the photos his postcards are based on:
When we wave good-bye, Nenad invites us back: “If you want, it’s no problem to come for the sunrise tomorrow morning. You’re welcome”
The best place to stay for an original Skadar Lake experience is Rijeka Crnojevica. Click here to browse Rijeka Crnojevica accommodation on Booking.com.
You’d be in good company: Montenegrin rulers spent many mild winters here. Njegos himself had an old wooden bridge across the river replaced with the current stone arches.
Once a proper city with a major fish processing plant barely more than a village remains. But there is a lovely promenade from where you can see the mist rise along the river and dusk. There are several restaurants serving local dishes, carp, eel, and ukelei fresh from the lake. And several hotels/holiday rentals invite you to rest your head in serenity.
There is also free Wi-Fi here (which is hard to find around the lake).
Along the waterfront, small and bigger boats are available for a lake cruise. You can explore the settlements (monasteries) and discover a flora and fauna with species that exist only here. We’ve seen prices as low as €7 per hour.