The reconstruction of the road from Podgorica to Božaj (Albanian border) was recently finished, which shortened travel time to Shkodra. Indeed, the Albanian section is still problematic, as road works continue, but nowadays you won’t need more than an hour or so to reach Shkodra from Podgorica (62 km).
Of course, most Montenegrin people will not be interested in a day trip to Shkodra (they prefer the sea or the mountains), but for foreign tourists staying in Montenegro this is certainly an exciting tour.
Coming from Montenegro, you will first pass the valley of Koplik. Now and then you can still see remnants of concrete bunkers along the road. The former dictator Enver Hodža has built them as defense against potential attacks (there were 750,000 of them in Albania when he died!). The road is pretty good at some sections, but without any warning or traffic sign you can suddenly encounter holes, cracks, gravel and … a lot of dust. You will see modern big cars, but also means of transportation that do not even deserve such name. Cows, bikes, tractors, pedestrians …They all use the new highway. You will see magnificent palaces, but also old neglected cots.
And of course, you will see garbage and plastic bags everywhere around. But the town of Shkodra is really worth a visit. Today it has around 100,000 inhabitants (150,000 including the surroundings). Street trade is well-developed. On the streets in the center you can buy all kinds of stuff: tobacco, chickens, spare parts, wedding dresses, shoes, curtains, screws … The side-walks are broad and a walking tour through this picturesque part of the town is really enjoyable. The old part of the town has a typical eastern structure with narrow streets and high walls around the houses. The Old town (“Stara Varoš”) of Podgorica has certainly been similar before World War II! Many modern buildings have been built in the meantime – besides those old ones from the communist period, in which people are still living, although they are quite dilapidated.
The most beautiful part of the town is, no doubt, the pedestrian street „Sheshi“ or „Pjaca“, which has been preserved in the old style. It contains many bars and restaurants with terraces, flowers and fancy shops. That is how the Hercegovačka street in Podgorica should look like!! In a pizzeria with a shady garden you can eat a pizza with beer for less than 5 Euro. Other sightseeing might include: the mosque, the central square with a socrealistic sculpture of four heroes, the cathedral, the monument of Mother Teresa …. The Rozafa castle (see also The Rozafa Castle in Shkodra, Albania) that dominates the town is not only interesting because of the well-known Serbian poem: “The Building of Shkodra on the Bojana River”, but first of all because of the magnificent panoramas you have from the top of the hill. More details about the castle in my next blog!
P.S. In the meantime (2013), the reconstruction of the road Podgorica-Shkodra has been finished, which makes this trip very easy and comfortable.