Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wanderlust Summer 2015 (Montenegro - Part 1)

I was blessed with another opportunity to go on an international mission trip / vacation for a few weeks this summer.  And it was certainly an adventure every step of the way!! And because it's me, you know this will be picture overload!

Last year I went to Romania with a group called Adventures in Missions (AIM) and I loved it so much I signed up for another trip as soon as I made it back to the states.  I landed on Ireland for the next mission trip and even convinced my friend Hannah to travel with me!  We decided to make it a little adventure and stay in London for a few days once the Mission portion of the trip ended.  We made all the arrangements with flights and hotels to Ireland and London, when, about a month and half before we were set to go God intervened and decided Ireland was not where we should be sent.  And a few days letter I got word that we were being sent to Montenegro!!  Montenegro was formed not to long ago, after the Yugoslav war that separated into 5 little countries.  It is across the Adriatic Sea from Italy and right above Albania.

So after wrapping my head around the fact that the location had changed once again I was geared up and ready to go!  Getting there was going to be a little bit of a trek as the entire team had already made travel arrangements to Ireland.  AIM still had us meet up there and then we would be able to travel the rest of the way to Montenegro together.

Hannah and I got to Ireland the day before we were supposed to meet up with the rest of the team and were excited to see what Dublin had to offer!  But unfortunately, London Airport decided they needed my luggage more than I did and didn't put it on the plane with me. After throwing a little fit at the thought of not having my luggage during the trip, Hannah loaned me some clothes and we ventured into downtown Dublin to a pub one of the attorneys I work for suggested we go to, The Brazen Head, it is the oldest pub in Dublin.  It was jammed packed and had live music, but we were too late for food so we didn't stay long.

The next morning, I had my lovely Mother on the phone with American Airlines trying to locate my still missing bag (that I was told was still in Dallas even though it was in London), while Hannah and I got ready to head back to the airport to meet the rest of our team. As we were printing off our tickets and getting ready to go through security my Mom text me to tell me my bag was on a plane heading to Dublin!  As luck would have it(my luck, not their luck), two girls from my team were held up at the London customs and when they were released (that's another story of it's own) they were on the same flight! So since we were waiting on them, I got to wait on my bag that fortunately made it just in time!

Relieved that I had my stuff we made it on to the never ending saga of travel to Montenegro.  First we flew from Dublin to Germany where we ran, (I do mean ran, as in break out in a sweat run) through the airport, rushed through customs to run down the tarmac to our plane heading towards Austria.  Where when we landed there had to do the same thing to catch our next plane to Albania.  My passport makes it look like I'm quiet the world traveler even though it was mostly airport visits for 5 min :).  We landed in Albania at 1 am where we waited for a bus that picked us up at 1:30 am.  (PS all luggage was accounted for!)  We drove through the night and arrived in Sveti Stasije, Montenegro to watch the sun come up on the most beautiful oasis I have ever seen.  Pictures do no do this place justice!


Now the people of Montenegro, we were told, sleep in until around 10 everyday, so for most of us our apartment's were not ready when we got there.  Fortunately Alecs, our translator, was there and took us down to Premier (the only restaurant in Sveti Stasije) while we waited for things to get ready.  As tired as I was, I was happy to be in this beautiful place!   After a few hours, our apartment was ready and we all were excited to take a much needed nap!!  Katie, Ashley, Hannah and I shared an apartment.


After the much needed and appreciated nap,  we headed back to premier for dinner and to get the low-down for the next day.

The next morning, my apartment group woke up a little early to venture down the local bakery for breakfast and to have quiet time on the beach.  This is still one of my favorite parts of the trip.  Such a serene place to start off the day!

After the rest of the group woke up and we got together we headed into Kotor, where we spent a lot of our time. There is an old fortress that makes a city-like area called Old Town.  It has a lot of the history mixed in with the modernness of the shops and apartments.  Montenegro makes most of, if not all of it's income through tourist.  Which is fine during peak season, but I imagine it to be a lot like Alaska where it's dark, cold and depressing during the off seasons.  There are cruise ships that port in Kotor almost daily during the peak season and Old Town booms into life. 

The place below with the green shutters is a coffee shop were we set up home-base and handed out Bibles in the Serbian language.

Some people were receptive to our "poklon" (gift) while others were not.  But I think that is to be expected anytime you do this particular mission work.

Next up, the hike up the wall of the Fortress.......

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