The boat chugs out of Virpazar harbour along a reed-fringed channel backed by stands of willow. Dense thickets line each side, blocking any view. The water is dark, cloudy, murky. Lake Skadar, we’re told, is the largest lake in the Balkans, but as yet there is no actual lake to see.
Montenegro only has two train lines – to be fair, it’s a small and wildly mountainous country – which makes it all the more remarkable that one of them turns out to be a candidate for Europe’s most thrilling train ride.
The cruise ships are pretty much the first thing you notice about the tightly packed medieval town of Kotor. And they are both blessing and curse.
The Montenegrin Pompeii, some call it – crumbling houses facing streets that go nowhere; sketchy foundations that refuse to give up their mystery; wild flowers spreading through heaped stones; and empty windows framing isolated walls and distant views.
“You can’t possibly get lost” says the lady in the national park office.
“Did you know there are snakes in Montenegro?” says Elaine.
I am comforted by neither of these statements.