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Date : 20th August, 2015
Time : 58’12”
Total distance run to date : 600 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/897740100
“When will we get there?” Parents all over the world will be familiar with the question. And parents all over England will know how hard it is to provide an answer. Because, of course, there could be roadworks ahead. ‘Roadworks’ in this case being a euphemism for a randomly coned off section of road on which no discernible work ever takes place. To be fair, someone has made the effort to cordon off 20 miles of road and erect forests of signs warning you about reduced speed limits and average speed checks. An initial burst of energy that seemingly exhausts all concerned to the extent that no further activity can take place for the next ten years.
Or there may have be an accident – or an ‘incident’ as they like to refer to it on the M25. Naively you imagine that, if you could just get past the incident, then the traffic might flow. But no. You are on the M25 at a time when it is being used as a giant parking lot rather than a road and you just need to accept that.
Or you may have been so foolish as to travel during rush hour – that 14 hour period between 6 am and 8 pm Monday to Friday. Which extends to Saturday and Sunday if you are anywhere near a tourist attraction or a major sporting event. Or travelling during a holiday period.
As we crossed over the border into Montenegro, true to form, the girls asked “When will we get there?” As usual we didn’t know the answer – this time because we didn’t know where we were going.
We were staying near Dubrovnik in southern Croatia and I’d noticed that the border with Montenegro was only about 20 km away. Never wanting to miss the chance to tick off another country, we’d hired a car and risked the notorious border crossing into Montenegro. Notorious for its queues, we’d actually got into Montenegro in about 20 minutes. And then spent the next 20 minutes driving past a queue- that had to be at least four hours long – of people trying to go the other way into Croatia. It was just like home.
We therefore reached the decision that we wouldn’t come back that way. Now we just needed to decide where we were going. Kotor had been highly recommended but we weren’t sure the girls would appreciate visiting another historic walled city after Dubrovnik. In one of those family compromises, we therefore decided to push on to Budva where, rumour had it, there was a sandy beach – a rarity on the Balkan coastline.
Budva is at the heart of the Montenegrin Riviera and apparently accounts for 45% of all tourist visits to Montenegro. Had we known that we might not have attempted the trip – the traffic and parking were painful. On the other hand, it’s a beautiful stretch of coastline with an island nicknamed Hawaii in the middle of the main bay. And there were sandy beaches – albeit a little gravelly and covered in bodies.
We eventually found a beach near the Old Town and the girls were happy. Hooray. And I had to face up the fact that, after four hours of driving and looking for a beach, it was time to go for a run. In the mid-afternoon heat. Not so hooray.
I didn’t know Budva and the route was mostly driven by my desire to stay in the shade and away from the traffic. A pedestrian only tunnel along the coastline linking two beaches? Perfect. But somehow I didn’t seem to be making much progress towards 10km goal. I’d lost the GPS signal in the tunnel. Aaargh!
The only signal friendly way back was over a hill along the side of the main coast road. A slog in the sun. Eyes blurring as the sweat worked its way behind my contact lens. Not much fun.
Eventually I got back to the centre of Budva and ran round in ever decreasing circles until I ground my way to 10km. Enough. Time to relax for a couple of hours with the family and try not to think about the journey back…