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Yugoslavia (Montenegro) picture of Ethan Note from the BikeAbout team (September 1998):

Prior to BikeAbout's departure - back on September 25, 1997 - the team riders called the embassies or consulates of each and every country in the Mediterranean and confirmed, among other things, whether or not visas or other special permits were required for travel there, and all borders were open to foreign travelers. We were particularly concerned about our time in the Middle East (click here for the first in a series of reports about our border-crossing nightmares there) and in the Balkans.

Unfortunately, we received some misinformation about the borders with Montenegro, one of the parts of the remaining Yugoslavia. We were told that there was freedom of movement both between Albania and Montenegro and between Croatia and Montenegro. This turned out not to be the case. When we arrived in Albania, we learned the truth (see our dispatch of April 3, 1998 for more about this).

Political tension between Albanian and Serb Kosovars (the people of the Kosovo - known as Kosova in Albanian - region of Yugoslavia) had always been evident, but recent events had led to outright conflict between the huge Albanian ethnic majority and the state representatives. Thus, there was no movement allowed through the Albanian/Yugoslav border we wished to cross. We had to detour by boat to Bari, Italy.

Later, when we had reached Bari and were researching options for our return trip to the east coast of the Adriatic, we consulted the Yugoslav consul present in Bari. It took only one visit to learn that, although we were never told it was impossible, given our limited timeframe, we would not get the visas we discovered we would need for travel to Yugoslavia. Worse yet, even if we were miraculously successful, we discovered that the border with Croatia was closed and had not in fact been open for years. We would have to return to Bari again just to move forward to Croatia. (See more about this in our Bari dispatch from April 6-7, 1998 for more about this.)

We were obliged to bypass Yugoslavia completely.

Needless to say, we were disappointed. There were many reasons for wanting to visit the Montenegrin coast, not the least of which was to present a fully rounded vision of life in an area of diverse perspectives. We had to be content with one fewer than anticipated.

Well... now, months later, through people in Yugoslavia with whom the BikeAbout team was maintaining an email correspondence, we are lucky and grateful to have one look at life in Yugoslavia. Biljana Ackovski Petrovic, now living in Munich but once a resident of the city of Belgrade, capitol of Serbia, who recently returned during the summer months, gives us the first of a day-in-the-life series that we are hoping to build.

As she herself puts it: "As the BikeAbout team unfortunately didn't get a chance to visit Yugoslavia, we the locals, with their kind assistance, will try to fill out this part of their site."

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