I’ll finish up our Montenegro adventures of last month quickly, since I now have to get on to the Egypt trip. We woke up early, had massages at a nearby spa, and started driving south back to Albania. On the way, we decided to stop at a resort town called Ulqin (“ul-CHIN”), or as the Montenegrans call it, Ulcinj. Ulqin was a majority-Albanian city during the days of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, but due to the insistance of the Montenegrans, and the general carelessness and cynicism of the European ambassadors who decided the new borders in London and Berlin, Ulqin ended up as Ulcinj – after the Montenegrans first invaded northern Albania and then insisted on reparations before they’d leave. (The whole story of how the borders were drawn is fascinating. Albania, as the least politically developed entity in the region, repeatedly got the short end of the stick, and in the eye.)
Today, Ulcinj is a favorite resort for Albanians, and the Albanian influence is obvious as soon as you enter town. We first noticed that the signs were in Albanian as well as Montenegran; we next noticed that the cars were parked in every direction along the streets and that people generally drove like idiots. Finally, when we walked down to the beach, there was a lot of litter. Sad to say, the town bore all the markings of Albania, except that it was spookily quiet, like a fairground after the circus has left town. We didn’t stay for lunch.