Given the recent (and justified) criticism and furore surrounding Ryanair it was with some trepidation that I arrived at Stansted at 5.25am for the 6.50 am flight to Podgorica. That is not Podgo- ricka as I was prone to pronunce it and nor is it Podgo-reeacha as the pilot thought it was but rather Podgo-rizza as my friendly Montenegrin taxi driver informed me.
Flying Ryannair is like a approaching a traffic roundabout in Italy. You are best to assume nothing and expect the worst.
If they’re ever inclined to do a sequel to “Attack of the Zombies” then Stansted Airport at 5.30am would be a good to place to look for extras. My Lordy....”gormless” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I am not the smartest man on earth, far from it, but if the instructions for the new self check in baggage service state “step 1 - place bag on scales “ ...then there’s a good hint right there that’s what you should do. Given the look on some peoples faces as they stood there motionless you’d think they had been asked to split an atom.
I love it too that they still ask the old and frail for their boarding passes when they purchase something at Boots but give the grumpy unshaven Aussie a wide swerve and request nothing when he makes a purchase.
The view from the plane into approach at Podgorica showed a slither of costal terrain that is pretty quickly met by towering mountains shorn of any trees or other flora. Grey Rocky Mountains that look devoid of character.
FACTS - Podgorica (population 200.000) is based on the banks of the Morača River and from 1946 to 1992 was known as Titograd when this part of the world was part of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It’s got a media tower built for 4 million Eur with a large restaurant overlooking the city but it neither works as a media centre nor is the restaurant open. The Ottomans once controlled the city, as did the Austrian- Hungarians. It was bombed heavily in WWII and following occupation by the Yugoslavs until the mid 1990’s and then when Montenegro gained its independence it then became the capital city. Despite being the seat of government the president actually resides in the former royal capital Cetinje. Go figure.
Observations - Communists didn’t go big on painting the exteriors of their public housing. Cement grey was a popular choice. Millenials might struggle in Podgorica taxis- they only have wind up windows. Thus far there has been no evidence of ostentatious wealth. In fact there’s been no display of wealth of any type. Betting shops adorn most city blocks. Montenegrins are ridiculously friendly and everyone I have come across speaks English better than you’d expect. Traffic is not an issue as not a lot of people seem to have cars. Basic commodities are dirt cheap. Can of coke, packet of Oreos, two bananas, packet of crisps and a 2 litre bottle of mineral water? Total 2.50 EUR. When pressed for things to do whilst I was here my airport taxi driver responded “leave the city.... that’s what anysensible local does on the weekend to either the coast , the mountains or the lake” ...mok
They work on a Sunday!
Soviet “Moskvitch” ..1,500cc of pure grunt