Dec 252013

Taxi back to the airport in the morning took over an hour thanks to traffic, adding another 10 euro to the meter from the previously ridiculous fare that I had from the airport.  Can’t seem to win!  Check-in, security, and passport control were all a breeze – this is the first time I’ve been through Vienna since the remodel, and I was seriously impressed how efficiently things seemed to run.

The new Austrian Senator lounge was quite nice, with a good variety of munchies and drinks, but given the hour I behaved and stuck to water and munchies pre-flight.  Soon it was time for the walk to the gate, which turned out to be a bus gate.  Being a prop plane they fit everyone on one bus, and off we went.  Turned out the plane was completely full, except “business” class, which consisted of 2 rows of 2×2 seats, thus 4 possible to sell.    Felt kinda bad coach was completely full and I had the front eight seats to myself, but I guess there’s some consolation to having paid for business class on a short prop flight.

Austrian (operated by Tyrolean) flight 727
Vienna, Austria (VIE) to Podgorica, Montenegro (TGD)
Depart 12:50, Arrive 14:25, Flight Time 1:35
Dehavilland Dash 8-400, Registration OE-LGH, Manufactured 2002, Seat 1A

Takeoff was quick, and I was curious to see what the food would be.  Being a prop, I expected the same cold sandwich I saw economy getting, but nope…it was the full real deal.  Kudos to Austrian and Do and Co catering!  Nice little meat pie, some bubbly, and a tasty desert – not bad at all all things considered!


It’s no Dom, but I was beginning to actually enjoy the Austrian sparkling wine, and it worked well with the dessert…at least that’s what I was telling myself!


Amazing views over the mountains as we descended into Podgorica:




Very bumpy landing weaving in and out of the mountains, it almost reminded me of flying into Paro, Bhutan with all the twists and turns.  You can see in the picture below how the airport backs up to the mountains:


No jetways in Podgorica, so I got a good picture of the plane as we deplaned:


With that, it was welcome to country #145 visited:  Montenegro!  No problem at all negotiating a taxi to the Hotel Podgorica, and soon I was there.  I guess this is a good time to review the hotel.  First impression wasn’t great, the lobby was filled with people smoking, and the whole place stank of stale smoke.  Staff was pleasant enough with adequate English, and I was off to my room in the basement.  Nice enough room, but one small problem…no cooling and the sun hit directly in the room and it was a furnace.  Off to reception, and tried another room.  And another.  And another.  After four rooms, I was ready to give up but the staff (who were very patient, nice, and understanding through the drama) convinced me to stay with the first room, open the balcony, and give it time once the sun set.  I was off to the office anyways, so I decided I’d give it a go.

I mean, the room did have an amazing view out of the lanai:


Work was work,  very productive, and by the time I got back to my room it was indeed much cooler…maybe 22-23C in the room.  It would definitely work.  Based on recommendations from coworkers, I decided to go out to dinner at Sempre Restaurant – Italian was sounding good at this point in the trip, and it had good reviews online AND was a short walk from the hotel.  When I walked in…I was the only person in the restaurant.  First though:  good, there won’t be any smoking at least.  That lasted all of 5 minutes before the waiter and another staff member lit up behind the bar, lol.  Oh well.  Ordered a meat and cheese platter to start, along with a 1/2 bottle of Montenegro wine, and both were amazing…and shockingly inexpensive.


Had a small pasta dish and a complimentary dessert along with some limoncello, and I was seriously impressed.  All of this for less than 20 euros!

One thing I forgot to mention about the hotel…the shower was darn scary looking.  It looked like something out of a Sci Fi film, and I was afraid the minute I turned it on all sorts of tentacles were going to come out and attack me.  No need to worry, however…it didn’t work anyways.  Only the main shower spout worked, lol.


Up early the next morning to walk in the very crisp and cool air to the office.  A few views of the city on the walk:



Not too much more to say.  Unfortunately I was working during daylight, so didn’t get to play tourist too much.  From what I saw though, Montenegro seemed to be a cool place to spend some time, and everyone I met was super nice and helpful.  It will definitely be on my list of places I want to go back to for a much longer visit once I’ve been to every country.

As far as the Hotel Podgorica, I would definitely stay there again.  I get that the temperature thing was due to local preferences (I’m probably the only person in the world who would prefer my room COLD to warm), and the staff was super helpful in resolving it.  The smoke was really annoying, but based on the wandering I did I suspect that would be a problem in almost any hotel in Montenegro.  One other cool thing about the hotel, is it was clearly the choice of the local who’s who.  When I left for work in the morning, there were several Mercedes in the car park, along with a good throng of security goons.  Turns out the President was having coffee with someone in the hotel…can’t really beat that for cool factor!

After a good day of work it was time to rush off to the airport and head to country #146…Serbia!

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