Those who think of Montenegrin water will surely think of the Mediterranean, but there is another place where boats set out in the mornings and fish jump for flies. Lake Skadar is a quieter, but no less majestic, second coast. In the more trafficked end, boats cut lines into the lilypads and algae.
The lake is actually shared between the two countries (it's called Shkodër on the other side), with a zig-zag border that cuts down the middle. Skadar is the largest lake in southern Europe, with a fluctuating surface area of about 170 square miles. It feels even bigger, maybe because of how exaggerated the mountain shoreline is, or because of how it's positioned: the lake is elongated from east to west, so the sun travels from one end to the other, appearing and disappearing over the water's edge.
We slept here, near the beach, in a bungalow that smelled of new pine lumber and bugspray. There was an open air restaurant, where the people in the campground could eat fried fish or greasy ćevapi.
In Murici, we watched a round, older woman wash clothes on the beach, boiling the cloth over a woodfire and then beating the wet clumps on the pebbles. Further along the pebbled shore, some children swam and a few tourists shared a bottle of wine. We swam in the evening and listened to the laughing conversation of a Czech rally-racing team. During our morning dip, we saw that a white-haired German couple had slept right out on the beach. It was uncrowded and calm there; we all kept our distance from one another, sharing the view and the quiet.
The whole Montenegrin coast of Skadar, and much of the Albanian side as well, has been protected as a national park. It's a paradise for birds - we watched herons fishing in the evening and pygmy cormorants sunning themselves in the morning light. Some of the last pelicans in Europe live here, though we didn't see any.
The speck out in the bay is the remaining heap of rocks from tiny Grmožur fortress.
Interestingly, it is more purely an amalgamation of mountains and water - what this country is famous for- than the famed resorts of Budva or Kotor. Here, one can slip into the otherworldly more easily. Swimming and staggering in the salty hotspots: abrasive. Wading and succumbing in the fresh water: soothing, silent, a dip into the distant and unknown.