Our family rural travel getaway will change the way we travel in the future. We were looking for a way to escape the July heat of the city for a few days. I’ve never ventured to say that my family was the “outdoorsy” type. But, my family has always loved time spent outdoors and I’ve encouraged a love of nature in my children. I love for my children to feel the grass on their feet and to explore the world around them. Kids playing in the dirt is a good thing. That’s not always easy when you live in a concrete city setting. Based only off of photos, and an invitation from our friends to meet them at the village, we booked a last minute weekend getaway for our family at Samel’s Cottage, a farm stay in Prokletije National Park in Montenegro.
Our host, Ermina, greeted our family with a welcome that made us feel like nothing less than family. Photos did not do the scenery justice. Stepping out of our vehicle, all we could do was stop and stare at the gorgeous view of the mountains and the sky that was lit on fire right in front of our eyes. Ermina graciously helped us set up our sleeping area before we sat down to a homemade dinner. A variety of fresh vegetables, cheese, bread, and meat was a perfect ending to our day of travel. Just like our welcome, the mealtime made us feel just like a member of the family.
After dinner, this city girl’s dreams came true. I jokingly asked Ermina if I could assist as she was milking the cow that evening. She led me to the barn, handed me a bucket, and educated me on the fine art of milking. Crna (the cow) was a good sport to entertain my ignorance, and Ermina included me each subsequent time that it was milking time. I even received a hand’s on lesson on how to make homemade cheese and yogurt.
The children loved being able to roam freely in the grassy areas. There was plenty of room for cartwheels, playing tag, and snuggling up on a blanket for an afternoon nap. My three year old saw the song “Old McDonald” come to life this weekend as he herded cows, helped to milk the cow, and gathered eggs from the chickens. Ermina warmly accepted the help from her youngest farm hand, and even cooked up the egg that he gathered from the chickens. It was probably the tastiest egg that he has ever eaten.
When we weren’t at the farm, we spent time on a family hike to the nearby lake. Once again, the scenery and stillness of the mountain was good medicine for our family. The hike was enjoyable for both our family, and our family friends who have spent much more time hiking in mountains.
Both evenings were spent around a campfire, taking in a mountain sunset like we’d never seen before, and lying on blankets with our friends and our family to look up at a clear sky full of stars. Ermina even warmed up fresh milk for the children as a bedtime treat while we watched the stars. The children giggled, and the adults had time to connect in a way that Facebook and email could never compare to. The sleeping cabins were comfortable and warm, even on a chilly night. For a family with four children (two of which are babies), it was nice to have the feeling of camping while having a comfortable place for the smaller children to sleep. The older children loved that they could sleep in the tent just outside of our cabin. As we were heading to bed for the first evening, my husband commented to me that he was so happy that this would be a memory that our children would have of their childhood.
As we packed up to head home, we hugged our host, and promised a return as soon as possible. It’s a promise that we intend to live up to soon. She sent us on our way with an invitation to head to her family’s farm down the hill to pick raspberries for our drive home. Her son, Alin, escorted us to what appeared to be never-ending rows of organic, beautiful red raspberries and a patch of ripening strawberries. We were greeted by Ermina’s husband and set free to enjoy the garden. It was a special treat for the children to be able to see exactly where the food that they love comes from.
For a family getaway that we planned on a whim, the experience exceeded every expectation that we had. Though our family has always been more of a beach vacation type family, this taste of vacationing on the mountain was enough to lead us to investigate gear for future camping and hiking. The quiet time that allowed us to step away from the craziness of the city and just connect with our family and friends was enough to send us back for more adventure in the village.
Thank you so much to Ermina for your gracious hospitality, and to Meanderbug for planning an experience that allowed our family the time to reconnect and simply slow down for even just a weekend. We will be back!
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