Njeguši Montenegro

Njeguši village, Montenegro – Smoked Ham & the Axe Man

High up in the mountains above Kotor, Montenegro, lies the village of Njeguši (neh-joo-see). The village is famous for it’s smoked ham called “Njeguški pršut”(like proscuitto) and local cheese called “Njeguški sir”. They’ve even laid out a “Ham Trail” if that’s your thing!
 

 Njeguši ham trail

Njeguši “Ham Trail”

The village is a stop for every tourist on mostly any tour around the country. I was no exception. I was excited that we were stopping here on our “Two National Parks Tour” and even happier that it was not a so-called organized tour, but myself and four others packed into a minivan and shuttled around half of the country by our driver (who didn’t speak any language other than Montenegrin, which made the day even more interesting!).
 

It was about a long and beautiful thirty minute ride of twists and turns up Mount Lovćen to even get to this place! My airbnb host had told me that his great-grandparents used to walk from the village all the way down to Kotor to the market to sell their local products and then back up again to go home. He said he didn’t know how it was humanly possible. And let me tell you – I don’t know how either! It would be a strenuous climb to say the least and I’m sure a walk down to Kotor and back would probably take no less than the entire day. I give those elderly people props – I wouldn’t even TRY to walk that! I reckon it would be quite dangerous at night or in bad weather.
 

To give you an idea of just how high up this village is, check out this amazing view of Kotor Bay from a lookout point we stopped at, about ¾ of the way up.
 

View of Kotor bay, Montenegro
 

Behind the lookout point, a woman was sitting in a small wooden stall selling things made in the village, such as pršut, sir, rakija and handmade woolen sweaters and socks, which I’m sure are desperately needed for the colder mountain temperatures.
 

 Njeguši village, Montenegro

 

Njeguši village

 

 Njeguši village, Rakija

Flavored Rakija, local firewater

 

On the ride up, I was anticipating visiting the village thinking how it would be cool to walk around a mountain town, inhaling some fresh mountain air and watching the locals live their daily lives.
 

But I was a little disappointed when our driver stopped and said “Njeguši village!” letting us know we were there. What village? Lots of construction was going happening on the main road through town. There were locals selling their wares and a few konobas (restaurants) and that was about it.
 

In retrospect, I learned based on the 2011 census, there were only 35 inhabitants and I’m sure there weren’t too many more than that today. So, that explains the sparseness.

 

 Njeguši village Montenegro

The main road of Njeguši

 

I stepped out of the car and inhaled a mixture of horse, pršut and mountain breeze. Wow! This is real deal village life.

 

 Njeguši village

 

I wandered down the main road wanting to get some more shots of the beautiful green landscapes when I saw a galerija on my right, with some really cool carved wooden furniture inside.

 

 Njeguši village Montenegro

 

I stepped in and noticed no one was in there. I was trying to size up the perfect shot and only took one photograph before I hear yelling behind me, getting louder and louder. I turned to find a short, rough looking old man, yelling at me in Montenegrin.

 

I had no idea what he was saying and was confused because I didn’t know what I was doing wrong! The town was so silent that the only thing that could be heard was this guy going off on me, making a huge spectacle! And what makes it worse was I’d say that half of the village’s thirty-five inhabitants were outside, watching it all go down. It was quite an embarrassing ordeal.

 

Montenegro, Njeguši village

Inside the galerija – all of that just for this measly shot!

 

I tried to tell him I was sorry and didn’t understand. It was then I glanced down and noticed in his right hand he was holding an axe! Now, I know better than to talk back to anyone holding an axe (even if he’s being douchey in Njeguši) or any kind of tool that could potentially be used to chop my head off.
 

 Njeguši village, Montenegro

Njeguši’s main “square”, if you will

 

All I could do was keep saying, “I’m sorry!” while walking away. But this guy was on a tangent yelling to the locals sitting in the café next door, while gesturing at me and waving his axe around in the air.
 

I was so tired from all of the transit and traveling that I’d been doing, that it took a few moments of me walking away from him for it to register that, “Oh shit! That guy had an axe!”

 

If I had to guess, I’d say that this was not his standard greeting towards foreigners! But who really knows? I was trying to figure out exactly what I was doing wrong and why the axe was involved. Did he see little old me as a threat or something?!
 

It’s possible that he wanted me to pay some money to take the photos, or not take photos at all,but I can’t be 100% sure.
 

But dude, an axe? Isn’t that just a little extreme??

 

I walked away from the village as fast as possible and caught up to some of my trip mates who were wandering down the long road out of the village. I told them I’d just been yelled at by a village man. “That was for you?!?” they asked. Apparently, he could be heard 700 meters away. (Great. I’m probably going to be the talk of the town today!)
 

There wasn’t too much to see around the area so I turned back. I had to pass the axe man and his galerija on the way and was apprehensive. I didn’t want him to start yelling at me again. This time when I passed though, I saw him bent over, chopping wood.
 

Ohhh! The axe was for cutting wood!(Doh!)
 

It wasn’t just for me after all. Still, I kept way out of his line of sight when I passed him.
 

 Njeguši village, Montenegro

Grapevines hanging above the konoba

 

I sat down at a konoba with my fellow trip mates. I figured I should at least try the pršut, even though I don’t usually eat that kind of stuff, or meat at all for that matter! But when in Njeguši… you know the deal.
 

I ordered the plate that came with the cheese as well (for a buffer in case I didn’t like the pršut) and in total it was 4 euro.
 

Njeguski village cheese and smoked ham

My plate of Njeguški pršut and Njeguški sir

 

There was too much fat on the pršut for me, but eating around that I found it was pretty good. The sir was made from sheep’s milk and that was very tasty. I could have just eaten that and been satisfied.
 

My trip mates were joking how the meat was quite chewy and had a strange texture. We pondered at the possibility that their “special meat” may not be ham at all, but past foreigners who met the fate of Mr. Douchey-in- Njeguši’s axe instead!
 

(Just kidding!) 😛

No Comments

Leave a Comment

twenty + 15 =