As you hopefully know from previous posts, we had a fantastic experience in Luštica, Montenegro. If you don’t know about it, you can read our post on Luštica here. Situated between the Bay of Kotor and Adriatic Sea, Luštica is a peninsula known for its olive groves, cheese production, and spectacular beaches. It’s currently home to many small villages, but the south side is being developed into hideous resorts.
Ignoring those, we like to focus on the other 95% of the area, which is full of stunning beauty and wonderful people. And food. Wonderful, glorious food.
So, that’s how we ended up at the annual olive harvest in Luštica. (‘Masline’ means ‘olives’ in Serbian.) More precisely, the reason we ended up there is because our landlord was covering the event (he’s a journalist). More precisely than that, he’s a curious fellow who loves good food and drink, people, and life in general. Which is probably why he was covering the event.
Off we went, leaving our home in Herceg Novi to travel around and across the bay, and up into the hills of Luštica. When I tell people about the olive groves there, some say, “I’ve seen my share of olive groves.” No one has ever seen their share of olive groves. They’re olive groves! That’s the base operation for what becomes olive oil. Delicious, green, wonderfully fantastic olive oil. Can’t get enough of that.
Seriously though, I love the way the olive groves cover the large hills and small valleys of the peninsula’s interior. The fact that it feels like we’re a million miles away from our apartment on the other side of the bay – even though we’re only about 3km as the bird flies – makes this place special. Most of it is seemingly untouched by modern development and urbanization, which allows even the least sensitive person to become overly romantic about the place.
Anyhow, after driving up and down, and up and down, for a while, we ended up at the festival for the olive harvest.
It wasn’t particularly crowded, but plenty of local producers had shown up with olive oil for the tasting.
And food. Lots and lots of food.
And drink. Because that’s how life is in places where living actually matters.
We watched as people used generator-powered rakes to shake the olives from their trees…
…and children got to emulate them with rakes of their own.
Ang just stood around posing for Harvester’s Weekly. With rakija in hand, naturally.
TV crews were on hand to capture the event. I mention this because – if I ever get a copy of the film worked out – we were actually interviewed by two different news crews regarding our stay in Montenegro and how the heck we ended up at an olive festival in rural Luštica. These stories were broadcast on different stations in Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. If you’re lucky, you might get to see me flex some terrible Serbian. If you’re really lucky, they will have cut that part out. Who knew we’d end up on multiple news channels in three different countries, just because we showed up at an olive festival?
Here’s our landlord with his cameraman (aka an amazingly hilarious fellow), interviewing the head of the festival. I don’t know what you call the head of an olive harvest festival. Guy in Charge of the Olive Harvest Festival Guy?
After eating too much, drinking too early in the day, and having some great conversation, our landlord wanted to jump the rush and head over to a new olive oil production facility that was opening soon on another part of the peninsula.
The family that owns this small, artisanal facility have been here for generations. I was able to sneak a quick picture of the matriarch, who had to be like 430 years old.
She was a true gem, and her smile magnetic. If only I had been less bashful, you might have a proper picture of her.
While their property was stereotypically historic…
…the setup itself was full of all the modern equipment you’d find in this type of facility. Brand spankin’ new, it hadn’t even been completed and there was only one machine installed. Yet, it was fully functional.
Our landlord coaxed us into trying it straight from the drip. Because he can get away with things like that. Talk about getting it straight from the source.
As seems to be the custom, it was time for some rakija. I thought he just wanted a picture, but he disappeared behind me and all of a sudden, I was a deckhand on an aircraft carrier. Or at an airport. Or I was a helicopter pilot. He found it hilarious, I was confused, and Ang took a picture.
With a quick “Okay, we go,” he had us out the door and across the street. We passed these turkeys, who were no doubt giving us the stink-eye as they knew their eventual fate.
Behind a door, down some stairs, and we were in what appeared to be a hidden restaurant. What? It had also been redone, but kept the vast majority of its original fittings and character. I asked it if was open to the public. I mean…this place was hidden. Apparently, anyone can come here when it’s open for the season; although, I have to suspect that it’s completely word-of-mouth, because I have no clue how anyone who didn’t know it could – or would – actually find it.
More importantly…hello, prosciutto.
I didn’t take a picture of the family patriarch walking in step with Marshall Tito as he visited the peninsula back in the day, but the family was clearly proud of it and it was one of those photos that you could just stare at for hours, wondering what things were like back then and thinking about all the stories the people there could tell.
Alas, we don’t have a picture of the picture, but we do have a picture of the spread they laid out for us! (The food was obviously better than the picture.)
I’m not sure when or where or why, but we found ourselves sitting at a table with our landlord and a bunch of older gentlemen who clearly had a run of the place. As guests from the festival came in and waited, we were already seated and tearing that spread to pieces. We felt special to be doing so, but somewhat uncomfortable as a couple dozen people waited to eat while we were already in the mix. Firsties!
Yes indeed. It was another one of those unique experiences. An experience we never would have been so lucky to even ponder had it not been for our generous landlord and his family, who now feel like our family. We’re grateful to them and every person who welcomed us to Luštica on this day, and for all of the sights, sounds – and of course – the food.
Now it’s time for a random photo of a dog standing in an olive grove. Why? Because this dog was great. That’s why.
If you ever make it to Montenegro, I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else who’s going there: Do not miss out on Luštica. It’s entirely different from any other part of the country. The climate, the people, and the landscape are unique in their own right, and it’s worth a thousand memories.
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