Eric Conway, D.M.A.:
This morning, the Belarus/Montenegro choir was made whole again. The three students from Istanbul through Belgrade, Serbia arrived at our Best Western hotel prior to 9:00 a.m. Although this sounds like a familiar story, none of their bags arrived with them from Serbia, on a Serbian airlines flight to Podgorica. The three were happy to connect with the group again and share their adventures, take a shower, and enjoy a quality breakfast. All were hoping that the luggage again would be quickly identified and sent to the sight of our next venue, Mojkovac.
Many of you must be thinking, what happened to our concert schedule where we where to perform almost everyday on this tour, including today's runout concert to Mojkovac. Given that exactly half of the singing group was not here to sing due to our Austrian Air flight cancellation, the Embassy postponed our concert on Monday in Zabljak to Thursday. Thursday was the one planned free day that we had this week, prior to Friday, our final day in Montenegro with the performance at the US Montenegro Ambassador's residence. This moved our free day to yesterday, which allowed us to go to the beach and allow time for everyone in the group to get to Montenegro. Unfortunately, this meant that during the remaining days of the tour we would stay at a different hotel every night this week until we left Montenegro. That fact was OK, if we all had our luggage.
We left the hotel at 11 a.m. to drive to Mojkovac. We had a very beautiful drive up a mountain to get to Mojkovac. Along the way we stopped at stand to take a photo and purchase fresh figs as well as a dried-figs (see photos attached). We also made a stop at a Montenegrin monastery. After the stops we drove directly to our hotel, which was about 40 minutes before Mojkovac. The hotel, Bianca Resort and Spa, was an elite ski-resort in the town of Kolasin, Montenegro, see http://www.biancaresort.com/bianca/ . This was certainly the nicest hotel that we would have on the trip, and perhaps one of the nicest that many will ever stay in. The hotel had amenities like 24 hour room service, a award-winning spa, heated towel racks, a 2nd nozzle below the shower to wash one's feet directly, slippers, towels, cedar closets, and of course the almighty bidet! Most of the choir members spent the afternoon at the Olympic-sized (25 meters) pool. Many of you know that I am an avid swimmer, but I have never swam in an Olympic-sized pool. What an experience! I swam a half mile - 16 laps before we left for our concert.
We left at 6PM for our 7:30 PM concert in Mojkovac. We were on pins and needles as several choir members did not have their suitcases and materials for the concert. Once again due to a stellar effort from the local Embassy, and prayers from you back home, a truck went to the airport to personally drive the luggage that was separated from the owners to Mojkovac. The drivers arrived minutes before we began to sing. Absolutely everyone in the group had their luggage! Thank God for small miracles!
As stated earlier, many of our concerts in Montenegro were in underserved communities. Mojkovac was one such community, although you would never know this by speaking with them. Our concert was the first concert ever sponsored by the Embassy in this community. The top Cultural Affairs Embassy representative, Sunshine, was there to offer greetings from the Embassy. We had another successful concert. After the concert, one of the local businessmen in the audience, wanted to take us out to his restaurant to buy drinks for the group. As tired as we were after all the travel, with the encouragement of the Sunshine, we did not want to offend to local person who offered this nicety to us, so we accepted the invitation.
After the concert and reception afterwards, we had a 45 minute drive back to our resort hotel. Typically in hotels, breakfasts are included, however, atypically a buffet meal was included in the price of the room. The dining room typically closed at 10 AM, but Sunshine called ahead and asked if the restaurant could stay open for the group. They agreed, and we had an exquisite meal.
The few who got a chance to take a nap this afternoon, said that the bed was one of the best mattresses that they had ever slept on, although I believed it was more just being tired than an exceptional mattress, but I will find out this evening.
The choir was in an extraordinary resort & hotel. In a way we earned this wonderful accommodation. I fully believe that everyone will be refreshed and ready go to Bar, Montenegro for our next concert tomorrow on the Montenegrin coast.