Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise Day 10: Kotor, Montenegro

A good vacation is when you enjoy yourself. A great vacation is when your expectations are exceeded. An absolutely amazing vacation is when a new day is better than the last great day. That sums up how I feel after having spent a day in Kotor, Montenegro. For those of you not familiar with Montenegro, it is located along the Adriatic Sea, south of Croatia, north east Italy and due north of Greece. We arrived in Boka Bay, Kotor, which is Southern Europe’s longest and most dramatic fjord. Kotor has Medieval origins and is very well preserved. Narrow streets, stone houses, old churches and palaces from thr 12th century lend a certain charm to the area.

Montenegro has Serbian and Yugoslavian roots, but its origins date back to 168 BC, to Roman and Byzantine cultures. It was invaded by many peoples, including the Turks, Romans, Italians, French, and the British. The great Cattaro fortress, situated at the top of the mountain lining the city, was built in the 5th century by the Venetians.
As our ship pulled into Boka Bay, there was very heavy fog, which obscured our view initially. The ship sounded its horn continuously for a half hour or so to warn small ships of our presence. The sound of our horn echoed off of the surrounding mountains and had an ominous ring to it. When the fog finally lifted, we were treated to delightful views of Boka Bay, the water was like glass barely moving because we were moving so slowly. Kotor has a romantic feel to it, the city draws you in with lush green foliage, clay roof buildings and medieval structures. Steep mountainside cliffs provide a dramatic frame to the city from either side.

Once off the ship, our first mission was to hike up to the mountain top to see the Cattaro Fortress. I had no idea how high up it was, but it is VERY HIGH. The path was stone rocks, some in old steps, some loose rock and some parts just grassy dirt paths. Fortunately it was still early morning so it was cool and not in direct sun. My photos below won’t convey the height but it was quite high!
We stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant and sampled some traditional Montenegrin food (some photos are below). I found the local Montenegrin people to be quite friendly and friendly to Americans. The old city of Kotor it is a bustling area with boutique shops, a number of nice restaurants, cafes and bars. It has several nice squares perfect to sit with a beer or coffee and people watch.

Kotor attracts a large number of young Europeans, seeking nightlife and alternatives to other overbuilt and more expensive European cities. Kotor offers a great deal for the visitor- nice hotels, good food and plenty of nice architecture for the history buffs. The Maritime Museum is highly regarded for its collection.

I was enchanted by Kotor, and have put Montenegro on my list of favorite places in Europe for its charm and unspoiled beauty. Here are some of my photos from Kotor: We arrived to heavy Fog...

Then the fog lifted..

Beautiful Reflections of Kotor in the Bay

The climb up to Cattaro Fortress
above: the beginning of the long climb to the top. above right: check out who helped pay for the restoration of this fortress...the people of the USA! It made me proud.
above: John and me climbing up...huffing and puffing all the way

above: Finally we reached the top, here I am staning next to the flagpole. above right: looking all the way down from the top. Notice how small our cruise ship is. We climbed 1,500 feet up!
Views of Kotor:
(sorry I don't have the time to descibe all these..the internet bill is racking up quickly!)

A traditional Montenegrin Meal...

Thursday we arrive in Split, Croatia. Hope to see you here again!
-Signore Ricardo Rockhill


Anonymous said...

WOW....Awesome. I love the pics of the fog... you're right, it's sooooo romantic!

Mags said...

I'd never heard of this place before you told me about it. Very beautiful. I'm curious about the food, of course. What is that sauce? It can't be curry, can it? What's it on? It looks like breaded shrimp-but that doesn't make sense to me either! I'll have to google it.

karma lennon said... I'm feeling just a little bit jealous of you.... ;) The pics are amazing-I love that one of the green door. Just lovely. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

kenju said...

Wonderful photos, as usual.

Seamus said...

What a great cruise (wanderlust happening here!)

© Karelian Blonde said...

Thank you for sharing :)

Olivia said...

I'm impressed that this tiny principality was not overlooked on your cruise.

If anyone is interested, Montenegro was in the middle of actions in both world wars, if I remember correctly. Since then we wouldn't have heard of it much because it was absorbed by Yugoslavia, so when that republic broke up I was surprised to hear of it again, becuase until then I'd only read it in some old novel.


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