Kotor is in Montenegro, across from Italy. The most beautiful sail-in we’ve had this trip. Kotor is at the far end of a rather large bay that twists and turns between mountains. While it’s not a glacial creation and so not a true fjord it’s often called the most beautiful fjord in southern Europe.
We started at the opening to the bay about 6:00am and the sail-in took about an hour and a half before we tied up to the dock at the city. Along the way we passed close to a small church on an island that, interestingly, gave me a photo of the blue roof on a church I was supposed to get at the Greek islands we passed by due to the weather. This church is dedicated to the Madonna and Child. It all started with a vision that a fisherman had. Wanting to build a church at the site of the vision he rowed ashore, picked up a rock, and rowed out and dropped it at the site of the vision. Over time more fishermen were convinced of the vision and they all dropped rocks as they passed by the site of the vision.
After about 150 years or so the single rocks added up to an artificial island in the middle of the bay and the church you see in the photo was built on that island. Did not see the inside as we only passed by in the Pacific Princess but I’m certain it would be beautiful given the effort made to construct the church. Some fishermen still throw a rock on the island as they pass by.
Kotor sits at the base of a mountain and the excursion I picked took us up the mountain on an old, narrow, but paved road that was originally constructed a couple of centuries ago. We traveled up 35 “snakes” (what they call switchbacks) and were told that the bus would make the trip as most people don’t use the road any longer; it was just for tourists. Well, it worked. Quite a trip. At snake 25 we got out of the bus for a photo stop and you can see the result in the second photo. Looking down you see Kotor with the Pacific Princess docked by the main gate into the city.
We continued up the road and at the top was a small village (Njegusi) where we were treated to a cured ham and cheese sandwich and drink of our choice. The wine was good but a bit harsh in taste so I did not get any. Oh yes, almost forget to mention that after snake 25 we were into the snow line and much of the rest of the excursion gave me photos with snow that had fallen a couple of days before. As you might expect, given that, it was COLD. So far that’s the single major failure of my planning: temperature in Europe this time of year. Apparently it’s colder than I expected since this is not the first place I’ve had to bring out the single heavier jacket that I brought just in case.
Across the top of the mountain we drove into the old capital of Montenegro, Cetinje, and had tours of the various historical sites there including inside the old palace. Down the other side of the mountain we drove to an overlook of the resort town of Budva. I wondered about the length of the return trip given the amount of driving we were doing but as it turned out we came down the mountain, drove past Budva, entered a tunnel and came out almost at the center of Kotor.
So, the road with 35 snakes really was a tourist road; the much easier route would have been to take the tunnel.
When we got back to the port area we started a walking tour of Kotor itself. As with all the Medieval towns Kotor is surrounded by a wall with gates to get into the old town. We entered and visited the Maritime Museum and St. Tryphon Cathedral, two major landmarks of Kotor. We were then turned free to explore or return to the ship; a simple, short walk once you found your way out of the maze that makes up Kotor’s streets and plazas.
The tour we took was not the only one we could have taken. Above Kotor is a large fort. A stairway that parallels the old city wall makes its way up to the fort passing by a small chapel about half way up (see last photo). The stairway is over 800 steps. Fortunately, when we got back it was too late to make the climb. 🙂
Returned to the ship and took more photos as we sailed out through the bay as the sun was setting.
A very nice and interesting day.