Iwoke up looking out our window from our hotel room, gazing at the glass-smooth stones that make up the streets of the Kotor castle. Cats and pigeons were watching the early workers cleaning the streets and disposing the trash.
The city has changed so much over time. Now, all the shops and restaurants serve the throngs of tourist who come here to see the glory of this living fort. People lived here in the tenth century as this is the old city. Living inside the protected medieval fortress walls, must have been a site to see. If only we could see; or better yet, travel back in time.
Yesterday we started our day visiting several old villages, but first we wanted to get photos from a scenic road that rises high above Kotor. We got some nice photos, but not of the fortress, for we could not see it. We drove for hours on tiny roads with switchbacks and hairpin turns. The view of the castle evaded us.
There were several villages we passed, but most were ruins. Others with lonely people for not much was around. We had driven to the very top, which was a fairly flat area with many homesteads; most with their shutters closed. We tried for some time to find points of interest that we had chosen, but the roads are not marked well and the maps did not help.
At one point this cop pulled us over and gave a whole speech until we said English, please; we are Americans. Before we could finish, he motioned us to go. This was the second time this has happened in Montenegro. On the way back out, the cop was in the same place. He had pulled over someone else and they were out of their car. This is how not speaking the language is an advantage. Probable cause is not a requirement to pull over a driver. These countries it’s at will.
We had enough of driving in half circles, so we started to go back to Kotor for some photos. I asked how much to enter the city. The ticket lady said it was free, now. Three years ago they charged. We thought, why not go in? We were glad we did. We had been here before but in a rush, three years ago with a tour. On this day, it was even more fun, as as we found several areas that we had not explored in our haste. Being on a tour when still employed had its advantages, too, but now we have more time to explore. Things are also very different now. Talking about different, as COVID has made the streets empty, but a perfect photography experience. At the same time, it is sad, as all the shops and restaurants are almost empty. They lack the income.
After having our iced coffee; our almost daily treat, we walk around taking photos. We had passed a hotel, and I said let’s check it out. We went in and ask for the price, and a discount which was given. The room looked so nice. A short glance into my Bunny’s eyes, we said we would take it.
Living inside the walls of the fort is so nice, because every hour, the church bells rings in the new time. The clicking of shoes on the stone walkways of the old city streets are distant sounds we hear from our window. We have always wanted to stay in a castle, so we could experience the laughter and soft conversations of fellow humans.
It was sad to leave, but the expedition must continue on. Life is so hard for an expeditionist, as time is ticking and new adventures await.
As I was packing up, the last thing I saw out of our hotel window was a pair of pigeons loving on each other. The male was cooing his wife and massaging her neck as he spoke sweet nothings into her ear. They stayed there for some time; even when we left with our luggage, they were still perched on their favorite sign holder.
Our expectations were high, as we set out for parts unknown. We had tried but failed to find the unknown on occasion. Many attempts are managed and routes rerouted, until we may or may not find the fruits of our desires. We said we were done looking for churches, but like an addiction, look for our next fix, we seek out the most interesting. More thought has been put into church designs than the boxy home or warehouse.
As we approach a church, the architecture and probability that the doors are unlocked races our hearts. Grabbing the door handle, or pushing on the door and failing to secure a glimpse, a photo or walk where many a person have searched for solace with a higher power moves us. We settle for architectural photo and views on high. I find myself by the church bells with the ropes in my hands. I want to pull and ring the bell. The village will hear, I don’t give in. Wishing it was at the hour so I could ring out the time, but even that excuse eludes me as I don’t know the time.
We drive for hours clinging to the edge of the road for safety. The coastal waters are just inches away on our drive. Road warriors demanding more than their share of the road, make us weary. The views lifts us above the road in a sense, calming us; for, who gets to do this. Driving during the summertime is a formidable task in the best of times. These are not the best of times. Health concerns keep people shuttered in their homes, not venturing out past the sanctity of their abode.
We are truly grateful we get to go where only the adventurous go, to search out new destinations. We relentlessly go up numerous roads to dead ends.
A medieval stone-lined street is our destination, in a town called Risan. We walk down the slippery stones past shells of buildings and some reworked, into modern living areas. We smell the homemade bread and stews wafting down the lane as we pass. I stop after walking most of the way to retrieve our car and make a video as I descend to a coffee shop for our iced coffee.
We set out for more pristine destinations. Perast, Stoliv, Prcanj, Herceg Novi and some other places I can not pronounce. Most are next to the sea. The roads are close to the water, as most all the land rises quickly. The mountains are like the maverick drivers, pushing for every inch of the countryside.
Out in the bay, we see Our Lady of the Rock Church. We see it from every angle, as we drive on both sides of the bay finding the little villages we seek. Three years ago, we took a boat to the island and explored every inch as it is very small. Wonderful memories everyone should see, if one can.
The day is ending and we grew tired. We looked for a hotel close to a castle in our final town visit. I never said we were done going to castles. The intrigue of getting a glimpse into the past, lures us. We secure our stay for two days to catch up in a few areas, and rest. We also need to give some thought to our next adventure in Serbia.
Anxious to get out of the hotel and on the road, before the scorching time of the July afternoon, our first plan was to travel to the top of the Lovcen Mountains in search of some vista views over the lovely town of Kotor.
While we found the road to take us up, we did not find the road that would take us up and over the actual Kotor Fortress. But, the views we did see were spectacular! The road is another Panoramic Road, and very narrow and curvy. Its a good road, but both of us are getting very weary of the drivers who drive in the center of the narrow road, and take the hairpin turns on our side; coming at us! It’s unnerving! We go ever so slow turning the corners, just in case.Our technique on the more visible roadway, is to stop on our side of the road; over as far as the edges will let us, as they pass. That way, if there is an accident, it would them hitting us, while we were stopped.
After our drive up, we had plans to visit an old village, which we never found after 1.5 hours. As I had mentioned before, the spelling of locations can be difficult, and while we thought we were heading for Risan, we ended up in Resna. Oh well, we saw some small villages that were very pretty, up on the top of the mountain, too. It all worked out, because we ended up not going very far from Kotor, after all. This would turn out to be a very good thing!
So, we decided to go back down into Kotor Old Town, and get a few pictures, before we headed to more towns and villages on the coast. We had not planned on returning to the Kotor Fortress, having been there three years ago, BUT we love this Fort. Its a Living Fortress, after all, and there are very few of them left in the world.
It all started with;
“Lets ask how much the tickets are to enter.” ANSWER: Free.
Next, we said:
“Lets go inside and get our iced coffee and sit for a bit.”
Which turned into a conversation of;
“There are so few people in the Fort, it might be fun to walk around again and check it out”
Finally, we were having so much fun, and seeing parts of the Fort we had not see before, we said;
“Lets look into spending one night inside the Fort in one of the hotels.”
We inquired and though it was double from our 30 euro budget, we splurged. Normally reservations for such a night would be booked far in advance, but not during a pandemic summer; plenty of rooms were available. In fact, all of them! When you get to spend the night inside a Fort it is a true bucket list item! We almost did the same thing in Jaisalmer, India, in their Living Fort, a few years ago, but as cool that Fort is, they have a bit of a water leaking issue and mould is a problem. We had to pass.
So here we are tonight, spending the night inside an ancient Fortress. Its quaint and cozy. We have breakfast included in the morning. Air Conditioning that works great. We also have the working Wifi we have had in a month! The building is really old, but it has been modernised for sure
The history of Kotor also notes natural catastrophes.
Several earthquakes have hit Kotor. Those earthquakes took place in: 1537, 1563, 1667, 1729, and 1979. Kotor also survives years when the world was surrounded by a contagious disease; theplague in: 1422, 1427, 1457, 1467, and 1572.
From 1797 to 1805 Kotor is a part of the Austrian empire. In 1806 year Russians come to Kotor. They governed the town only for a year, until 1807. The French soon menace Kotor. As the Russian army was defeated by the French, in the battle near Fridland, Russian with a secret contract give Kotor to France, which rules over Kotor from 1807 until 1813.
Montenegrin ruler Petar I Petrovic helped the people from Kotor in September of 1813. At that time, Montenegrins and people from Boka (the other name for people from Kotor) fought together against the French Monarchy. So at that time, there came a certain union of Boka and former Montenegro. However, that union lasted only for nine months, because Paris Peace Congress, which was held in 1814, didn’t acknowledge that union. So, after that conference (Boka with its surrounding) was given to Austria (1814 – 1918).
A one hundred year old reign of Austria over Kotor, was marked by numerous rebellions, and uprisings by the people from Boka Kotorska. The liberation of Austria Kotor finally happened in 1918.
As all other towns of former Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, Kotor, which was exhausted by numerous occupations, awaited the biggest war ever fought; WW II, in the year 1941.
Kotor experiences liberation from the Nazi control in November 1944.
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