Day 30: Kotor, Montenegro

by - September 01, 2011

“a labyrinth of alleys and handkerchief-wide squares leads from beauty to beauty”

I visited Montenegro with my family last year but we were based in the town of Herceg Novi on the northern most point of the Adriatic Coast.  As a result we didn’t actually visit Budva or Ulcinj, but we did visit the town of Kotor which was so impressive that I decided to go back with Ellie.  We reached the town on one of the regular half hour buses from Budva, arriving at about 11am.  We immediately set out for the citadel which sits in the cliff above the town with views over the Bay of Kotor.  The fortress is 1300m above the town itself and is accessed by 1200 steps.  As a result it is an extremely hot and sweaty journey but one which has the reward of what must be one of the best views in all of Europe at the top.  The Bay of Kotor is often referred to as “Europe’s southern most fjord” but the UNESCO listed bay is actually a flooded river valley.  For the geographers amongst you.  Nonetheless the scene is a combination of a Scandinavian style fjord with a Mediterranean climate and a Venetian built town.  It had taken us about an hour to get up so we made the most of the views and the shade at the castle before doing it all in reverse to get back down again.

St Tryphons cathedral, Kotor
A trip to Kotor would be worth it for the view from the citadel alone, but on top of the fantastic views are the sights of the old town itself.  The walk down from the fortifications brought us out near St Tryphons cathedral, named after a saint who is revered by both the Orthadox and Catholic faiths. At another chuch, St Lukes, two altars were built so that it could be shared by both faiths with each faith taking it in turns to celebrate mass.  Along with the churches there is an array of tiny squares, some only large enough for a single cafe.  We stopped at one for a drink, only for me to remember that it was the exact place I had stopped last year, which was a strange coincidence considering that most residents of Kotor seem to have set up cafes.  After a bit of pizza from a stall we walked back out of the main entrance, the Venetian sea gate, and got a bus back to Budva.  We wanted one last swim and then to watch the Man United vs Arsenal game which, as supporters of both clubs respectively, we both had an interest in.  After watching united score 8, I can say I was definitely the happier of the two of us as we went out for dinner that evening.

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