160524 Kotor Montenegro

Kotor is a port we knew nothing about. Now, it is definitely on the must-do-list to advise people to include in their Mediterranean Cruise itinerary.

Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro. It is located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. The city has a population of 13,510 and is the administrative center of Kotor Municipality.

The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. It is located on the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska), one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. Some have called it the southern-most fjord in Europe, but it is a ria, a submerged river canyon. Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovcen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kotor is a port we knew nothing about. Now, it is definitely on the must-do-list to advise people to include in their Mediterranean Cruise itinerary. I had heard of Montenegro and didn’t quite know where it was, or ‘what’ it was for that matter. Apparently, it is one of the states that broke away from the original Yugoslavia not that many years ago. There is no evidence of a vibrant export economy and so the tourist becomes their bread and butter.

We entered the harbour at around 4:00am – I saw the pilot make 6 attempts to board our vessel – to start the long but very scenic cruise into the fjord. Although, cloud prevented seeing the real beauty of the area, we agreed that we had ‘come the wrong day’ to experience that, but we were not to go home unrewarded; more about that later. Our ship finally became ready for ‘tender transfer’ around 7:30am and there was a 20 minute slow-boat ride up the fjord and into the medieval town of Kotor. Once off the wharf, we were confronted with cab drivers offering ‘the best scenic trip around the fjord’. Our first goal was to get to a café for the obligatory cappuccino or ‘glass of water’ for Lyn, while we ‘serviced’ our internet needs.

One of our fellow travellers has had their Cash Passport compromised (which means emptied out), how, we cannot work out yet, but this is the first occurrence we have experienced this since Cash Passport replaced travellers cheques years ago. So we needed to organise alternative arrangements for them to continue ‘spending tourist euros’ on their holiday. Again, ‘where are you without your travel agent? – On your own’. The count is up to 4 times for this trip and we still have more than a week to go. Thanks Sharon, back at the office, and Princess Cruises, for upgrading Lyn to Platinum status to give her 150 minutes of internet time, for helping with the issues that have come along the way.

Lindley, in his research, had found a ‘walk’ up the side of the mountain behind Kotor, was worth the 1350 steps to climb. So “let’s do it”. The streets of the old town part of Kotor are like many other streets in Europe, narrow alleyways of cobblestones without vehicles, but lots of tourists. We make our way to the starting point of the climb and pay 3 euro to punish our bodies by walking many cobblestones on the side of a steep hill and up the 1350 or so stairs (Lindley counted them, would you believe – must be a maths teacher’s son.) The walk follows the walls of a fortress. The fortress was closed around the 13th and 14th centuries. When you have reached the Castle of St John, you have made it to the top; around 260 metres up the side of the escarpment.

When you view the photos, you will realise that, yes, the walk was well worth it. I didn’t count the switchbacks (my dad wasn’t a maths teacher) but each provided a ‘landing point’ from which to take in a magnificent vista of the fjord. The town had European red tiled rooves to keep the view consistent, and the guy at the entrance point made good money without much work involved – not like us Trojans who made the effort with tired feet and calves to show for venture. Going up was easy for me but harder on Lyn but coming down was easier for Lyn with my knees getting to the ‘jelly’ stage half way down the difficult descent.

After a quick look around the old town, we made our way back to the tender pick up point for the 20-minute journey back to Royal Princess. The clouds above seemed to be loaded with rain ready to fall and then the lightening and thunder came along. Prior to boarding, we were drenched with a quick shower while sitting on top of the tender vessel.

After lunch and while finding a good spot to ‘say good bye’ to the lovely village of Kotor and the beauty of the fjord, all the clouds did what they should do and ran away. Now we had a great atmosphere for our departure; warmth, sunshine and blue skies. The scene rivalled that of Scandinavia in its own way. Locals lined the vantage points as we made our way through narrow portions of the fjord and the ship often sounded off its musical horn sequence to show the viewers how ‘powerful’ Royal Princess is. Being considered one of the large ships of the ocean, the Royal Princess certainly would be something to watch sailing past so close to the coastal hugging roadways.

Our legs were screaming from the hill climb and a spa was in order. Fortunately, most of the guests had already left the pool deck for dinner and we were able to secure a spot in a spa for 30 minutes and a quick pizza before the evening shows. Tonight was a comedian from Yorkshire. I had heard many of her jokes in other places but her singing was top class – similar to Cilla Black or Dusty Springfield.

Tomorrow is a sea day and then into Messina on the island of Sicily.

No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.

Author: @colinspain

The Official Blogger for Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise Group Tours

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