After Mostar, Leah and I headed south via bus to Dubrovnik, Croatia, which, when we arrived, was abundant with thunderstorms. We enjoyed the luxuries of a private room, and after a local dinner, a (somewhat) restful slumber, we awoke in the early hours of the morning and continued east to yet another country: Montenegro.
Views of the Architecture and city center of Kotor, Montenegro
Within Montenegro is the town of Kotor, which is surrounded by hills and limestone cliffs. Nestled in the Gulf of Kotor on the Adriatic Sea, it has been described as the “most southern fjord of Europe” and is actually quite a popular day-trip destination for cruise ships. Needless to say we got a little taste of home that day, as the streets were abundant with American tourists.
Montenegro struggled during the Yugloslav Wars but is quickly carving out its own identity in the twenty-first century (Montenegro just joined NATO this past month). Additionally, it is neither a member of the European Union nor is it a member of the Schengen Zone, which meant more border controls and stamps in my semi-blank passport. Although curiously enough, its currency is the euro.
The entire city of Kotor is only about four kilometers, and is protected by its medieval city walls. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Kotor’s old city was built between the 12th and 14th centuries, and its most popular tourist activity is to hike the fortress up to the chapel of Saint Ivan. The hike includes 1,350 stairs with an ascension of 1,200 meters.
We really lucked out with the weather. It was rainy in the morning when we arrived, so we took the opportunity to indulge in a hearty breakfast. By then, although it was cloudy, it didn’t rain again. The sun even peaked through in the early afternoon. In retrospective, the cooler temperatures were probably more ideal for a 2+ hour hike.
Logistically, I recommend good shoes, good hiking clothes, and a backpack to carry things in. Luckily, there are sales people along the trail selling water bottles, souvenirs, and beer. (I admit, I do wish Leah and I had had a cold beer to sip once we reached the top!) Finally, there is also a 3 euro entry fee (cash only) to access the trails.
I hope to get back and explore the beauty of Montenegro in more depth. The part of Europe is really something.