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Bay of Kotor :12 May 2018 ( Day 11 of our tour)

Montenegro is a small European country, with its coastal side kissing the wondrous Adriatic sea and its land area surrounded by Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo and Serbia. It does not form a part of the Schengen area.  However, people holding a Schengen visa are free to visit this country.

Not an often included place in a tourist's bucket list,   we were lucky to have a taste of its Natural unmatched beauty, while sweeping through the waters of the Ionian and the Adriatic sea, as a part of our 8 Day Mediterranean Cruise.


Early hours, that morning, our Mighty ship slowly manoeuvred into the port of  "Bay of Kotor" while we stood in the balconies of our cabin rooms, in complete admiration. The ship was flanked by the high risen mountains & cool air blew at our faces whilst we experienced the stillness of the complete turquoise Adriatic Sea, carpeted around the base of our ship.

As the Ship made her turn into this beautiful bay, we spotted brick-red roofed houses & buildings, resting on the laps of the mountains on either sides.   Green groves clustered thickly around the mountain bases & peaks but were scanty on their way upward. The Vertical "cement grey" coloured, asymmetrical shaped mounds of solid rock, randomly peeked out of the slopes.  This sort of a regular pattern, gave the entire scene its unique look.  The water lay quite still, except for a few ripples, despite the heavy movements of the rudder beneath.


The docking process was absolutely smooth and delightful.  We were all fully geared up, waiting to scale the "City Wall". Destination - St. John FORTRESS - lying at a height of about 1330 rugged stone steps, in a zig-zag fashion, from the ground level. The topmost point is said to be around 226 metres above sea level.  

Ideal conditions encircled, making way for a great trek up the city wall. It was 7:30 am as we stepped out of the ship.  The Kotor town was asleep.  A Pathway from the  port lead to an open area. A bridge, on the left,  lying outside the port at a walkable distance, connects the new and the old town of Kotor.  In front of the port , to the right,  lies the newly renovated KAMPANA tower, that engulfs one corner of the old town, as you can see in the picture below.

The fortress lies above the old town.  We passed through deserted alleys. Quaint houses and shops built of stones were lined up in irregular fashion all along the way.  The gateway to the fortress lies at the foot of the mountain, on a lane right behind church, almost at the end of the old town.  We spotted it easily.

We began the climb upward, just as planned.  It was just about 8 am.  The climb took us about an hour.  The stairs were slightly steep in some turns, but not difficult to climb.  At each lap, the awesome views kept us gobsmacked. A little cat followed us on the upward journey for a while after which we were followed by a dog. The "puff & pant" march upward was all worth it. We reached the church lying midway through our climb- "The Church of our lady of remedy".  This is the church that can be seen in the pictures displaying the entire bay, as sighted from the top.  It has a short balcony type verandah, having a "stone bench fashioned" seating, just across its door.  That was the first view point, where we took a group picture.  A short break was a must here.  The views were getting better and better with the sun now slowly showering its golden streaks upon us.  

The climate was pleasant. We didn't sweat much at all.  At every turn we were welcomed by wild colourful flowers. The cracked stone stairs, rugged pathways &  pebbles finding its way under our feet,  made our task quite challenging. Finally, we made it to the top. There are different levels of the fortress itself.  The fortress, no doubt, is in total ruins & does need a lot of maintenance to re-polish it gloryNevertheless, we respected it for its uncanny looks.  A telescope is installed at one of the view points, to have a closer look at the surroundings, from the top. 


On the last lap towards the fort, a Montenegrin flag fluttered away amidst the ruins. People were experimenting on getting to different corners of the mountain land around the fortress. The further we climbed, the more spectacular were the views. Here, the land lay totally unfenced at some points and looked seemingly dangerous. We took a little risk by sauntering unsteadily atop one or two such mounds.  One of the rocky, uneven slope on which we were standing, displayed a tilted angle of our ship, which seemed to autofocus in our vision like a paper boat, from that distance. One slip and we could directly land in our cabin rooms without a doubt. We played it safe.  It was exhilarating.  This climb had indeed instilled a great sense of achievement in us.

We took as many pictures as possible before heading downward.  The return journey was easier, as it always is, during a climb down.  It took us less than half an hour to reach the ground level.


We headed back through the old town, which was, by now awake and happening. We could hear music in the open.  Shops were opened and I remember this one specifically which sold special, colourful lamps & chandeliers.  I was so tempted to buy one. It didn't suit my pocket though.  There was the OCEANSLAVA event in progress, near the port. People crowded around to witness &  participate. It is a fun swim, bike & run event. for the locals.  Restaurants were filled with people enjoying their mug of hot beverages with various breads.  We got hungry looking at this.


We were curious to see what the new town was like. After a few pictures in front of the KAMPANA TOWER,  we walked down the bridge to the new town.  Oh ! it was way different and wore a completely modern look, similar to many developed European cities.  If you ask me, I honestly loved the old town by miles.  It gave that real earthy feeling.

We walked around a nearby garden, as the kids tried their hand at a few recreational kids-equipment installed there.  It was simply wonderful to do nothing but watch the locals in the town go about their daily duties.  There seemed to be no hurry about anything.  We watched, as a few tourists like us, swam in the nearby waters. Some others were enjoying their boating.  


Subsequently, we walked back to the ship and headed to our restaurant for a sumptuous breakfast. Four hours well spent in this small town belonging to an amazing country.  An unforgettable day.


The Ship bid farewell to the port at around 12:00 noon.  The scene outside was phenomenal in broad daylight.  We stood at our balconies once again,  as we sailed past the glistening waters, wishing deeply in our hearts to return to this glorious new land, someday.

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