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recaro94 Kotor - A travel report by Cody
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Kotor,  Montenegro - flag Montenegro
4021 readers

recaro94's travel reports

Mountain Fort Topped, Bay Bottomed, Wall Hugged

  8 votes
Kotor is the first city we visited in Montenegro, and it set the bar remarkably high. This walled beauty perches miraculously on a seemless border between cliff and bay.

Kotor from the fort
Kotor from the fort
Kotor is a small but glorious city, surrounded in bay, mountain and wall. Though it has passed between many different countries over the centuries, it now sits just inside the Montenegro-Croatia border and is a decisively Montenegrin wonder. Kotor itself sits with its back to a mountain, and is surrounded by walls on three sides. When the walls hit the mountain they don't end, they go up and climb all the way to the top, where they finally meet and culminate in an old French fortress. As with most relics and monuments on the mountain, this fort and its walls sit in ruins. The climb from Kotor to this fortress doesn't take too long, though is a steep uphill hike on disintegrating stairs. Kotor's front is graced with the Boka Kotorska. While the notion of calling it the Boka Bay has always confused me (boka is Serbian for bay...), in English it is the Bay of Kotor. This bay is breathtakingly beautiful and definitely Kotor's largest claim to fame. This sparklingly clear bay is walled on all sides by cliffs, whose steepness grows in impossibility from the Adriatic until Kotor in the bay's back corner where the sheer rock and the contortions that top them alone could keep you gazing for hours.

Favourite spots:
From outside the moat, the citys walls zig-zag up to the fort in the top right
From outside the moat, the citys walls zig-zag up to the fort in the top right
My favourite spot would without doubt be the fortress atop the mountain behind Kotor. Where I am from, our oldest fort is made of wood, and the museums inside are essentially ropes and signs labelled "Don't Touch". This being my first time in Europe, you can imagine my astonishment at a mountain top fortress made of stone and rock, chiseled at by war and weather, upon which I can explore and play as I please! Liberating is an understatement. Some areas of the fort had been reclaimed by nature, others lay in stony ruin. As the walls that met here climbed the mountain along side the pathway up, they occasionally gave way to guard towers and stations which in turn provided more rock chiseled platforms on which to attain remarkable views of both the bay and the valley filled with ruins that lies behind Kotor. The name of the game here is respect, so that these ruins are further ruined by weather alone and will still be here countless years from now when I can return and reclaim their views

What's really great:
Trying my best to capture the endless mountains, and the haze
Trying my best to capture the endless mountains, and the haze
If coming from Croatia, you'll likely have already experienced Dubrovnik. While Kotor, given its walls, is easily comparable to Dubrovnik, I found Kotor decisively more entertaining and rewarding, and without a doubt would choose Kotor over Dubrovnik if I were to return. For one, Kotor has a fraction of the tourists; you at times feel as if you're the only one there. While we did walk along some streets lined with touristy shops, they were all empty half the time! While Dubrovnik lays on the sparkling Adriatic, Kotor's sheer cliff background and deep bay foreground are a scene unmatched anywhere else.

Perast, from our tiny tin boat
Perast, from our tiny tin boat
When busing in or out of Kotor, you will undoubtedly pass by Perast. The name City of Kotor itself refers exclusively to the area within the walls. While the entire area is referred to as Kotor, all development to the north and south are actually separate municipalities. Perast is about a half hour drive north, toward Croatia. After passing Perast and realizing we didn't have time to go back, we spent our second day in Kotor renting a boat! We simply used our morning beach walk to source out a place to rent, someone called a friend and within an hour we had our own private motor boat with which to explore the bay! We asked for 3 hours and paid 50€, amazing by Canadian standards. Perast is an unremarkable town given the towns around it, but it does posses two tiny islands with a small church each; St. George Island and Gospa od Škrpjela, or Our Lady of the Rock. After a dip and a figure 8 around the islands we headed back, a 3 hour round trip in our rickety but loveable boat.

While this may be recommended and enjoyed by few, me and my girlfriend found the old ladies that wait at bus stops and train stations to offer accommodation to be incredibly wearing. For those who haven't experienced it, you will be routinely harassed upon leaving the bus and offered rides and accommodation. We arrived on a dead day in Kotor, and subsequently were the only tourists arriving that day and had 4 separate teams of women begging for our business! We relented and sided with the cheapest lady, 8€ each for our own private room in her condo. While it turned out to be the furthest away (10 min walk) from the Old Town, beds were comfortable and we got free juice! The walk allowed us to explore the unpopulated, early morning beaches. While her son did scold us for wanting to leave after one night for Budva, he gave me my first triple cheek kiss.

I like this view of the walls up the mountain
I like this view of the walls up the mountain
We spent our evening eating and drinking for the most part. Though we had already discover Nikši?ko beer at this point, we were now in its homeland where it came in dark! Kotor has one main square immediatley inside its main entrance but his is not the only restaurant cluster. If you explore a bit deeper, which isn't hard because Kotor is so compact, you will find multiple squares, each with multiple eateries. We found pizza and did not leave.

On top of the walls
On top of the walls
While Dubrovnik has it's navigable walls, it is little known that Kotor does as well. While climbing up to a restaurant on the north-west corner of Kotor's walls, we noticed a small metal gate keeping you from being able to follow along the wall tops any further south along the front of the city. Upon inspection the gate's padlock was open! And so me and my girlfriend proceeded to circumnavigate Kotor's walls. From here you can see many areas within the city that are mysteriously cut off by other walls and buildings from the winding streets below. Most lie in ruin and are filled with vegetation, but there are also guard towers to explore, trees to dodge and civilian windows to run past.

Other recommendations:
One of Kotor's many squares
One of Kotor's many squares
It is also worthy to note how run down Kotor's surrounding area is, easily surveyed from atop the walls. Across the street from the bus station is an abandoned factory, and to the north is a developed residential neighborhood with apartment buildings and traffic, stark reminders of Montenegro's economically weaker past, and a sad contrast to the beauty inside the walls. Economic times are changing for Montenegro though. Tivat is a city also on the Bay of Kotor, but on the other side of the mountain on the opposite side of the bay from Kotor. Tivat is growing rapidly in size and stature as Montenegro matures as it now possess one of Europe's largest yacht ports. Kotor and Montenegro in general, are at the moment a bit out of the way for most travelers. Having been in Croatia at the time it was easy for us to bus in, but there is also the option of flying into Podgorica airport and Tivat airport.

Published on Sunday October 9th, 2011

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Sat, Feb 25 2012 - 03:15 PM rating by jenny2

Nice report

Wed, Nov 16 2011 - 06:07 PM rating by louis

This is a great report. It just reminded me a wonderful time I spent in Kotor. And I agree with you completely, Kotor in some way is more charming than Dubrovnik.

Mon, Oct 10 2011 - 10:54 PM rating by krisek

Great travel story! Good job with climbing the wall. Loving the photos, too.

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