When we woke up this morning and went out onto the balcony, we were thrilled to see that there were no cruise ships blocking our view of the bay Consulting the internet showed that there was one boat due into Kotor that morning, but it turned out to be so small that we couldn't see it from our apartment. As we walked into town after breakfast we did find that there were some tour groups being offloaded from coaches, but overall the town was significantly quieter than yesterday, and we were able to enjoy an early morning wander around the almost deserted streets of the old town.
There were hardly any people at all in the main square, which was wonderful.
While we had been eating dinner the previous evening, we had noticed some people walking along what looked like part of the walls in front of the town. It wasn't immediately obvious how they were getting up there and there certainly weren't any signs, but then I had a flash of inspiration and remembered some steps which lead up to the terrace of a cafe, from the far corner of the main square. We followed them upwards, and sure enough we found our way onto a narrow little path along the top of the walls.
As we walked along we had views of the harbour on one side...
...and views back into the old town on the other.
When we looked upwards, we also had views up towards the fortress and to the church where we had climbed yesterday.
The path wasn't very well maintained so you did have to be slightly careful not to trip over anything, but the views were definitely worth going up for.
Eventually the wall came to a dead end, near to the Gurdić gate and it was time to turn back around.
We walked back to where we had started and climbed back down to the town near to the Serbian church.
Once back in the town we went to the post office to get a stamp for a postcard, stopped off at a cafe in the main square for a coffee, and then walked out of the main gate towards the waterfront. We had bought tickets for a boat tour to Perast, which was due to leave at midday. It cost €15, which included the return boat trip from Kotor to Perast plus a trip to the island Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks).
We were at the boat on plenty of time and able to get a good seat. As the boat pulled out of the harbour in Kotor, we had some lovely views back towards the town.
There was some commentary on the boat which gave us some interesting background about the bay of Kotor including the fact that, although in places it looks like a Norwegian fjord, in the strict technical sense it isn't a fjord because the bay here was created by movements in tectonic plates, whereas fjords are created by glaciers.
After about half an hour on the boat, the small town of Perast began to come into sight on the horizon.
The tall church tower in the centre of the town looked very familiar from my previous visit here last summer.
Our boat deposited us on the island Gospa od Škrpjela, which is the only artificial island in the Adriatic.
We had half an hour to spend there, and I was determined that this time I wanted to get inside the beautiful church of Our Lady of the Rocks.
Last time I had been here there had been too many group tours, and so although I had visited the island, I had only been able to see the church from the outside. This time Perast was noticeably less busy, probably due to the lack of cruise ships moored in Kotor, and so I was in luck. We paid 1 euro to enter the church and were initially slightly disconcerted when walking inside to find it occupied by a large Slavic tour group. But they quickly moved on, and the guy who had been selling the tickets invited us to sit down while he gave us some facts about the church in English.
He repeated the story which I had partially understood from my landlady in Kotor last year; that the church had been built on this location because at some point in the fifteenth century, some sailors had found a painting of Our Lady on a rock in this bit of the sea. They took it back to Perast with the intention of keeping it in the church there, but the next day it reappeared on the same rock out at sea. This kept happening, until they realised that it was a sign that they needed to build a church on this rock to house the picture. And so they set about bringing rocks out to sea to build an island, which was pretty slow work until someone hit upon the idea of strengthening the base of the island with old fishing boats. Eventually they had an island which was big enough to build a church on
The other interesting story linked to the church is about a woman who embroidered a beautiful picture, partially using her own hair as the thread, while waiting for her husband to return from the sea. The embroidery is kept in a museum upstairs in the church and once the tour group ahead of us had dispersed, we were able to get a good look at it.
It isn't possible to make it out in the photos, but the hair of the angels around the edges is brown in some places and grey in others, reflecting the age of the lady when she sewed it.
Visiting the church and hearing all these stories was great, but the only problem was that we had nearly used up our allotted half hour on the island. We rushed out of the church and back towards our boat, which was getting ready to depart.
As the boat sailed across from the island to the town of Perast, we had another lovely view of the island.
Once we got to Perast we had a choice of either spending half an hour there, and returning on a boat at 14.10, or staying for two hours and returning on a boat at 16.10. We started having a walk around, and thought it was so pretty that we would stay for the two hours and have lunch there.
Our boat had arrived opposite Perast's main square, which is dominated by the large church of St Nicholas.
The church has an enormously high tower, which we didn't feel energetic enough to climb.
As we strolled along the sea front we had a view not just of the island which we had visited, but also of the island of St George, which is home to a monastery.
We walked as far as we could in one direction along the coast, until we got to the end of the village.
Then we turned around to stroll back again, continuing to admire the views both out across the bay...
...and of the town of Perast itself.
Perast really is a beautiful place
After a while we found what looked like a good restaurant and sat at a table near the sea to have lunch. It turned out to be the best food we had had all holiday; everyone's meal was amazing, and the view was pretty stunning too.
After lunch we wanted to explore the part of the town away from the sea front.
We climbed up a number of staircases in the hillside and eventually found ourselves at the main road above the town, from where we had a good view back down towards it.
From there we were able to walk down a slightly easier path back towards the coast.
There was about half an hour left until our boat was due to depart, so we just had time for a quick stroll along the sea in the opposite direction...
...before we needed to walk back towards the harbour.
The boat back was quite a bit busier than the boat we had taken out. We managed to sit on the opposite side to where we had been before though, so we had an interesting view of some of the other little settlements on the opposite side of the bay.
Once back in Kotor, we retired to the apartment for a while to drink coffee and eat some Serbian chocolate (the latter does not come highly recommended!). In the evening we set out again, climbing down the steps alongside our apartment to the promenade, and having dinner outside at a restaurant beside the sea.
When we arrived it was still daylight, but as we sat there twilight began to fall and the mountains were soon just dark outlines above the bay.
By the time we had finished eating, the bay was in complete darkness.
The way the lights reflected in the sea was amazing.
We wandered back into the town to see the fortess lit up at night again as well. For me the most impressive view tonight was actually the reflection of the walls in the clear water of the sea. It's been another fantastic day in Montenegro