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Days 5, 6 and 7: Zadar to Dubrovnik to Kotor

Our day at the Plitvice lakes was amazing and exhausting in equal quantities. The scenery was so fantastic that it was tempting just to keep walking and walking in order to see as much as possible, and by the end of the day we had walked 15 miles and climbed the equivalent of 120 staircases. We were both extremely tired, and Tim had developed a sore foot after being unfortunate enough to tread on a sea urchin while at Kornati on Monday, so we decided to spend a less strenuous day in Zadar on Wednesday.

After a leisurely breakfast on our balcony, we went for a walk along the coast and into the town. Our ultimate destination was the bus station, where I wanted to make an advance purchase of our bus tickets for the following day when we would be travelling to Dubrovnik. There are only a handful of buses which run directly from Zadar to Dubrovnik (without having to change in Split) and I was keen to make sure we had a place on the 10am one. Booking a day in advance paid off, as we were allocated seats 3 and 4 at the front of the bus and so had a fantastic view of the coast for almost the whole 8.5 hours of the journey.

We spent the rest of Wednesday relaxing, before heading out for a final walk around the old town in the evening. We stopped on the way to feed some ducks in a local park, before being rowed across the sea to the old town by one of the Boatmen of Zadar. Our last night in Zadar turned out to be our first meal out of the holiday (not counting a burger in Split bus station!) and we enjoyed pizza in the centre of the old town as we watched the sun set on Zadar.


Almost the whole of Thursday was spent travelling. We got on the bus in Zadar at 10am and finally left it in Dubrovnik at 18.30. It was nowhere near as painful as spending 8.5 hours on a bus sounds like it ought to be though. The bus itself was nicely air-conditioned and, as mentioned, we had ended up with the best seats. The view was superb as we travelled down the coast, with mountains on one side and the Adriatic Sea on the other. We passed so many pretty towns and villages on our way that we began to contemplate hiring a car during our next holiday so that we would be able to visit some of them. We passed through the little strip of Bosnia's coast too, showing passports to a very bored-looking policeman, and arrived in Dubrovnik a few minutes ahead of schedule.

We weren't actually planning to stay for more than a night in Dubrovnik on this occasion, the apartments where we stayed last year being full until Monday, and so were heading to Kotor in Montenegro for a long weekend. There is a daily bus between Dubrovnik and Kotor, but the Internet suggested that catching it could be fraught with problems. The infrequency of the timetable might mean all the seats were already sold out, for a start. Some online comments suggested that it could turn up an hour late, others that it might not turn up at all, and none implied that travelling on it would be a particularly restful experience. The first thing we did upon getting off the bus in Dubrovnik then was to attempt to purchase tickets, a process which went far more smoothly than expected. We ended up with seats 31 and 32 this time, so people evidently had been booking in advance. Panic over (at least for now!) we located the apartment where we were stopping for the night, a mere few hundred yards from the bus station. Another pizza plus an early night and we were ready to start our Montenegrin adventure!

The bus to Kotor was due at 10am. We were pleasantly surprised, upon arriving at the bus station at 09.35, to find that it was there before us and there had been no need to worry at all. The only remaining mystery was how long the journey was going to take, as online reports had suggested that it depended greatly on how big the queue at the border was.

The journey from Zadar to Dubrovnik had been beautiful, but the journey from Dubrovnik to Kotor was extraordinary. As we pulled away from Dubrovnik there was a fantastic view back towards the old city but this was really just the warm-up for the scenery which awaited us once we had crossed the border and began to make our way around the Bay of Kotor. We were lucky that there wasn't much of a queue when we got to the border, but it still seemed to take an awfully long time. First we stopped on the Croatian side and a policeman boarded the bus, collecting up our passports and taking them away. I hate being separated from my passport and really can't see why it was necessary now that Croatia is in the EU. About 15 minutes later the passports of the entire bus were returned, but seemingly not in the same order in which they had been taken. One particular energetic passenger volunteered to hand them back out and spent several minutes dashing up and down the bus calling out different nationalities. We had all just been happily reunited with our documents... when we arrived at the Montenegrin side of the border and another policeman boarded the bus to take them off us again!

The waiting time at the Montenegrin side seemed frustratingly long but, when we eventually got our passports back for the second time, we did find they had been stamped which was a bonus :) As we drove through the border town of Herceg Novi and towards Kotor, the mountains became steeper and more foreboding and the road was squeezed into an increasingly small strip of land between the mountains and the sea. I think we had a glimpse of Kotor from quite a long way away, but the journey to it took some time as we wove in and out of the intricate inlets of the bay. It looked very much like I imagine a fjord looks, although the Montenegro guidebook informs me that it isn't a fjord but a ria.

We arrived in Kotor at 1pm and weren't able to check into our apartment until 2, so ordered a coffee in the bus station cafe to kill some time. Oh dear. I think that was my first experience of drinking Turkish Coffee, and not one I will be keen to repeat. I nearly had a fit when I got an unexpected mouthful of granules towards the end of the cup!

When we did check into the apartment, we found it was a little small but amazing value for £32/night given that it includes a terrace with a view like this :)


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