One of the reasons that Kotor is a good place to base yourself in Montenegro - beyond the fact that it is exceptionally beautiful - is that it's also well-situated for transport links, with regular bus services to lots of places in Montenegro and beyond. We therefore had lots of options for places we could go to on a day trip today, and after weighing it up we decided to visit Herceg Novi, a coastal town near the Croatian border which we had passed through on the way from Dubrovnik on Saturday.
First of all though we needed to walk into Kotor and visit the post office. We wanted to buy some stamps for our postcards and Tim also needed to post a parcel of books to a friend who lives in Serbia. After breakfast on the terrace, we left the apartment and set off for the town. Imagine our dismay when we found not just one but two cruise ships sitting out in the bay! There's only space for one to dock at Kotor's harbour, so people were being ferried from the second one in a succession of small boats.
This Cunard one was the larger of the two, towering over the walls of the old town.
Look at how long it is!!
As you can imagine, there was chaos inside the relatively small old town of Kotor with so many people descending. We fought our way through the hordes to the post office and successfully completed our transactions, before setting off for the bus station. It's only a 10 minute walk from the old town to the bus station, but as we walked we could see that we might be in for a rather long wait at the bus station once we arrived. The entire main road along the coast was grid-locked, seemingly mainly because of all the people disembarking from the cruise ships. Everyone who gets off the ships has to cross the main road to get into the old town, and there was a policeman controlling the zebra crossing, alternately letting batches of people and vehicles across.
We bought tickets to Herceg Novi (€4 each) for a bus which was due to arrive at 11.18. As suspected, it didn't arrive at anything approximating 11.18; it was closer to midday when the bus finally pulled into the station. We had been allocated seats 20 and 21 so I was eager to see whether the bus actually contained 21 seats (not a given in this part of the world!). Happily it did, although none of them were numbered, so we just sat in a couple which were free
The journey was beautiful, travelling around the Bay of Kotor again, past Perast where we had been yesterday and then onwards towards Herceg Novi. The traffic jams in Kotor were still causing chaos though, with the result that a journey which was supposed to take just under an hour ended up taking more like 90 minutes. It was around 13.20 by the time we arrived in Herceg Novi.
The history of Herceg Novi seems quite complicated. The town was founded by the Bosnian king Tvrtko in 1382, who called it "Novi" on the basis that it was "new". The "Herceg" part was added later, being a corruption of the German "Herzog", the title of a subsequent rule who expanded the town. Herceg Novi was captured by the Ottomans in 1482 and they ruled it for 200 years, with a break in the middle when it was ruled by the Spanish. After that it followed the rest of the region in being ruled by the Venetians, the Austrians, the French, the Italians and the various incarnations of Yugoslavia. The part with the Spanish completely confused me, but they left behind the Tvrđava Španjola (Spanish Fortress).
The fortress is not far from the bus station, in the highest part of the town. It only cost €2 to get in and explore.
Nowadays the inside of the fortress is mostly used as a venue for outdoor theatre and cinema.
It's in an amazing location, with views of the whole of Herceg Novi and the coast.
We could see some buildings in the town which looked worth exploring later, including what looked like it must be the dome of another Orthodox church.
We spent a while walking around the fortress.
We particularly wanted to make the most of the views of the sea, because tomorrow we will be heading inland for our final destination of Žabljak.
Then it was time to head down into the town. The main part of Herceg Novi is quite a long way below the fortress, and we followed a series of streets that were more like staircases than anything else to get down towards the sea.
Once in the centre of town, we quickly found the Serbian Orthodox church which we had seen from up high.
It looked beautiful, especially flanked by palm trees.
We followed some more tiny streets through the old town...
...and found the church of St Jerome, which is the town's Catholic church.
From here there was still a bit further down to go...
...until we found a second fortress close to the sea.
On the sea front there is also an enormous statue of the town's founder, King Tvrtko.
The view from behind him is possibly more impressive with the fortress.
One advantage which Herceg Novi has over Perast is that it has a proper promenade path where you can walk beside the sea. We strolled along for a while, before finding a cheap restaurant on the sea front for a (rather late) lunch.
As you can see, it was a beautiful location
Once we'd finished eating it was time to start the long climb back up towards the bus station for a bus back to Kotor.
We arrived at the bus station and I was about to go to the counter to buy a ticket, when we were intercepted by the driver of one of the buses which was sitting waiting outside the station. Happily for us, his bus was going to Kotor and he told us that we could get in and buy a ticket from him instead. Presumably it was some sort of attempt to defraud the bus station (who take a cut of the tickets they sell) but it worked out well because he charged us €3.50, which was less than what we had paid on the way there.
With the benefit of hindsight we might rather have paid the extra 50 cents and had a slightly calmer driver. His driving style turned out to be somewhat aggressive, with a particularly memorable incident when he overtook three cars in a row, accompanied by much beeping of his horn! We made it back in one piece though, and were able to enjoy a final sit on the terrace before packing our bags for tomorrow's trip to Žabljak