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Day 5: Kotor

Our plan for today was to explore Kotor, so we were able to have a bit of a lie-in until 07.30, before heading down the steps towards the sea to buy bread. Having breakfast on our balcony with a view across the Bay of Kotor was beautiful, although we were slightly disappointed to find that there was not just one cruise ship but two cruise ships in the town this morning!


Kotor is only a small place and it was clear that each cruise ship held several thousand passengers, so it had the potential to get very busy in the old town indeed. For that reason, when we walked into town after breakfast we decided to skip the main gate and walk along the outside of the town walls to the Gurdić gate at the south of the end of the town. I figured there would be fewer people going in this way, and happily I was right :)


As we walked through the gate, we realised there was a place where we could climb up onto the walls...


...and have a better view out across the bay.


We walked through some of the narrow streets of the old town...


...and saw the first of many churches which we were going to encounter in Kotor that day.


We also came across sign saying "Ulaz u tvrđavu", pointing towards the entrance to Kotor's fortress. I know from past visits to Kotor that the climb to the top of this fortress is a very tiring experience, especially on a hot sunny day, so we hadn't been planning to do it. When we were standing there we started to feel tempted though... and the entrance fee was only €3... so in the end we decided to pay it and just go part of the way up.

We bought our tickets and began the climb. The list of rules was slightly concerning, especially the part about encountering reptiles!


This was a different entrance to the fortress to the one which I have used when I've climbed it on previous occasions, and the path started off quite gently. We didn't have to climb far before we already had a great view of the harbour...


...as well as a great view of one of the huge cruise ships, of course!


Rather than just being relentless stone steps, this route took us along the mountainside via a more conventional path for a while. We had a great view of the mountains.


For a while we walked alongside a high wall, where we could peer through narrow windows to the town below. In this picture you can just make out Kotor's huge Serbian Orthodox church.


Eventually we came to a flattish viewpoint area, where the path we had been walking on joined with the steeper path I've taken before. Only one path led upwards from here, and so it was time for us to tackle the rocky steps which I remember so well from previous visits. Climbing up them was hard work, but with every corner that we turned we could see further and further out into the bay.


In addition to trying to avoid dying from exhaustion/sunstroke/an encounter with a reptile, one of the major challenges today was that the path was incredibly busy! One of the cruise ships, which seemed to be Norwegian, was evidently having a shore excursion for some passengers to go to the top of the fortress. They must have started out quite early, because as we were trying to come up the steps they were streaming down in groups. Because the steps are so narrow, and in places the stony path alongside them is too steep to step across onto, we kept having to wait until there was a break in the crowd to be able to get onto steps at all. This did give us a good opportunity to catch our breath though.


After a while we began to have a fantastic view down onto the red roofs of Kotor's old town.


We were all getting pretty tired by this point, but decided to keep going until we reached the church, which is perhaps just under halfway up. This is the Crkva Gospe od Zdravlja...


...and this is the amazing view it has.


We were thrilled to have got this far up, and once we'd taken some pictures of the view, took advantage of the cool shade inside the church to recover for a bit, before deciding that this was definitely as high as we were going to go today and beginning our descent. As we set off back down the steps, we kept peering up the mountainside behind us to see how far from the church we had come.


The further down we progressed, the clearer it became how the church really is just perched on the edge of the rocks, and also the more justified we felt in feeling tired after climbing up to it.


Eventually we were down!


We started to wander around the streets of Kotor, looking for a likely place to have lunch. Eventually we found an restaurant which looked promising in the square outside the cathedral of St Tryphon.


It was a beautiful location in which to have lunch, but the most memorable part of the whole experience was probably an English man sitting a few tables away, who announced to a rather confused Montenegrin waiter than he wanted a shandy. The poor waiter clearly had no idea what a shandy might be, so the man started explaining to him that it was beer with lemonade. The waiter became increasingly bemused: "You want me to put lemon juice in your beer?". Having disappeared into the restaurant, he emerged a few minutes later with two beers and a shot of lemon juice :D The man then started trying to explain to him that it needed to be a fizzy sort of lemonade. "Fanta??!" In the end they seemed to reach a compromise whereby the waiter bought him a bottle of Sprite, which he proceeded to try and pour into his beer.

Once lunch was over, we set off to explore some of the churches within the walled town. The cathedral of St Tryphon is actually more impressive inside than out; you have to pay €2.50 for a ticket to get in, then enter some sort of museum which might be very interesting if you had any idea what the various exhibits actually were, but unfortunately rather than having descriptions next to each object, they had instead just given them a number. The numbers presumably corresponded to explanations in a guidebook which they were selling, but we didn't feel like forking out additional money for that.

The church with the most spectacular interior was definitely the Serbian Orthodox church of St Nicholas, which had all kinds of exotic decorations inside.


We also visited the tiny Montnegrin Orthodox church of St Peter of Cetinje.


I never worked out what this church was called, but I loved the shape of its roof...


...and the fact that, if you look carefully, you can see the fortress church on the hillside in the gap between its two towers.


There was one more gate out of the town left for us to explore.


There was a good view up to the fortress from just outside this gate.


Just looking at it was making us feel tired at this point, so we decided to head back to the apartment to cool down and have a bit of a rest. Once we had recovered from our exertions a bit, we decided to go out for an afternoon stroll down to the beach below our accommodation to dip our toes in the Adriatic.

This sounded like a fun idea, but you have to remember that there is no such thing as sandy beach in this part of the world; beaches are either rocky or pebbly. This was a pebble beach and I naively assumed that the pebbles must not actually be that uncomfortable under foot... but I was wrong!

We walked to the edge of the sea and took off our shoes, instantly confirming that the pebbles are actually very, very sharp! I decided to try and paddle anyway but was quite taken aback when, upon stepping into the sea, my foot began sinking into a very unstable mass of pebbles. I had imagined that they would be quite solid underfoot, but that definitely wasn't the case.


I think Dad enjoyed himself anyway though :)


We decided that beaches aren't really for us, and went for a less pain-inducing walk along the promenade instead. Both cruise ships had left now, and so the views were wonderful.


In the evening we walked into the old town, where we had a lovely pizza sitting outside in the main square. Darkness had fallen by the time we had finished, and so walking back we were able to enjoy the beautiful sight of the fortress all illuminated for the night. It was a perfect end to the day :)




Edited by Tim

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