Second post from Montenegro

It is the Solstice weekend, and my thoughts and heart are with my family and my clan as they gather to celebrate in our traditional way.  Here on the boat, we have just worked our first long week, 5.5 days of 10 hours a day. It has been gruelling, made all the more difficult by the heat and the draw to explore my new and unfamiliar surroundings.  I now sit relaxing in the first cool breeze of the week on the deck of the Amara Zee (which means Heart of the Sea Goddess, Amara) after a satisfying after lunch nap, and am into my weekend! yippee! I have now been here for four weeks.

The first weekend a group of us went to a neighbouring town called Kotor. It is slightly larger than Tivat and only about a half an hour’s drive away. There is an old walled city and a winsome hike above it to an old Fortress, used as a stronghold during the recent unrest in this area. We arrived in Kotor just in time to catch the tail end of a local farmer’s market, and so each of us spent a couple of Euro’s on various fresh local foods like tomatoes, fresh goat’s cheese, greens, bread and olives, then we wandered into the old city.

The streets were extremely narrow, and lined with high buildings, so we really felt we were walking in another time. To add to this, as we ducked under the stone archway that formed the gate, the first thing we saw was a man in full period costume! Fun.  The streets are paved with cobblestones, the houses made of stone, with little bits of greenery growing poetically from the cracks, and wooden shutters.   There are many stray cats that roam freely and lounge on the latticework of walls and layers of buildings, trellises, and balconies within the city.  After a short wander, we locate the entrance to the stairs that go up towards the fortress.  We pay 2 Euros for our entrance, and joke that the pay station is probably run by a local entrepreneur, and that there is probably another couple of stations just around the corner.

As the stairs zig zag up the sloping foothills, we are still surrounded by layers of housing creeping up the hillside.  As we start to climb above the houses, below us we can see the red roofs of the old city, with clay shingles as found in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. From further up, we can see the rest of the city of Kotor, of which the older walled part is only a small corner.  Above the town in both directions are fairly high hills, and above that on one side are mountains, with baked looking rock and sheer faces. We are the very end of a long, narrow fjord, in the Adriatic Sea, and around the corner of the coastline from Tivat.

In the harbour is a ginormous cruise ship like a floating city itself, whose scale and aesthetic looks completely out of proportion to the quaint architecture of the town and the decorous way it is situated.  White and imposing, it sits in the harbour, while the town ascends the hillsides in the manner of deciduous trees, seeking the valleys and the ocean’s shoreline.

We continue up the rough stone stairs, partly overgrown, but lined all the way up with a stone wall. It was a muggy day, and we were soaked with sweat from the climb. After several breathtaking view points, we reached the top, and explored the various structures of the fortress.  Some were entirely self contained, like root cellar rooms, only a little bigger. Some had slits in the stone for windows, through which we could see the sparkling water of the bay below as it danced in the sun. Still others were broken open, with the dirt spilling down from the level above in a slope of green grass and flowers.  We found a grassy spot and shared a lovely picnic, and after a short rest, returned the way we had come.

At the bottom, we celebrated our jaunt with a beer in one of the numerous restaurants in the old city, chosen for it’s comfy chairs. After which we wandered out, and onto the boardwalk that bordered the bay. We say for a time, watching the fish, who swim with the tops of their heads out of the water as they skim food off the top, something that I find unusual, as it’s not something I’ve seen, except for in Thailand. It makes the water look like it’s boiling!

After a walk along the seawall, we had a lovely meal at a beach side restaurant. I ordered squid stuffed with shrimp and drenched in a creamy butter sauce.  We returned from our lovely day by taxi through the long tunnel that bored through the mountain range that divides us from Kotor. This tunnel is very long, and has no ventilation, so the cab driver closed the windows and turned on the air conditioning. The air was smoky from trapped exhaust. It was amazing, something you don’t usually see in North America, even for all our polluting ways.

A lovely day overall 🙂

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