Part 6 - Kotor, Montenegro
Part 6 - Kotor
When we woke up the next morning and looked out the window, the sight of the steep rock walls in the Bay of Kotor reminded us of a Norwegian fjord.
As in the places before, we had booked a tour through a local tour operator (www.kotorprivatetours.com) and looked for fellow passengers on the CruiseCritic RollCall. This is how our group for this tour was the same as for our tour in Dubrovnik.
In the morning we met again in the lobby on board and took a tender boat to go ashore. During this ride we enjoyed the sight of our Constellation anchored behind us.
In the small port of Kotor our guide Anna was waiting for us with a sign in her hand. After we had introduced ourselves, we walked to a small parking lot, where our driver was waiting for us in a comfortable van.
We drove along the „Budva Riviera“ towards our first destination, a viewpoint above the small island of Sveti Stefan. On our way along the coastal road, Anna already explained that the area around Budva was very popular with Americans and Russians, which numerous luxury buildings and real estate promotional posters in front of them seemed to confirm.
Our first stop was at a little parking lot from where, according to Anna, we could see one of Montenegro’s most popular beaches.
A little bit further on we stopped again. Below us lay the picturesque small island of Sveti Stefan. Connected to the mainland only by a small dam, it used to be a small fishing village, before it was completely converted into a hotel complex in the 50s and 60s. As it also hosted a casino, it was soon called the “Monaco of the Adriatic”.
The guest list of the luxury hotel, which is now part of Aman hotels, includes numerous well-known names from film, fashion, industry and politics. We just enjoyed the beautiful view.
A few minutes later we reached Budva, one of the oldest places on the Adriatic. Once there, our driver parked the car and we walked along some modern houses and cafés towards the old town.
The old town is entirely surrounded by medieval city walls and is under monumental protection. Due to an earthquake on 15 April 1979, most of the buildings in the old town were damaged or fully destroyed. But thanks to drawings from Austrian archives, they were rebuilt stone by stone in Venetian style.
To begin with, Anna took us to a small hotel beach. From there, the view in one direction showed modern Budva with its apartment buildings and hotels, and the view in the other direction towards the walled old town seemed like a look into the past.
When we strolled through the alleys of the old town the little town seemed pretty, however, still a bit sleepy.
Two of the most important buildings in Budva are the churches in the old town. We first saw the three-aisled church of St. John the Baptist (Sveti Ivan) dating back to the 9th century.
Not far from it we visited the orthodox church of the Holy Trinity dating back to 1806. The belltower with spindle has 3 bells and a dome. A rosette adorns the facade above the western gate. The iconostasis of this church was crafted by Greek icon painters in the 19th century and has an extraordinary artistic value.
Santa Maria in Punta, a slightly dilapidated third church right next door, is one of the oldest early Roman churches on the coast. These days, however, the church space is only used for art exhibitions and concerts.
After our tour of the old town, Anna gave us time some time on our own. We walked a little further through the alleys by ourselves and then stopped for a drink in a café opposite the city walls, where we found Anna and joined her for a cappuccino.
Around noon we started our way back to Kotor. We made one more stop at a viewpoint high above the Bay of Kotor, where we had a good opportunity to take a few pictures.
As traffic near the old town was very slow, Anna and our driver decided to let us get off and start the tour of the old town from the back.
Via a drawbridge and through a small gate we entered another labyrinth of small alleys and stairs and thereby another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the way, our guide gave us backgrounds and interesting information about different places and the symbols on the arches and walls – e. g. This emblem showing a Venetian lion and the symbol of an old apothecary.
At a shop along the way, a small resident might have taken the name of the shop too literally…
With St. Tryphon Cathedral, we visited another church. The majestic rocks in the background gave this cathedral something dramatic.
It is most famous for its big silver altar with the ciborium and the scenes of the life of St. Tryphon.
After a few other sights, for example the small orthodox church of St. Lucas and the bell tower, we reached the main gate of the old town, which also marked the end of our tour. Just in time, as it started to rain that very minute.
We thanked Anna and waited a few more minutes for the rain to end. Birgit and I decided to go back into town and sit down in one of the little restaurants near the church of St. Lucas.
Here, we ordered a few local specialties.
Then it was time to take a tender back to the ship. From our balcony, we enjoyed the sailaway and the journey through the fjord.
Later on, we were already looking forward to a delicious dinner in our usual restaurant.
Afterwards, on our way through the lounge, we were lucky to catch the performance of Liv and Joe, whom we had noticed before. They made great music and enthralled their guests with much wit and charm.
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