Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Kotor is the new Dubrovnik. Or so it seems. The coastal town is located deep in a fjord on Montenegro’s coast, and boasts of a stunning walled city that rivals that of its Croatian neighbor. With all the natural beauty and a fraction of the tourists, Kotor is a great alternative to its northern counterpart. Or—at just two-and-a-half hours away—a great addition to a Balkans trip itinerary.
I traveled to Montenegro by bus from Dubrovnik late on Saturday night. It was country number 75 on my 90 under 30 Travel Project list, and I was excited to visit.
When I arrived, I walked the short distance to the walled city. There I met the owner of my accommodation, D & Sons Apartments in Kotor. He took me through the maze of streets in the old town to get to the apartment building. On the way, we walked through some of the best nightlife I have seen in awhile.
All of the bars in Kotor were packed, and there was a concert in the main square in front of the maritime museum. I was too exhausted from traveling to go out, but it looked like a lot of fun.
My apartment was right in the heart of the old town on the top floor of a building on one of the city’s narrow streets. It had a big bedroom, a kitchen and living room, and a bathroom. I could hear a little bit of noise from outside, but not much considering how loud the concert was.
I got a good night’s sleep in the air conditioned flat and woke up early to explore Kotor. First I spent some time getting lost in the winding streets of the old town. In doing so, I came across beautiful Orthodox and Catholic churches, a vegetable market, pretty fountains, lots of cafes with tables spilling out onto plazas, and several clock towers.
The backdrop to this scene was the mountains in Montenegro. They grew up right out of the back of the old town, such that some of the streets were up steep steps and the city walls grew high along the peaks as if they had been stretched out when the mountains suddenly erupted from the sea.
Climbing the steps, I walked right up to the crumbling old fortress at the top. It took a grueling 35 minutes, but the pretty chapels along the way and the views of the town below were well worth it.
Back at the bottom, I walked out of the city walls and along the waterfront. Unlike Dubrovnik, Kotor didn’t have much of a city outside of the ramparts of the old town, but there was a small park and a marina with several yachts moored for the day.
One such yacht was a vessel on which the person sitting behind me on my bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor worked. We exchanged contact information when we arrived in the city, and he invited me to a BBQ on board the boat that evening. I took him up on it, and spent a starry evening under the floodlit mountain with the whole crew.
I got another good night’s sleep in my apartment that night, and the next morning I woke up early and checked out. I was traveling to the nearby city of Budva, Montenegro, which was also home to a walled old town. I was excited to see another part of the country, but I couldn’t imagine that anywhere could be quite as picturesque as Kotor. Well, except maybe for Dubrovnik.