In my last blog I talked about how great it was entering Venice by boat; if anything arriving at Kotor was even better. I have to confess that I had never even heard of Kotor before, so I didn’t really know what to expect and I hadn’t made any specific plans to get up on deck early to witness our arrival. We wandered up to the Oceanview Café at around 0930 to enjoy the usual breakfast buffet to see the scenery already gliding past. Instantly breakfast was forgotten and we rushed out on deck to admire the breathtaking vista.
Our entrance into Kotor took us through wonderful fjord-like scenery which was swathed in atmospheric early morning mist, glowing brightly as the sun fought bravely to clear it. The water was mill-pond smooth, reflecting the surrounding mountains and the azure blue sky. The scene couldn’t have been more perfect if it was on a box of expensive tourist souvenir biscuits.
The ship berthed up in the middle of all of this beauty and we were tendered to shore in the ship’s lifeboats. By now the sun had won the battle with the mist and was shining brightly, giving a beautiful warm day: the best so far.
I have mentioned before the problem with booking excursions from the boat when you don’t know what is essential and what is an unnecessary extra. For this stop we had booked a tour which turned out to fall firmly into the latter category. The lifeboats dropped us on the dock right outside Kotor, but before we could set foot in it we were whisked off on a coach trip.
The trip was to go to Budva, the oldest settlement on the coast, about an hour’s drive away. On the way we did one of those horrendous package trip photo stops where the bus pulls into a lay-by in the vicinity of (but usually not in the best place for) a ‘Kodak point’ and everyone piles off for 10 minutes to take the same picture of the view. In this case the view was over the island city of Sveti Stefan (St Stephen), a hotel resort. Very nice, very picturesque, now let’s move on…
Budva was a very nice village surrounded by medieval fortifications. We were given a guided tour around the narrow streets and squares. The guide was very pleasant, if not terribly engaging, but as is the way with these things you get far more information than you want or need, so we wandered off to explore on our own. Finally we got back on the coach and headed back for Kotor.
As soon as we arrived we regretted not having more time to spend there as it is a very picturesque place, again surrounded by medieval fortifications. As we admired the view Andy, ever observant, pointed up into the mountains towering above the city: “look,” he said, “the walls go right up into the mountains.” And he was right, they did. “Do you think we can get up there?” he said.
But first, we had a guided tour. The tour was interesting enough, but again it dragged on a bit. The town was very picturesque and I would have like time to explore it with my camera, but now our primary mission was to get up on those walls. We interrupted the guide to ask. Yes, it was possible, she said, and pointed the way. Andy and I immediately abandoned the tour and our women-folk and set off.
The trip up was hot and steep, but punctuated with many photo stops. The view was amazing, although some idiot had parked a bloody great boat right in the middle of it! It took us about 45 minutes to reach the top. Having done so I checked my watch. We had just 40 minutes to get back down and find our way through the maze of medieval streets back to the harbour to get our tender back to the ship. Uh-oh, better get a move on! The trip down took less than 5 minutes!
Footsore, we managed to meet up with Sharon and Jan and were back in plenty of time. It would be a great place to go again, but my advice: skip the tour and enjoy Kotor at a more relaxed pace!