During my Balkans trip, I had a quick but memorable stop in Montenegro. I spent a night in the Old Town of Kotor which is surrounded by two amazing elements that make this place so special: the Bay of Kotor or simply Boka and the Fortress. The Bay is simply fascinating. It feels like the mountains have cracked and let the Adriatic Sea invade the land with its Blue waters. The Bay of Kotor is considered to be the southernmost fjord in Europe.
My Balkan trip started with a one way ticket to Sarajevo, a week-long stay in Belgrade and a return ticket from Podgorica. All things were more or less spontaneous, especially since I met Belgrade. That city is fantastic, it was a huge surprise to fell in love with it but not only there. Kotor, in south western part of Montenegro, is really an amazing place too. Easy to like it and quickly to connect with it even though it was raining during my whole stay! The weather was not too much of an obstacle -usually it is really annoying!- as I did not focus on the rain but rather on the glorious beauty of this tiny country.
Some history… Montenegro was part of Yugoslavia. Then part of a weird country, Serbia-Montenegro. Then independent since 2006 officially as “The Republic of Montenegro”. This is it for the history section… I’m being a bit lazy to develop on some historical facts but we know the story, a battle, a war, a hero, a princess in the dungeon. I’ve gone a little too far. But wait. There is a fortress in Kotor!
A UNESCO World Heritage, St John’s Fortress is at the East of the Old Town. But up in the air. A long climb will be needed. There are around 1350 steps-some which are broken so a couple of hours are needed to climb up and down. It’s no ordinary hike as there is spectacular view over the Bay of Kotor and the Old Town which clearly appears to be shaped as a triangle from up.
One of the main stops while climbing is the Church of Our Lady of Health which is approximatively at the middle of the way up. I stopped every 2 minutes to take pictures and I was impressed by the view every 10 additional steps I climb. It just gets better and better.
I stayed for one night at The Old Town Hostel. It’s a really cosy and nice place, friendly staff that offers drinks during the whole stay and cool travellers to meet with whom I hang out for a while. And surprisingly, I was not the first Moroccan traveller to stay at this hostel. The staff has met others last summer. And apparently, the summer season is just non-stop. The city and the country just gets crowded by visitors from all over the world.
It was clearly off-season. I was there in January and the Old Town was absolutely empty at some times of the day. It was fine by me. I felt like I owned this place. All mine. Also, since it’s a small Old Town. It was very enjoyable to walk around it but especially get lost and just enjoy it. I met few cats by the way!
But outside the Old Town, there is the actual Bay of Kotor. A fantastic natural beauty, a huge asset for Montenegro’s attractiveness. I walked near the blue-green-ish water and I was taken away by all the fresh and pure air. But not for so long because it started raining again! I took few pictures and kept walking around.
But unfortunately, my stay and my trip had an end. I was about to take a bus from Kotor to Podgorica which would take around 1h30min for around 80km of distance but due to landslides the main highway was closed so it means that I had no choice but wait long hours at the station, take the first bus to Niksic, change for another bus and then finally arrive to Podgorica.
80 km in 5 hours… I was lucky though to meet a guy from South Africa but because his parents are from Yugoslavia he went back home in Montenegro to study. We were both stranded at the bus station and both at the same situation, well almost,… the next morning he had an exam and I had a plane to catch.