Montenegro Day One: Kotor

Yes, I’m cheating for this post as there’s quite a bit of the day left. However, I have quite a bit to write about! After massively panicking if I’d ever make it here in the first place, thanks to a seven hour delay, I’ve settled in quite a bit. Getting from Tivat Airport (which basically was the runway, customs, and baggage claim) to Kotor took about 20 minutes, but sadly it was too late to really do anything since it was getting rather dark. All I did was just stroll around my hostel, the Old Town Hostel, and get dinner in a pretty solid restaurant. No worries, I’ve made up for lost time since!

Due to the combination of heat and people shuffling by outside our window on the street, I woke up at 7 AM. No worries, that actually enabled me to beat the heat! After being treated to a hearty breakfast courtesy of my hostel, I was raring to explore the city! On the wall-sized map I was provided with, I had noticed there was the remnants of a castle in the mountains above the city; checking my notes confirmed that indeed, it was the castle of St. John. As I was waiting for reception to open, I fortunately ran into one of the guys. He then proceeded to inform me about the awaited climb: for a mere three Euros I could pay for the right to hike about 40-45 minutes to the top. I definitely did make things easier on myself by opting for an earlier time slot AND bringing plenty of fluids, because at 10 the weather was already a blazing 77F (25C); as I type this, it’s been pushing 90 degrees (30C or so). As I got about a third of the way up, I rued the fact that I neglected to pack a spare shirt, cause I was sweating quite a bit. Not as much liquid as the Bay of Kotor, but at least enough to form a respectable lake. For those of you panicking about being dehydrated, fear not- at sporadic pints along the way, vendors had water, soda, and beer available for purchase. Even further up, I noticed some geniuses who’d shed their shirts, which was an ominous sign. Turns out the pathway, as a whole, wasn’t bad. Rather, it just simply was pretty darn hot. On that note, the pathway generally consisted of stairs made out of rock, and the sometimes optional choice of natural gravel. Personally, I thought both were nice and I was thankful for the exercise. That, and the gorgeously expansive views of the city and the bay more than made up for the sweat and heat! (I’m currently typing this on my iPad, so I don’t have the photos to attach. I promise I’ll rectify this as soon as I can!) Along the way I ran into quite a few Brits, as a cruise ship was docked in the harbor. Every time, we would bond over the struggle of advancing, and soak in the plentiful sun. Finally, the top! Words cannot explain the jubilation of reaching the top and observing a wide view of the the reddish-orange houses nestled between the wonderful mountains and the stunningly blue bay! You legitimately could have made the case that this would have justified the trip, if nothing else.

What goes up must come down, and this was a lot easier said than done. The elation of reaching the top got  bit sour knowing there would be more stress on the knees for trekking down. In the end, it wasn’t as terrible as I had built it up in my head, but I made a beeline to a) grab food and a cold one and b) not move afterwards. Thankfully, there are a few solid options around the corner from my hostel, and I treated myself to fresh fish and the local beer; food is the best recovery for a hard morning’s work of doing touristy things. After feeling suitably energized, I spent the next few hours or so sprawled in my bunk watching British comedy. Yeah yeah, I arguably should be doing more while on vacation, but try telling that to my legs.

Seeing as how I managed to sufficiently recover enough to get my lazy ass out of bed combined with the fact that I’d be taking an excursion around the country tomorrow (which will be something I’m looking forward to writing about!), I decided to knock off an item on my checklist and visit the Maritime Museum. While it wasn’t very big, I always feel the need to swing by the places of local culture. I summarily spent about an hour in the two-floored museum, and it was neat. It’s by no means the most riveting place, due to it basically being nothing but model ships and some paintings, I learned some new stuff. I hadn’t really realized the extent that Montenegrin/local sailors played in history, especially during the Austro-Hungarian years. Some sailors even got involved in Russian service during the years of Peter the Great, and I’m happy I picked up these tidbits. One thing I couldn’t help but notice, especially as an ESL teacher, was a fairly significant bunch of grammatical and spelling errors for some of the exhibitions. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t detract from the overall experience, but I’ve never been to a museum where there were that many English-related mistakes.

As I write this in my hostel’s common room, I must say that even merely strolling around the city and the surrounding waterfront is spectacular. For me, it was easy to get lost staring at the mountains and the water-the residents here sure are blessed with their surroundings! It sure is going to be a challenge re-adapating to Moscow and it’s fairly nondescript scenery.

The day is still young, so I hope that more will happen tonight. If so, I will follow up later, but for now, I hope you all enjoy my recap of my first full day in lovely Montenegro!

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