From Dubrovnik, I took a bus to Kotor, Montenegro.
My hostel was located right in the old town, and from the moment I saw the entrance to the town I was happy to be here.
My hostel felt like an old town hostel should, and included a Kotor pass with deals at certain restaurants and stores.
The most important of these deals for me was a euro off the specialty coffee at a coffee shop downtown.
The café is called Letrika and their specialty is charcoal coffee.
The idea behind putting a hot piece of charcoal in your coffee is that it will take the acidity out. The coffee was good enough to drink black and I think I went there every day. On the first day after I ordered my second cup my waiter said the third is on the house. After finishing the second he asked “can you actually drink a third?” He underestimated me.
What really surprised me is that at both my hostel and the café I heard the song Shiki no Uta which is by the Japanese DJ Nujabes. Kotor, Montenegro is not where I expected to hear that playing.
Orthodox churches really are beautiful.
When the buildings in the narrow alleys didn’t obstruct your view, it was easy to see the surrounding mountains.
The actual walled old town of Kotor was easy to get lost in, but only momentarily as it was also pretty small.
I kept looking up at the fortress knowing that a difficult hike was in my future.
On the second day, a nice German guy in my room invited me to come to Perast with him, and since it was already on my to – do list I was glad to have someone to explore with.
After charcoal coffee of course.
Perast is another old town located in the Bay of Kotor, only about a 30 minute bus ride away. This day trip cost a euro both ways for the bus, a euro to go up the bell tower, and 5 euros for a boat ride to an island and back, making this an 8€ excursion from Kotor.
This is the bell tower we climbed for a euro.
The wind was strong and the sun was shining, and we spent 20 minutes just leaning on the railing looking out over the bay.
The wind reminded me of Prince Edward Island and all the best summer memories there.
We both hit our heads on the bell. It didn’t even move. The lady who sold us our tickets at the bottom told us not to ring the bell but I’m not convinced it’s possible.
My main reason for coming to Perast and my goal for the day was to see these two islands.
We decided to first explore the town.
We were trying to get to a church a little farther back but it was a matter of guessing which of the tiny streets would get us there.
I really like the Montenegrin flag.
Eventually, for 5€, we took a boat out to see Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island with a beautiful church on it. Of the two islands, only Our Lady of the Rocks is open to the public. We still got a good view of the natural Island of St. George, where the old nobility of Perast is buried, from the boat.
Our Lady of the Rocks was beautiful and I was glad that we made it out there from Kotor. It was worth it.
It afforded some great views of the surrounding bay.
Unfortunately the Blue Line bus only passes hourly and we saw it pass as our boat was docking.
Despite being stranded for an hour at the end, it was a fantastic day. I spent the rest of it wandering around Kotor more.
After a few days of strengthening my resolve, I finally took on the hike to the fortress.
It got high quick, and I was not at a level of fitness to handle this easily.
As I walked I kept passing and falling behind a group of three Indian guys, so I felt a little better that my pace wasn’t significantly worse. My favourite part though, is when a girl in a dress and sandals calmly walked past all of us as if she were out for her usual evening stroll.
I kept asking myself, “would I regret if I decided to turn back now?” and since apparently I didn’t like me that day the answer was yes.
This is the face of someone ready to fall off a mountain.
After what was either one or seven hours, I arrived at the top.
In the immortal words of Stevie Nicks, I climbed a mount and turned around. I was ready for bed.
Since all cats appreciate human suffering, I thought this was an appropriate end to the hike.
The next morning saw me back at sea level with charcoal coffee before my bus out of Kotor.
From Kotor I took a bus to Podgorica, and the bus ride was amazing!
I would occasionally glance out of the window and hundreds of feet down, and then glance uncomfortably at the bus driver who I’m trusting to keep the bus from becoming airborne.
The bus passed through the popular beach town of Budva, and by Skadar National Park.
Never before have I had so many people tell me to not go somewhere because it was not interesting. Some people even asked me to please not to go to Podgorica. Naturally, I was too curious not to. (Plus I needed to go through it anyways.)
My day in Podgorica, which is the capital of Montenegro, was actually pretty good!
I started at a really good coffee shop that was literally under a bridge.
I did a large loop around town and tried to see everything I could in a day.
It clearly isn’t the wealthiest city, but it was nice enough to visit for a day.
I walked my way through various parks and bridges. One park included the royal summer house.
The best part though, and the reason I’m glad I came to Podgorica, was the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.
The outside was really nice, but the inside is really a work of art.
It was absolutely beautiful. Before this trip I don’t think I had ever been inside an Orthodox Cathedral, and it has become clear that I’ve been missing out.
I finished off my time in Montenegro visiting another park with a war monument.
It was nice, and I always think about my grandfather at places like this.
Moral of the story: I need to learn how to make charcoal coffee.