It’s probably our own fault, arriving at the popular summer spot of Kotor in Montenegro before the tourist season had properly started. Not to mention that the longest winter anyone could remember had only just decided to do the decent thing and sod off to let spring finally begin.
We got off to a promising start. The changing vistas on the drive here from Podgorica to Kotor were remarkable, from marshlands full of birds to dramatic mountain passes and stunning seafronts. It was a magnificent ride.
But first things, first. We’re not actually staying in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Kotor, an old Venetian port that is a kind of mini-Dubrovnik. Our latest HomeAwayUK ‘home’ is in Muo, a twenty-minute or so stroll away. But the view across the fjord-like Bay of Kotor or Boka Kotorska to the walled town of Kotor is absolutely stunning.
The glassy green water. The fortress walls that snake up the steep sides of the fjord. The pretty little harbour area. The small yachts motoring in, their white hulls leaving shimmering reflections on the water. The afternoon conversations between several species of birds in the trees. The changing moods of the water, the passing clouds, and the transition from dusk to night when the walls of the Fortress of San Giovanni are beautifully illuminated have not lost their interest. The splendid setting exudes an almost mystical calm in a region where there has been so much turmoil in the past.
But all of this changes, however, when we try to actually get to Kotor. A poorly maintained road that for the most part is only a lane and a half wide makes the first ten minutes of walking to the town a nuisance. Many times we’ve found ourselves pressed against the stone wall of a house or teetering on the edge of the road, nervously wondering how cold the water is, as reckless drivers measure a successful passing of another car in millimetres.
Pedestrians are clearly an irritation to drivers here and rarely do they stop – even at crossings – for people to get from one side of the road to the other. I saw one attractive young woman in tight jeans and a cleavage-revealing top make it halfway across a pedestrian crossing only to have a young guy speed up to stop her from completing the crossing. It was probably her boyfriend.
Families with children would definitely need a car if staying here. We’re resisting hiring cars for as long as we can this year, partly in keeping with our slow travel theme and partly because we just love walking, but we’ve taken taxis a few times because we couldn’t face the (speed)-demons yet again.
All of this is rather frustrating, because the views of Kotor improve as you get closer to the water. From Kotor itself you can see across to where we are staying but the views are much more dramatic from the floor-to-ceiling windows of our apartment. (We’ll tell you more about Kotor in another post – or three!)
Our latest holiday rental is a spacious, clean, contemporary apartment in a complex of eight three-storey buildings that sprawl across the mountain slopes. There is a swimming pool, a tiny café, and a small playground up the hill, however, because the season hasn’t really started, the café is not yet open and the pool hasn’t yet been filled with water (and anyway, it’s still a little chilly at night and we’ve also had a bit of rain).
The apartment is open-plan with a large living area-cum-dining room-cum-kitchen with a Zanussi stove, a small dishwasher, and a decent-sized fridge. In the living area, there’s a huge flat screen TV and DVD player and a big comfy sofa setting. There are two bathrooms, one with a washing machine, and heating/air-conditioning throughout.
There’s also a huge terrace with table and chairs that looks out over an abandoned warehouse and out to the wonderful water views. But really the details of the apartment are secondary to those breathtaking vistas.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at our previous post.