As you walk in a semi circle around the bay of Kotor and its sparkling waters you will hear lots of car honking and general chaos. A lot of police patrol the harbour front and they are quite interesting to scrutinise. They wear those wide peak caps like the cops in San Fransisco and I did notice that their gait was an extremely lazy one. I remember being very hot and sitting on a bench in the shade across from the marina and just finding the police patrols comical. It was like something out of Top Cat and talking of Top Cat they have those old fashioned tin bins in Kotor like Top Cat and his pals used to scrounge in for tit bits.
Across from the marina you will see many different entrances to the Old Town.Once inside this urban settlement, you will feel a bit strange. Well, I did. I thought the town was a bit eerie but it could be the fact that it is closed in on all sides and this gives it a claustrophobic feel. I don’t know if it was just my imagination running wild but I imagined being part of a computer game as a trader in a medieval town.There are many cobbled squares and twisting narrow streets, generally filled with people as day trips from Dubrovnik drop passengers off for the day. The stone buildings are indeed very mystical and the many cafes, bars and restaurants blend in well in these ancient and picturesque quarters. At night the fortified walls are illuminated making the steep mountain slopes behind the town a magnificent spectacle to view. Look further afield and the many churches, palaces, decorated gates which enhance the walled city suddenly come alive and it is like walking through the tattered pages of a history book. Each doorway you enter through becomes another chapter in the history of Kotor. As you stand in the main square looking at the cathedral and then up into the hills you certainly feel as if you are trapped in a scene of antiquity, a city of traders, sailors and pirates.
So once inside this mystical city what next? There are lots of wonderful buildings to admire but I think the first adventure to go on if you are up to it is to walk the city walls and visit the fortress of Saint Ivan. This fortress is easily accessible by walking the walls and up the stairs to the top of the mountain where the city walls completes its ring. One thing I did realise when I attempted this journey was how out of condition I was. It is a very steep ascent but the path way up is stepped which in theory should make it easier. It was a very hot day and I had only gone half way and was terribly out of breath and should we say, perspiring quite a lot. There are look out points at certain intervals which was a good thing for me as I could catch my breath and pretend to look cool when other fitter walkers passed by and said, Hello. So as not to look knackered I held my breath, smiled and pretended to take a photo of the view. Once I reached the top I was relieved because then I could really get my breath back and take some photos and boy, what a view. It is so panoramic – a natural setting with the bay and the mountains as the backdrop. Amazing. You can see the whole of the bay and the entrance of the fjord and the walled city. Having been astonished by this wonderful view I then started my descent and you would think it would be easier walking down but it wasn’t. My legs were trembling and I felt quite shaky all over. What made it worse was that there were some people running up and down the mountain and one bloke even passed me twice. How embarrassing is that? I was glad to reach the end of that adventure, find a little cafe in one of the squares, order a beer and get my breath back. Well, at least I can tick that event off my list of adventures with a note – never to try again!
As I have already mentioned there are several squares in the old city. The city is quite easy to navigate and whatever crooked street you take it will always lead you back to the main square which is the largest. This square is called Trg od Oruzja. In olden times this was the square where everybody congregated. It is the focal point of the city and still today lots of people gather here, mainly tour groups waiting to be led on a magical mystery tour.
The architecture of the city has many influences. I spotted Venetian, Austrian and French influences and a touch of Russian.
As you walk away from the cathedral square you will see a smaller square with some orange trees and underneath these trees lie about twenty bin cats. They were always asleep whenever I passed and I have many pics of them . They were very scrawny and so varied in colours – real street cats.
Another popular venue to visit is the Maritime Museum. You will be aware after being in Kotor for a couple of hours that the city is very influenced by the sea. The museum is located in the Palace Grgurin which is very stylish in a Baroque way. Details of opening times can be viewed at the tourist office inside the old town or there is a kiosk outside the walls also. Not all people working in the offices speak English. The museum depicts the history of Kotor’s seamen from the 9th century and illustrates how successful the Boka fleet and its navy actually were. Models of old sailing boats, portraits of seamen, old navigational equipment are all on display. Also geographical maps, engravings and some nice water colour paintings of the surrounding coastal areas are displayed. These interesting articles are a testimony of the glorious days of Kotor’s navy and sailors and the many battles between themselves and the pirates who roamed the Adriatic.
Shopping in Kotor is quite interesting. Apart from the souvenir shops selling kitsch and overpriced goods there are some very trendy boutiques which sell expensive shoes and designer clothes. Most of the shops are small and busy so it can be a bit of a hectic experience. There is an excellent bookshop near to the Bar Montenegro. It is one of those old fashioned bookshops that is crammed full with books and the shop is too small to hold all the stock so piles of books are lying on the floor and block your entrance to the shop. The young guy who owns the shop is very friendly and helpful and can speak some English but not very much. Only snag is that most of the books are in Serbian. For some reason I bought 5 Serbian/English dictionaries. I think at the time I was thinking that the whole family could learn Serbian. Actually, it is quite an easy language – much easier than Polish.
So there you are – the old town of Kotor. Geographically – very unusual. An ancient city filled with chaos and a fjord of amazing beauty.