Thursday, May 24
Today we took a day trip to Montenegro - one of the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Border crossings are interesting. Our guide, Branko, had no way of guessing what would happen. Turns out the Croatia border crossing was slow, about 45 minutes, and a policeman comes on the bus & collects everyone's passports & takes them in the office & scans them. The Montenegro crossing was a breeze, they waved us through. On the way back in the afternoon it was similar except the Croatia crossing was only 15 minutes.
Montenegro is south of Croatia, and although not part of the EU, their currency is Euros. It's a very mountainous country, and small - smaller than state of Connecticut. Their history is similar but different than Croatia: Illyrians, Romans, Venetians, Austrians, Russians, Bulgarians, Napoleon, Yugoslavia. They are similar to Serbia, and were part of Bosnia before they declared independence. They use both Roman & Cyrillic alphabets. Catholic & Orthodox religion, and some Muslim (this is because the coast was never taken over by the Ottoman empire). The language is Montenegrin which is Serbian. And they use 2 alphabets here: Roman & Cyrillic.
of Kotor is beautiful. There is a very narrow strip called the Verige Strait (Verige is Slavic for chain) - narrow but deep enough for cruise ships. They used to chain this strait & had cannons aimed at ships that didn't stop for inspection. The climate is Mediterranean but the mountains do get snow & there are some ski areas (I remember Montenegro being in the winter Olympics).
The bus took us around the bay to Pedrast where we got on a boat and went to the island called "Our Lady of the Rocks". Legend says fisherman found a relic of Virgin Mary on a rock and since Virgin Mary protected boats they decided to build an island on that spot. They hauled rocks for 100 years, then built the church which took another 100 years. The church has votive plagues to protect ships, lots of artwork, and relics dating to 3500 B.C., found on the hills above Pedrast. There is one significant embroidered piece that took a woman 25 years to make using Japanese & Chinese silk, and her own hair on the heads of images.
From here we continued on the bus to Kotor. The Old
Town is surrounded by a wall, but this wall goes way up a hill to protect the fort that is perched on the rocks. This wall is also walkable, but has 1355 steps! The wall was built between 9th & 19th centuries, but most of it done during Venetian period 17th to 18th century. The weather was warm & sunny & humid, and I didn't need to do another wall walk. We only had a few hours here so I spent it walking around, looking at churches, having lunch & enjoying the Old Town. The churches here are either Catholic or Orthodox, and the Old Town had alot of destruction from the 1667 earthquake. Some buildings date back to 11th century.
Notice in the captions that the words seem to be missing vowels. As an English speaker, I like vowels and these words mystify me. I've been trying to figure out the pronunciation of these words. And there are accents on "C", "S", & "Z" which gives a "ch", "sh", or "zh" sound, but there are actually 2 types of accents for the "C" and the other one gives is a "tse" sound. At least it's a Roman alphabet.
Door of Our Lady of Rocks Church
Right side: Virgin Mary protects people.
Left side: Working to build church.
Back in Dubrovnik I had time to go up the cable car with Larry & Eleanor (from Colorado). I had wanted to go up yesterday but it closed due to the storm. The view is spectacular and there are lots of spring flowers. We got there about 6 p.m. and I went to the war museum. The museum is all about the siege of Dubrovnik by the Serbs in 1991-1992. Dubrovnik was ill prepared for an attack and was surrounded on 3 sides. They finally got reinforcements and pushed the Serbs back. I know that this is a very 1-sided account of the war here, and things got really ugly in Bosnia and Kosovo, but it's too complicated to explain. I ran into Kelly (from LA but in school in NY) and Nate & Michael (Ohio) in the museum. Larry, Eleanor & I went back down the cable car, got food to go and took the bus back to the hotel.
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