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Published: July 25th 2009
BELL AND CLOCK TOWER 1602
2 little men with hammers count the hours and just one ding on the half hour.
What can we say about the 12 hour bus ride from Belgrade, Serbia to Kotor, Montenegro, other than we now have 101 ways to sleep on a bus seat. Angie's favorite one is to stretch our with her legs going across the aisle resting in the empty seat. No one needed the aisle anyway until the stops. Francine's most comfortable way to sleep was to curl up facing the seats and her head on her blow up pillow. The only problem was when the bus breaked and she nearly fell on the floor.
During the night around 2am we stopped at the Serbian border, the border patrol kept looking and leafing through Angie's passport like something was missing. He said something to her in Serbian and Angie replied that she didn't understand. He just handed the passport back and moved on. Sometimes is pays to be blonde and non Serbian speaking. The entry border into Montenegro was just about the same and the only two passports taken off the bus were Francine and Angie's. Obviously we looked dangerous, but we always look that way in the morning and we were perhaps the only two non EU people
on the bus.
Angie at times would stare out the window during the long night to admire the night sky. The big dipper at one point in the night appeared to be sitting on a mountain slope. Pretty cool site.
We finally arrive in Kotor, which is at the end of a bay within the fjord, so we are surrounded by high mountains.
It is about 8:30 and we walk towards the Old Town. We look for the hotel booking agency and have to wait a few minutes for them to open. Angie decides to go get breakfast and has a really good omelet and toast (no butter or jelly for the toast) and freshly squeezed OJ. Francine waits with the bags.
We get this room that is smack dab in the middle of the old town. It is up two flights of narrow stairs and above a cafe that is open till 1:00am. The room is full of outdated furniture but the twin beds are comfy per Francine as she tested them out while Angie showered in the shared bathroom. We are only paying 20 euros each. The hotels here are 90 euro and up
per night. We have a fan and a soft bed that's good enough for us for the night. Its clean and dry.
We also do some laundry and chill out for a while.
Once settled in and refreshed, we venture out into the old medieval city and navigate the narrow streets and alleyways. One site that we will not be doing is the steep trek up to the fortress. We see the unfortunate people that have braved the heat and returned from the climb to do this and they just don't look well. Their clothes are drenched in sweat and they are panting and gulping down two litres of water at a time. This doesn't appeal to either Francine or Angie. We enjoyed the fortress from afar and had a leisurely wander through the many old churches and around the city walls. Venturing into shops that still have all the ancient stone walls and ceiling exposed. The atmosphere is fantastic. Even with the tourists it is still a peaceful town.
To our surprise there are two huge cruise ships in the harbor bay. This makes the town crowded but not as bad as we anticipated. Francine eats
a piece of pizza on the walk for brunch and we stop for iced coffee for Francine and Angie has a coke with extra ice and a small dish of gelato.
We are blogging this afternoon in a nice air con room above a cafe. No hurry to do anything else. We then take a walk to the bus station to purchase our tickets for the next mornings trip to Dubrovnik. We notice many people swimming in the water along the waterfront and decide to investigate. The water in the canals is stagnent as it flows from down the mountain into the harbour. We can't believe people are actually swimming in the water near the outlet canals and with their children. We make our retreat to the old town and pasta for dinner at one of the outdoor cafes. Then it is time to finish the next blog and send it out and it's air conditioned in the cafe.
We head back to our little room above the cafe, at this time the people of the town are beginning to emerge. Pleasantly surprised and with the help of Francine's ear plugs the music is not too loud and
it sleep time.
Kotor, first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during Ancient Roman times. Known as Acruvium.
Kotor has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Acruvium in AD 535, after expelling the Goths, and a second town probably grew up on the heights round it, for Constantine Porphyrogenitus, in the 10th century, alludes to Lower Kotor. The city was plundered by the Saracens in 840. Until the 11th century the Dalmatian language was spoken in Kotor.
In 1002, the city suffered damage under occupation of the First Bulgarian Empire, and in the following year it was ceded to Serbia by the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil. However, the local population resisted the pact, and taking advantage of its alliance with the Republic of Ragusa only submitted in 1184, while maintaining its republican institutions and its right to conclude treaties and engage in war. It was already an episcopal see, and, in the 13th century, Dominican and Franciscan monasteries were established to check the spread of Bogomilism.
In the 14th century commerce in Kotor, as the city was then called, rivalled that of the nearby Republic of Ragusa
and Venice. Kotor was part of the Venetian Albania province of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, except for periods of Ottoman rule between 1538-1571 and 1657-1699. Four centuries of Venetian domination have given the city the typical Venetian baroque architecture that contributed to make Kotor a UNESCO world heritage site.
In 1979 (April 15) a major earthquake hit the Montenegrin coastal area. There were approximately 100 casualties. Half of Kotor's Old Town was destroyed and St. Tryphon's Cathedral was partly damaged. Rebuilding and restoration works were carried out.
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