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Published: August 24th 2016
The drive from Dubrovnik to Kotor Montenegro is a short one, but it involves a change in worlds. Croatia is blessed with a beautiful coast extending for hundreds of miles of shoreline, including islands. The bounteous sun is almost ever-present, and tourists are plentiful. As a result, they have had the money to invest in their infrastructure and it shows. Roads are well-constructed and well-maintained. Hotels are everywhere, and restaurants plentiful. Almost everyone speaks English, a virtual necessity in the tourist trade. The parliamentary government is apparently well-organized, and the population is relatively homogeneous. Croatia has emerged from the break-up of the old Yugoslavia and the resulting civil war with a bright future, realizable now. As far as I can tell, the same is true for Slovenia, although we did not see as much there.
It is different for the other countries that were formerly part of Yugoslavia. I am not sure of all the reasons, although I suspect that it is a combination of geography, natural resources available, and factional divisions. Montenegro has identified the development of a tourism industry as a prime target, but clearly has a ways to go. In general, the people are very nice -
the exception being drivers. This is the only country I have ever driven in within Europe where the drivers are very gratuitously obnoxious.
We stayed at a small pension on the coast, 30 feet from the deep blue waters of the Bay of Kotor, said to be the deepest fjord in southern Europe. In reality it is a ria rather than a fjord, but the result is similar. (A fjord is created when a glacier sculpts a valley and the sea level later rises and floods the resulting valley, whereas in a ria the valley is a river valley. I learned this about 5 minutes ago). The narrow inlet into the Bay creates large currents providing cleansing water inflow, and thus creating a great setting for growing mussels, similar to the famous green-lipped mussels of New Zealand. We saw numerous such "farms" in the nearshore waters. Our lodging was small and fairly primitive by large hotel standards, But the proprietor family were wonderful in a non-English-speaking way, and the stay was comfortable.
Old Town Kotor is at the very end of the Bay. Circumstances and geography (large cruise ships cannot get through the narrow entrance to the large
Bay) have kept Kotor somewhat less thronged than it more northern neighbors in Croatia. It has large walls that go all the way up the mountainside and back down, creating a protective barrier that has served the test of time. Within the old area at the bottom of the enclosure are pleasant restaurants, small shops, and some very old churches, the oldest dating back to 1166. It is significantly smaller than Dubrovnik, but in some ways more pleasant because of being less crowded.
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