Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Kotor: Litter is Forbidden Unless Kittens

Kotor, Montenegro (Kotor, Crna Gora) 
The namesake for Boka Kotorska, or the Bay of Kotor, this walled town holds relics from its Venetian history and is now a popular destination for cruise ships. 
(Orange pins are places visited this blog post, green are other Teh Travels post's destinations.)
When diligently going about my research I discovered that the acronym KOTOR stands for Knights of the Old Republic, a Star Wars themed role playing game by Lucas Arts. #todayilearned
As we were feeling tired already, we chose not to climb the hill to the fortress and instead admired it from ground level. It's impressive that it's still standing after Kotor was nearly completely destroyed by that damn Dubrovnik earthquake of 1667. Didn't expect to be hearing about that again did you? The town also endured a plague in 1572. 
We selected a restaurant for lunch based on TripAdvisor reviews and discovered that the grilled chicken is almost as good in Montenegro as it is in Croatia! 
But the best discovery was that of a litter of stray kittens who slept and frolicked in a patch of grass next to the restaurant. The waiters were none too pleased, but we were! They must have been used to being handled by visitors to Kotor, as they were agreeable and docile when picked up. 
I'll admit I was pretty stoked. The kitten was not interested. 
Impressive architecture was just a little bit upstaged by yet more lounging cats. They are seriously everywhere! Behind the adorable feline stands the church of Sveti Luka (Saint Luke) which is an important building as inside there is both a Catholic altar and an Orthodox altar, showing that both religions can reside together in harmony. This is a welcome change from hearing about how NATO forces still have to protect Serbian monasteries in Kosovo (it's very complicated, but the nuts and bolts of it is that Serbia attempted to ethnically cleanse Kosovo in 1999 and now without protection the Serbian places of worship could be bombed by Albanians, the majority population). 
Wandering around the town provided great views of the surrounding mountains with attractive terracotta rooves in the foreground. 
Passing by a bizarre giant representation of Pippi Longstockings fishing from the pond, we found some old ruins outside the walls! There was no information at the site, and googling it later only came up with results from real estate companies trying to sell me abandoned houses in the area. But even without knowing the history, it was interesting to look around and guess. 
That afternoon we slothed at a beach that was near Bjelila at the start of the Luštica Peninsula. It was fairly busy, with other sunbathers, fishermen waiting for a catch and boats drifting past. At one point I did a double-take as a bright red mini submarine came around the corner, but I pointed it out to Yannick and Fabienne and they assured me that I was not seeing things. 
Our accommodation was a nearby apartment where we were given fresh plums, grapes, and homemade cheese and fell in love with a tiny ugly dog named Ba. She didn't slobber or bark and when you patted her head she would contentedly stick her face into your palm. 
We returned to the old town after nightfall to see Kotor with fewer tourists. The walls and fortress were all lit up and looked very dramatic against the black sky. Instead of cruise ship participants, we heard locals singing folk songs drunkenly from the bars as football played on large televisions. 
One of the main attractions in the town is the cathedral, which was built in 1166 and dedicated to the holy unmercenary Saint Tryphon (I already looked up what a holy unmercenary is and it's a lot more boring than it sounds). In Montenegrin he is referred to as Sveti Tripun and is a patron saint of Kotor as well as being invoked against rodents. 
The next morning we drove up a long road of hairpin turns based on the advice of the kindly apartment owner. He told us the tale of a Montenegrin king of old who once climbed up on foot and declared that he wanted to be buried there as he could look out over half his kingdom. We didn't make it all the way up to his mausoleum, but did enjoy some spectacular views of the bay. 
Those cruise ships are bigger than some of the villages! As it was a lovely clear day, once we descended we puttered along the Luštica peninsula to the tip where the pleasantly named village of Rose perched. However, the so-called awesome beaches appeared to be formed from concrete! We continued our sun quest to Žanjice beach where there were pebbles and many swimmers. Once the afternoon chilled slightly we drove the rest of the peninsula back to the mainland to find accommodation. You know you're in Montenegro when you see tanned old men in speedos doing roadworks. 

Today's post was almost called: Why Must You Pick Me Up, Giant Human? I am Tiny and Furry and You Have No Food