Now I know where Montenegro is, and it is beautiful. If its name has anything to do with mountains, then it is very aptly named.
The city of Kotor wraps around the end of a fjord flanked by mountains, or what I think of as mountains, being from the mountain-free Midwest. The day is overcast and rainy, and the tops of some of the mountains disappear into the gray clouds.
Just like Dubrovnik, the city has an old walled city, a “stadi grad,” that was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. Inside the walled city, narrow streets paved with stone host numerous tiny shops and delis. The streets widen into small plazas where you find cathedrals, churches, and the ever-present sidewalk restaurants.
The walls of the old city continue up the steep mountainside, zigzagging back and forth past two more churches built into the side of the mountain, almost halfway to the top. We could have paid a few euros to walk up the wall, but unlike the Dubrovnik city wall, this looked like a job for serious hikers with a backpack full of supplies and an entire day to spare.
Outside the walled old city, the new city spreads out in a maze of residential sidewalks, narrow roads, and stairs. We wandered into one of these places and a kitten, maybe eight weeks old, started following us around. I couldn’t resist picking her up, she was purring so loudly. Once we figured out the road we were on was a dead end, we headed back down the hill. The kitten came with us. We didn’t want her to follow us back to the busy main street, so as we walked down a flight of stairs next to a stone wall, David picked her up and set her on top of the wall. She wouldn’t have been able to jump down or run around to the stairs quickly enough, so she just watched us go from the top of the wall. I do hope she had a home to go back to.
We walked past the only mall/shopping center I have seen since leaving the States, even though it, too, was only filled with small shops. Much of Kotor is well-kept, with parks and playgrounds, but it had its share of vacant lots and abandoned buildings. I think they speak the same Serbo-Croatian used in Dubrovnik, only the euro is the currency here, not the Croatian krona.
That’s about all we had time to see in Kotor. We had to be back to the ship by noon for the long sail back to Venice, 343 nautical miles. But it was beautiful sailing out of the fjord, seeing the mountains and towns crowding the coastline along the way.
Tomorrow we debark. Our bags have to be tagged and outside our door by 2:00 am, and we have to be out of our cabin by 7:30 am. Anxiety is kicking in again, because we have to get ourselves and our bags to the hotel on the mainland. I think we’ll have to ride the cruise shuttle bus to Piazzale Roma, the bus and train station for Venice, then take a train across the causeway to the station in Venice Mestre, the part of Venice that is on the mainland. It will be a little jog from there to our hotel, but eventually we’ll make it. Hopefully there will be time left for another trip to the island, one more chance to look around and spend our last few euros.
I’m not too sad to be going home. There are over 2000 people on this cruise, not counting almost 700 staff and crew. I’m feeling a little claustrophobic. Our friend from London, Carol, has travelled a lot. She told us that this is a small ship. She and her husband have been on Royal Caribbean cruises with over 4000 passengers; huge ships.
Now that I’ve gotten a taste of cruising, and know a little more what to expect, I could see us taking another cruise sometime. One thing I didn’t expect were all the incidental charges above what we paid for the actual cruise. I knew bar drinks wouldn’t be included, but I wasn’t expecting to pay 2,70€ for water with dinner. It costs to use the fitness center, the internet stations, wifi, and a towel on the pool deck. We pay 14€ a day for gratuities to the waiters, housekeepers, etc, automatically charged to our bill. If you go into it knowing that, it’s okay, but it was kind of a shock to end up with a 230€ bill at the end, which is about $300 American dollars now.
David is getting a little crabby, too, just wanting to go home. The Yankees are struggling to make it to the playoffs, and with restricted Internet access, he’s going a little nuts wondering how they are doing.
We had a great time at our last dinner with Gary and Carolyn and Helen and Maggie. We shared addresses and phone numbers and hugs. Gary is taking a business trip to Hong Kong in November, and he asked if Helen could hook him up with an interpreter — so they might actually meet up again soon.
One more day, then a long flight home. I’m ready. Mountains, walled cities, and canals are amazing, but there’s no place like home.