(written by Dave)
We’ve enjoyed a nice day off the bikes here in Kotor Montenegro. First a little history. Montenegro is the world’s third youngest country. It ties for this honour with Serbia, with whom they separated in 2006. Only Kosovo and South Sudan are newer. That is not to say that Montenegro has no history. It has been invaded/controlled by Greeks, Romans, Huns, Venetians, Ottomans and last but not least the Soviet backed Yugoslavs. The name Montenegro comes from Venetian sailors who used to identify a black mountain near the coast as Monte Nero, when said quickly became Montenegro. For some strange reason, I always thought that Ricardo Montalban came from Montenegro, but it turns out that he is from Spain. Another one of those strange thoughts that fill my head when riding.
All the invasions led to a healthy focus on self protection and today we had a chance to visit the fruits of their defensive efforts. We climbed the 1,350 steps up some impressive castle walls to the top of Ivan’s castle. The views on the way up and at the top were spectacular, almost enough to let you forget that you were getting hot and sweaty. The wild flowers and in particular, the poppies, were in full bloom as well. It was a hot, but very enjoyable way to spend the morning.
We had lunch in old town and wandered a bit here as well. The core area and buildings were established here in the 9th century but most buildings are well maintained and still in use. The whole area is UNESCO listed. There is reportedly a good maritime museum and we had lunch right outside the front doors. We were going to have a look but as we sat there enjoying the day, a massive group of school kids (probably on an end of year trip) clambered up an alleyway and right inside the museum. We decided to save the museum for another day as even getting inside was nearly impossible. Not a big deal, we already know that we’ll miss more than we see on this trip.
We are now back in the apartment, looking at the route ahead. I’m charge of dinner and need to get to the shops before I get in too much trouble. Nancy is looking up everything she can about Croatia, our 16th county and where we are headed tomorrow. Our first stop is Dubrovnik. We are probably going to have to wing it finding a place to stay there. There appears to be a lot of choice but we are starting to see more towns where you have to just show up and have a look. The well known places in guidebooks are booked out. I’m sure it will work out, Nancy is worried.
In addition to the border and finding a place to stay, we also switch currencies and have to get the internet sorted out. So, I guess that there are a few things to worry over after all. Off to the shops…