Whiling away the time in Kotor, Montenegro

Just looked at the stats – 653, 747 in population. Kotor – 13,150. It’s a small place, a small country and it doesn’t have much in its favour. The mountains surround you and there is not much arable land to cultivate crops. Make the most of tourism? Then you have to have something that’ll make you stand out in the crowd. Here’s why I would come back:

Euro – even though it’s not part of the European Union yet, it employs the currency which could or might not work against you but at least it’s easy if you’re from the Eurozone or visiting many parts of it.

Fjord – perhaps you’ve heard this before, but it’s the only one in Europe, Norway counting as a Scandinavian destination. And totally stunning from every angle.

Beautiful Bay of Kotor
Beautiful Bay of Kotor

Galion Restaurant – fine dining, expensive by Montenegrin standards but the finest of fine dining to be found anywhere in Europe. The waiting staff understand what you’re on about, like after a white wine (which you can’t taste before ordering, minus points), ordering it anyway and then the waiter suggesting the red Vranac which is a whole lot better with your tender lamb infused with morel mushrooms lying on a bed of roast veg and creamy mashed potatoes. Cost for 2 €78 incl. 1 starter, 1 bottle of Krstac (white, better with food but quite acidic on its own), small bottle of Vrnac (red, recommended), 2 mains.

Galion Restaurant floats on the sea
Galion Restaurant floats on the sea
Lamb at its best at Galion Restaurant
Lamb at its best at Galion Restaurant

Fortress of Kotor – even an old 60-year-old bat like me can do it! 1200 m above sea level, 1350 steps with a bruised toe and a dizzy head. Really, I mean it, it’s so worth it. Every lookout point has another viewpoint and there are ‘angels’ on the way sitting under their umbrellas selling cold, cold water, coke and beer at reasonable prices. Even a rip off would have made me buy.

Almost there, not!
Almost there, not!

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Old Town – I know, seen so many of these in your time but this one is brimming with churches both Orthodox and Catholic, no mosques unfortunately even though it has the 2nd most devotees in the country. The prettiest one has to be St. Triphon’s Cathedral with twin towers and a wonderfully restful pale pink/beige interior. The upper floor houses a museum of relics and a view over the piazza.

St. Triphon's Cathedral in all its pale pink and beige glory
St. Triphon’s Cathedral in all its pale pink and beige glory

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Wine bars – abound, where the local drop of red (again, recommended) can be had for as little as €2/10 cl. At Bokun, the cheapest one was full of a cow’s milk nose, pleasantly so even though the malolactose might get to some. The flavour was full of prunes and plums and mocca. Delectable for sipping. At The Old Winery, the rosé is a bit more upmarket at around €4 incl. service. Delightfully refreshing, light and a no-brainer for a hot Saturday afternoon.

Me sipping wine, how unusual!
Me sipping wine, how unusual!

The Market – we’re all in love with markets thinking that we’re going to pick up a bargain here or there. Be warned – not always the cheapest since most vendors have already caught up with the trend. But do try the local Prsut (prosciutto), air-dried and deliciously succulent without being stringy, and ‘the best cheese in the world’ according to the lady behind the counter, Katunjanka from Čevo, high up in the mountains and a success story of small producers making their presence felt. Both come at reasonable prices.

Take your pick at the market
Take your pick at the market
A selection of Rakije, not Raki as in aniseed as in Turkey, but fire water with a flavour
A selection of Rakije, not Raki as in aniseed as in Turkey, but fire water with a flavour

Montenegrins – come with a smile albeit a non-knowledgeable one. Their language skills in English are somewhat limited and this could be the reason. The first question you’re asked is ‘Where do you come from?’ Taking the conversation further becomes problematic. Ask them where the nearest bike rental place is and they can’t tell you. Come on! It’s a small town and even I discovered it 2 minutes later 100m away. Some scenes however, give you an insight into their characters : one car rear ends another during a full-on traffic jam. You think to yourself, ‘how totally unnecessary’ and the next minute the drivers of both cars are shaking hands and getting on with life.

Dukley Design Montenegro – artists in residence use the environment to come up with some wildly interpretative images made in cloth, wire, paper, paint and whatever else comes to hand. Visit it on a Sunday and you get it straight from the artist’s mouth, as it were, with their explanations and musings on the works they’ve created.

Let's talk!
Let’s talk!

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Cherry on the top – take a dive into the clear waters, float on your back, peer up into those mountains and allow them to speak to you.

DSC05016Links:

Kotor

Galion Restaurant

Fortress of Kotor

Dukley European Art Community

 

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