“Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every highway,
Every path you know. . .”
As the steps grew more uneven – actually missing in places – and the town below looked like a miniature toy land, I started humming those lyrics from the “Sound of Music.” My mental musical mantra carried me upward as we conquered one of those ‘travel bucket list’ items we’d had since a cruise stop in Kotor, Montenegro back in 2004:
We were finally climbing the walls that zigzagged up the sheer face of the Hill of St. John to the remains of a once mighty fortress high above this town of some 26,000+ people. It had been on our list since July’s triple-digit temperatures during that previous cruise kept us from tackling it.
Last fall we’d again arrived by cruise ship, this time aboard the Celebrity Silhouette. The October visit, on a cool crisp sunny day, didn’t provide us any weather-related excuses.
Kotor, is a UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site” and its Old City, (that triangle of red roofs you see on the photo above) built between the 12th and 14th Centuries, remains a delightful warren of narrow streets and squares.
It is located on Boka Kotorska, the Bay of Kotor, at the far end of the deepest natural fjord in the Mediterranean.
Upon paying the 3-euro fee to walk the walls, we were provided a brochure with map showing color-coded zones: ‘relatively safe walking path, zone of increased risk and high risk zones’ and a brief history of points along the way. It also said, in bold red letters: You are advised to use caution on the trail and consider your physical condition.
After all, it is a climb of 1,350 steps with an ascent of 3,947 feet/1,200 meters. (And once up there, you will need to come down). It began quite easily on somewhat uneven steps that lined a sloped cobbled path, which once had been used to move cannons up to the fortress.
Steps along our route continued to be uneven, many broken or missing in places, yet fine in others. Low borders in places and others not. (There were places you didn’t want to make a misstep. )
This somewhat rickety metal bridge, spanning a deep crevasse, led into what remains of the fortress.
We explored its nooks and crannies, which were often accessed by tiny openings. (I am five feet tall, by the way).
Venetians built the walls and a reminder of their presence remains today in the image of the winged Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of the then Republic of Venice, just above modern- day graffiti.
From the fortress we had spectacular views back over the city and bay and into valleys on the other side of the hill, like this one that revealed the remains of an ancient church.
From the fortress mega-yachts appeared to be the size of row boats.
Not everyone was able to make it to the top. Those of us who did photographed each other to celebrate the feat. We felt pretty smug during our descent when half way down we came across a group of red-faced, 20-somethings sucking air and declaring that they had gone far enough!
We had two major chuckles on this outing. The first was the “No admission” sign near the fortress that cordoned off a sheer drop of several hundred feet:
And the second was the young woman we encountered along the way, who obviously had decided to dress formally for this outing:
If You Go:
There is nothing better than arriving in Kotor by boat traveling through the fjord that cuts through the towering cliffs, passing intriguing small hamlets along the way. If you have an opportunity to take a cruise with Kotor as a port of call – we recommend taking it!
Ferries from Bari, Italy and Bar,Montenegro also travel to Kotor.
The nearest airport is Tivat, eight kilometers away and is served by several airlines.
More information: http://www.discover-montenegro.com/
It is time for Travel Photo Thursday so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travel! Hope to see you back here Sunday for WAWeekend!