Kotor and Budhva

Kotor and Budhva

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… continued from Bar

Day 1

Our next stop was Kotor which is about 70 Km from Bar. It passes through Budhva, Petrovac , Sutomore and Tivat. Tivat is the only other international airport in Montenegro other than Podogracia. We arrived just at noon . We booked our stay close to the old town and it was a very short taxi ride from the bus station.

This is one of best preserved medieval towns in Adriatic coast and an UNESCO world heritage site

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Fortified Old town

After checking in our accommodation , first thing was to register ourselves to tourist office .   This is located in the fortified part of the old town. Kotor Old town can be entered through three doors. The largest one is the western Sea Gate, originating from 1555 (during the Venetian reign) built in the renaissance-baroque style. In addition to this, there is the South Gate also known as the Gurdic gate, which is the oldest one – built in the 10th century. The third one is the north gate or the River Gate, representing the symbol of the win of Kotor over the fleet of the Turkish admiral Barbarosa back in the 16th century.

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Main Square and Clock tower

The Clock Tower is one of the symbols of the city of Kotor and it was created in 1602, in baroque style. During the catastrophic earthquake in 1979, the tower was distorted a lot. Below the tower is the Pillar of Shame, which was used as a way of punishment, characteristic for that period of time.

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Continuing the walk around the Old town is the Saint Tryphon’s Square, where the most significant institutions of the town are located. One of them is the Saint Tryphon Cathedral. Saint Tryphon Cathedral is certainly the most beautiful and most important sacral monument in the city that was built and renovated in 1166. Earthquakes significantly changed the original appearance of the cathedral.

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Further on, at the Square of Saint Luka there are two Orthodox churches. The small one and one of the most charming buildings in the Old town, the Church of Saint Luka, is located in the heart of Kotor, built in 1195. By the mid-17th century, this was a Catholic church, after which it was handed over to the Orthodox inhabitants of Kotor, however, the Catholics retained the right to an altar. This is the only building in the city that has not suffered significant damage during the earthquake. The floor in the church is made of tombstones of the citizens of Kotor because until the 1930s the burials were carried out in the church itself.

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We came back late evening , it was a very tiring but yet fulfilling day.

Day 2

On second day I left apartment in the morning to join a speed boat trip in and around the town. This was a 3 hour speed boat trip to lady of rocks , Mamula and Blue cave. Ladky of rocks is a man made island. According to the legend local seamen created the island after finding icon of Madona and child . Upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the Bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays. Every year on the sunset of July 22, an event called fašinada in the local dialect, when local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea, widening the surface of the island, takes place.

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Lady of Rocks

Then we passed through the Verige Straits and along the Herceg Novi Rivera,  continue d out of the bay, past Mamula Island, a prison during WWII, and along the Lustica Peninsula to the Blue Cave. Enjoy a half hour of swimming in the cave. On the way back to Kotor, you’ll stop in the caves the army used for hiding submarines.

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Mamula Island

I returned from boat trip around 11 and then we left for Budhva. Budhva is another coastal town famous for beaches and very touristic. The old town center has that charm of medieval old town built by Venetians.

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Blue Cave

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WW2 Submarine hiding place

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Swimming near blue cave

Bus from Kotor to Budhva takes about an hour though the distance is hardly 30KM. Budhva gets huge inflow of tourists from cruise ship’s so the town is full of newly constructed resorts and hotels.

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Sveti Stefan

We went for lunch after coming to Budhva. It was a nice place with a nice view to the riviera

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From Budhva we took a local bus to Sveti Stefan which is about 6 KM south east. A fortified island village connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, its photogenic jumble of 15th-century stone villas overlooks an impeccable pink-sand beach and tempting turquoise waters. The island was nationalised in the 1950s and is now part of the luxurious Aman resort, meaning it’s off-limits to all but paying guests.

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Though there is a nice walk from Sveti Stefan to Przno through Milocer Park. It is a wooded park with paved pathways that are public. It sits between the Sveti Stefan island and Przno and runs along the sea shore and up the hill to the main road Sveti Stefan . Once a village it was emptied during the ‘reign’ of Marshal Tito the communist dictator that ran the former Yugoslavia. He turned the walled village into a playground for his visitors and friends in a communist state where ” all citizens were equal” evidently some were more equal than others.

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After coming back to Budhva , we spend sometime walking around the old town. Archaeological evidence suggests that Illyrian settlement was formed on the site of the Old Town before Greek colonization of the Adriatic. While the site was permanently settled since Roman era, most of existing city walls and buildings were erected during the Venetian rule.

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The entire town is encircled with defensive stone walls. The fortifications of Budva are typical of the Medieval walled cities of the Adriatic, complete with towers, embrasures, fortified city gates and a citadel. I did not have much time to explore the town . So it was just a quick walk around and also my mother was really tiered . So , we took a cab to the bus station and took the bus of 5.30 PM back to Kotor

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Day 3

Today is our last day to Kotor. I woke up very early and then left to Hike the fortress of Kotor. The trail head starts from just outside the old town. Built between the 9th and 19th centuries, the fortification’s walls didn’t actually create a continuous ring around Kotor’s Old Town until the 13th or 14th century. As military technology changed, so did the architecture. After firearms were invented, for example, new walls were constructed in front of the old ramparts.

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While the Venetians were responsible for the bulk of the fortification’s components, the Illyrians, Byzantines, and Austrians also left their marks. In the last 500 years, powerful earthquakes have rocked the area three times.

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I started by 6.30 AM, it was not that warm . The steep and rocky climb along the city walls to the fortress of St.John (San Giovanni) has 1355 steps; its altitude above sea level is around 260 meters. After around 20 minutes we arrived at the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, at an altitude of 100 m, where we made a break. The church was built in 1518 by survivors of the 14th century plague and became a site for people to make pilgrimages to. The view of the red roofs of the old town and the harbor below was magnificent . But I still needed another 40 minutes to reach the top  By the way, the whole hike in both directions takes around two hours – so don’t forget to take a bottle of water with you!

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Soon I reached a small fort with shelled out rooms and crumbling walls, which was interesting to explore. And just beyond these ruins, I came to a fork in the road, where we decided to take a detour and climb through a window in the walls. A narrow dirt path led into a small valley between two hills, where we saw a small, rather dilapidated church. The door was open, but what a pity: the interior was ruined and we could only see some faded fragments of old frescoes and a stone altar at the end. This appeared to be the church of St. George, built 1000 years ago on the back side of St. John’s hill.

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Back through the wall, I continued our hike to the St. John’s fortress. The higher I climbed, the more fascinating became the views. When I finally arrived at St. John’s fortress, decorated with a huge Montenegrin flag, I saw old Kotor with tiny roofs really small-looking below.

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High mountains surrounded me , but the view of the blue Bay and the town of Kotor below us was breathtaking.

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I came back to hotel around 11 AM . After having lunch at the apartment we left for Zabljak . The hostess was really nice she even payed the taxi fare to bus stop (which I came to know latter).

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