This morning we woke early to clear blue sky and calm clear water. We had to get up and go a little earlier than normal, as we were taking a water taxi from our home base in Perast across the Bay of Kotor to the town of Kotor. Kotor is the main town within the bow tie-shaped bay and has become a popular cruise ship port, so the town has gotten busier and busier in recent years.
The water taxi is really cool and a great deal – 3€ to take the 45 minute put across the bay. The service itself is a pilot project – the boat is electric, zero emissions and sponsored by the United Nations.
The three of us and two Welsh ladies boarded and enjoyed the smooth trip.
As we rounded a corner, we saw two huge cruise ships anchored in the bay at Kotor, enormous and ominous looking compared to all the speed boats and sailboats flitting across the bay. We braced ourselves as we knew it was going to be a busy day.
Kotor is a medieval fortified town that changed hands with whichever empire was dominating the area at the time – Bulgarians, Venetians, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian – but the architecture is Venetian.
Kotor is known for squares and winding pathways and alleys – basically the best thing to do there is to get lost.
Ma and Pa wanted to try and conquer the 1400 stone steps up to the fortress on the hill, which sounded like a complete nightmare for me, so we parted ways, them heading to the ramparts and me winding deeper into the town, a specific destination in mind.
As far as I can tell, there is only one place to buy used vinyl in Kotor, and that place is called Vinyl Caffe. Vinyl Caffe isn’t at all a cafe, but a small hallway of an antique shop, and nestled near the rear of the shop are a few crates of records. I wanted to see if I could find some Montenegrin releases of some of my favourite albums, or at least some old Yugoslavian hit records. The shop keep spike very limited English, but I asked if she had any 70s Yugoslavian prog rock. She said a firm “yes”, and immediately pulled out a record with an unpronounceable artist name, album title, but a provocative album cover. I asked if we could listen to it and she said “of course”, pulled the record out of the sleeve, manhandled the vinyl slightly before placing it on her turntable and dropping the needle. The album was exactly what I expected it to be, folk-influenced prog rock, straight out of the 70s and sung all in Serbo-Croatian (one of the tracks even translates to “How Does It Feel to Kiss A Bosnian, Baby?”). I handed over some Euros, thanked her enthusiastically and headed back out to the stone corridors of people and heat.
Another fun fact about Kotor – it is a town of cats. There are cats EVERYWHERE, snuggled in corners, sunning themselves in squares, snaking through your feet as you eat. The cats of the town are very well looked after, as locals leave out bowls of water and piles of kibbles for the fuzzy felines.
Still on my own, I settled on a shaded pizzeria in a pretty square where I ordered a cold draught and wrote some postcards, getting a few updates from Ma and Pa – “hot. Lots of people. Dumb people” and “20 minutes in. Hot.” Even as I peacefully drank and wrote, I had a small grey feline friend occupy the chair opposite me at the table, who meowed, then entertained themselves with the chair cushion ties.
A bit later I got a text from Ma saying “3/4 way up. Too hot. Coming back down”. About 20 minutes later I was reunited with Ma and Pa, red faced and drenched in sweat. That climb is a bullet I’m thankful I dodged. We ate lunch at the same pizzeria and then decided to get lost in the winding ways of the town.
Most of the shops in town sell either typical souvenirs and tchotchkes, antiques or cat-themes wares, interspersed with cafes and wine bars.
After stopping for another drink, we walked back to the port to hop on our electric water taxi back to Perast. One of the ferryman asked about my tattoos and said how an artist that he knows will be charging him $1200 for a full sleeve. He spotted my Baba Yaga’s hut and noted that in the Balkans they have a similar folk character, but she’s knows as Baba Roga.
By the time we arrived back in Perast it was time for dinner, so we had chicken cooked over an open flame, local bread and beer, then headed back to our room for the night.