Kotor, Montenegro — August 2006
Manning Leonard Krull

I hitchhiked out of Dubrovnik after getting my bag searched by two nice Croatian highway cops; they kept joking about finding drugs, and saying sorry whenever they unzipped another pocket, and then thanked me and wished me a good trip after they were done. Shortly thereafter, I got my first ride with a Croatian sailor who was blasting American rock music, and then a second ride with a nerdy engineer, and then a third ride with an absolutely ancient man in a really nice car, who wanted desperately to tell me about his lovely campsite he was on his way to; he didn't speak any English at all, so he strung together a handful of words in broken Italian and German (neither of which I speak), it was of paramount importance to him that he tell me the campsite was just ten meters from the water. I eventually figured out what he was saying, and reacted with the awe he expected. My fourth ride, with two nice Serbian guys, got me over the Montenegren border, where the border guard jokingly chastised the guys for picking up a dangerous American hitchhiker.

My Serbian driver dropped me off in a Montenegren beach town called Herceg Novi, where I could easily take a bus to my destination, Kotor. All of the minibuses in Herceg Novi are apparently owned by Megatron, as you can see above.

I arrived in Kotor late in the afternoon and checked into an old Communist-era hotel, as there are no hostels in the area. This was my view from my hotel room; Kotor is situated at the very end of a long fjord, and the back of my hotel room faced out onto the fjord. My whole day of traveling (I'd started in Dubrovnik in the morning) was full of cloudy skies and occasional rain. The view was still phenomenal, but I was totally unprepared for how this would all look when the sun came out the next morning...

The old town of Kotor is a walled-in citadel, much like Dubrovnik, but this one is built onto the side of a mountain, and there's a medieval fortress at the top that you can climb up to. This is part of the lower wall, with maybe the first real live moat I've ever seen.

Inside Kotor's old town. You can see part of the stairway up the mountain that leads to the fortress.

I loved how Kotor was full of winding narrow streets and festooned with stairways and arches and all sorts of interesting structures.

More old town.

Okay, this is pretty neat, but makes for a crappy picture. This is back at the hotel at night. At the bottom, you've got the fjord and some yachts (better picture below) and just behind that is the walled-in city at the base of the mountain. Going up the side of the mountain is the long stone staircase that leads up to the fortress at the top, and the stairway is all lit up at night. I wish I'd had the energy to climb it at night, but I saved it for the next morning instead.

Another view from the hotel room window at night. Some of those yachts were nightclubs, competing to play the loudest and cheesiest Eastern European pop music all night.

And there's my view in the morning! It was pretty breathtaking to wake up to that.

My first task was to check out the bus schedule, and I found this mural across the street from the terminal.

Back in Kotor old town; you have to go through the old town to get to the stairway that goes up the mountain to the fortress.

Beautiful door in the old town.

Now, I always go looking for spooky/scary stuff in all my travels, but I never thought I'd find something this heavy-metal-album-cover-looking in Kotor. Here's a closeup. Let's see, screaming skull: check, snake: check, broken bone: check, rat: check, lizard: check, turtle: what?

This archway all the way at the back of the old town leads to the stairway up to the fortress.

You can see a few levels of the staircase as it zigs and zags back and forth up the mountain.

And just like that, I'm at the top! My narration here skips about half an hour of walking, a thousand or two stairs, and a couple applications of sunblock.

There weren't many people on the mountain that day, but I did see an old fat shirtless guy inexplicably lugging a giant box on his back up all those stairs. I lost sight of him while I was exploring some part of the ruin, and then I found him again at the top, selling ice cold drinks!

Here's a look down at some of the ruins of the fortress, and the winding staircase and walls that lead up to the top.

Jeez, that's pretty.

This tiny chapel is near the top of the mountain, and I had to photograph it through an iron fence.

An ogre or troll or somebody apparently ripped this door off its hinges.

Kotor fortress got punkt.

Marketplace outside the old town. I love this insane combination of stuff: palm trees, mountains, castle wall.

The moat has a surprisingly beautiful color in the bright sunlight.

On my way out of town now, here are more cute houses near the bus depot. You can just barely see some parts of the stairway up the mountain back there.

From Kotor, I took a bus back to Dubrovnik, and then another back into Bosnia...

- Manning Leonard Krull

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