Balkans 2014 travel blog

Hostel where I'm staying

Alley next to my hostel

Marching band for the holy day today

View of the bay from part way up the fortress

Another view of the bay

Old Town

My bunk room

Sea Gate (main entrance to the town)


My original plan was to visit Kotor, a little further north. The medieval town of Kotor is a UNESCO site and was high on my list of places to visit on this trip.

So, early this morning, I packed up, left my keys in the room, and quietly headed out of Budva (Everyone here seems to sleep late.)

Once outside the Old Town, I quickly located a taxi and asked for a ride to the bus station. As we rode along, the driver asked to take me all the way to Kotor for $25 Euro ($32). I've found that it's critical to learn the standard taxi rates because the taxi driver's will jack up the price, if they can. I knew that the standard taxi rate to Kotor was $20 Euro and refused his offer. As we drove, his price kept getting lower. This early in the day, during the off-season, his prospects for making profit today aren't good. Once his offer reached $17 Euro, I accepted. He promptly turned left and headed for Kotor.

We reached “Stari Grad” (the Old Town section of Kotor) at 7:40. Knowing that Kotor has a hostel run by the same Montenegro Travel company, I decided to check them first. When I reached their door, the sign said “Reception Hours 9:00 – 23:00”. Oops. Too early. I decided to wait for them to open, hoping that they were reasonably prompt. Sure enough, at 8:58, someone arrived to open up. Although the didn't have any private rooms available, he offered to give me an entire dorm room to myself. It would cost $15 Euro for two days ($9.50//night). I quickly accepted and paid up.

Leaving my backpack with him, I headed up to the top of the fortress walls

It's easy to see why Kotor has been a busy seaport for nearly two thousand years. It's located in a naturally protected cove at the end of a long, winding bay. This bay is often called the only fjord in southern Europe. (This is not technically correct because fjords are carved by glaciers and this bay was formed in this shape by tectonic forces. But, why quibble over nasty facts.)

The fortress's origin dates back to the 6th Century AD. Every culture since then has added to it. The result is a series of walls ringing the old town. It's possible to climb to the top of the fortress and return in only two hours. But, I decided to take my time and examine everything as I climbed. I got back down to the Old Town around noon, just in time for lunch and a nap. I do enjoy my after lunch nap!

It turns out that today happens to be a big religious holiday here in Kotor. According to the Serbian Orthodox Church, today is the Feast of St Michael, who just happens to be the patron saint of the town. The church bells were ringing and ringing and ringing! There was even a small marching band.

Because we're located in a deep valley and because it's November, sunset is very early here. By 2:30pm the entire Stari Grad (Old Town) was in the shadow of the surrounding mountains. So, I returned to the hostel.

One interesting aspect of hostels is that everyone there is traveling on the cheap. And, everybody speaks at least a little English. Naturally the residents love to trade stories of their exploits. One of the gentleman I met is from Canada and travels, if you can believe this, even more often than me! He'll frequently be on the road for four months. And, when he flies, he only has carry-on luggage. I've never been able to do that except for very short trips.

We talked about my blog and my Arm-Chair Travels with Dr Ken presentations. He urged me to expand my reach to more diverse groups. It's something I've been seriously considering.

We also talked about “motivational speaking”. I stated that I'm not a good motivational speaker because motivational speakers usually say things like: you can be anything you want. I know all to well that, for a variety of reasons, most people can't be whatever they want. The discussion then moved my goal of “inspirational speaking”. It's message, in essence, is that you can learn to enjoy life and appreciate the day, not matter what is thrown at you. We can't control what happens but we can control how we respond to it. He agreed with this assessment and suggested that I visit one of his favorite websites: greatfulness.org You might want to give it a try!



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