|Monday it was raining and I hung out in the hotel for a while hoping it would stop raining. It did not stop so I took off on foot to the bus station in the rain. When I got to the bus station I discovered that the bus for Kotor was leaving in 10 minutes which was fortuitous. I got on the bus and instead of the one hour 49 minute ride I was expecting it took almost 3 hours. The bus went over the huge mountains and then down into Budva and along the coastline and then up to Tivat. When we eventually arrived in Kotor, there was terrible traffic on the road going through town. The road is a simple 2 Lane Rd. Turns out, the traffic is due to the number of tourists that come into town. On this particular day, there were two huge cruise ships in the bay. I had the bus driver let me off at the Sveti Stasije stop and my host had somebody waiting for me with the car. It turns out it was less than a quarter of a mile walk to the house but I appreciated the ride because it was still raining. I got settled into my room a very comfortable studio with a view and then went down to the market to get some groceries. I spent the rest of the night lollygagging around my studio. The next morning I took the local bus down to town. There were two cruise ships in the bay and lots of tourists. I understand that some days in the summer there are as many as five cruise ships each day. That's crazy because this town is too small for that many people. I joined a free walking tour of the city which was interesting and followed my guide's suggestion for an alternate route up the mountain to the fortress. It turns out it was a good suggestion because it was empty and proceeding on the regular route up the stairway is three euros, a cost that I avoided. I did not quite go all the way to the top but my hike was good and view was beautiful.
A friend of mine from Fresno, who I have not seen for almost 7 years saw on Facebook that I was in Montenegro and suggested that I meet with the family of her exchange student who she and her husband hosted a year ago. Our families have things in common as her two sons go to the same high school as my children did and they play water polo as did my son. The exchange student also played water polo and it turns out that Montenegro has a real passion for the sport. In any event, I messaged with the family and they offered to pick me up by my apartment and spend the evening together. Their son, Bane, picked me up and we had a nice chat back to their home. The view from their home was spectacular across the bay. Bane, Natasa, Peter and i sat on their Terrace and had a drink and some pastries. Very pleasant and we talked about a variety of things and it was very clear to me how much they loved their son's Fresno hosts, the Kapetans, who also visited here last year.
Peter suggested that I take a boat cruise the following day in order to see some of the sites in the area. I normally don't take sightseeing tours, as they are costly and out of my budget, but I thought that this would be money well spent.
So the next morning I went to the bus stop to take the bus to the port and there was an older man and lady also waiting. The bus was not scheduled to arrive for 10 or 15 minutes and a taxi drove up and said something to the man and woman and they got in the car and he looked at me and said something I did not understand but it was apparent they were going into town and he wanted to give me a ride and so I asked one euro? And he nodded his head and so I shrugged my shoulders and got in the car. He dropped the three of us off directly in the center of town. (There is no other place that you can go as the road only leads to one place.) I found the boat and the ride around the bay was amazing. We went to the blue cave where inside it is bright blue probably from phosphorescent algae. Many people from other boats jumped in to go swimming and I had my bathing suit on just in case and I decided that I should go with the name of the boat company carpe diem and I took off my shorts and shirt and jumped in. The water was really warm. Unfortunately on the way back it started raining but it only lasted about 10 minutes and then cleared up. We also saw the submarine tunnels that Tito carved into the mountain side in order to hide submarines from over flying aircraft. We then stopped at the lady of the rocks - a chapel which is on its own island and then to Perast - a town that is small and quaint and full of seaside cafes.
Montenegro is truly a land of contrasts. The monolithic and bare mountains towering above the quaint seaside towns is really something. The bays are completely tranquil due to their being protected by the mountains on all sides.
On to Dubrovnik, Croatia, a city I missed when I started my adventure in Croatia in May.
P.S. there are cats all over the place here. Everywhere. Even on the mountainside. They say this is the reason they avoided the plague - because the cats kept rats and mice away.