I woke up in Dubrovnik to a rainy day. Since the forecast wasn’t set to improve too much, I decided to push my kayak trip to the following day. As I now had no plans, I decided to make a spontaneous day trip to Kotor, Montenegro. Montenegro is a tiny country located just south of Croatia, with a population of only around 600,000. Kotor was a 2 hour bus ride away, not counting the border checks we had to do as we were exiting and entering the EU, which unfortunately was a bit of a lengthy affair, as the border crossing agents had to board the bus and examine everyone’s passport each time.
An interesting observation: Croatia, while in the EU, elected to retain their national currency (Kuna). Montenegro is not in the EU, but uses the Euro as their currency.
When we neared close to Kotor, the bus had to follow a winding path along the coast. I couldn’t believe the stunning beauty of the mountains and cliffs, dotted with small towns. The cloud and fog added to the mystique, reminding me a bit of the Misty Mountains (for those Lord of the Rings fans).
Hiking Kotor’s City Walls
Kotor is another popular day stop for cruise ships, and I saw several behemoths at the ports. Similar to Dubrovnik, downtown Kotor covers a small area and is walled off on all sides. At its back is a steep hill that has additional fortifications, and is known as Kotor City Walls. In contrast to Dubrovnik, the fee here is only 3 Euro, but it does involve hiking. Make sure to wear sturdy type of footwear, but it is well worth it!
At the top of the hill are the remnants of St. John’s fortress. The walk to the top took about an hour and a half, and I went at a moderate pace. There were several enterprising locals peddling water and other snacks at various point on the hill. The views from the top were spectacular, definitely well worth the walk!
Kotor and Cats
After I descended the walls and was back inside the city, I couldn’t help but notice one thing: the abundance of cats! Seriously, everywhere I looked I saw at least a few cats lounging about. I also noticed several restaurants and guesthouses with cat themes and began to grow very curious.
I inquired of a lady working inside a shop titled “Cats of Kotor” and she explained that for centuries Kotor was a busy trading port – the exact history of the town is unknown but this ancient city is believed to be as old as the sea trade in the Adriatic. And with those ships came cats from all around the world. Clearly many of them got left behind and today Kotor has a very large cat population, and very much embraces it!
The rest of Kotor seemed pretty nondescript. There were a couple of nice old churches as well as some chic corner cafés, one of which where I had an early dinner before I’d have to board the bus back to Dubrovnik.
Verdict: If you find yourself in Dubrovnik with time to spare and are looking for an interesting day trip, then head over to Kotor and hike the city walls and check out its abundant feline population!