Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mediterranean Cruise - Day 11 - Montenegro

We were just pulling into port as we came out for breakfast this morning.  The tall mountains on each side of us reminded me of the Alaskan fjords.

Of all the ports of call, Kotor was the most picturesque.

A Celebrity cruise sharing the bay with us.

Kotor was our third and last tender port.  Today, after eating breakfast, we watched from deck while the crew unloaded the lifeboats.

Ok, I'll admit, I knew next to nothing about Montenegro before we came here.  Let me show you a map:

Montenegro is a country about the size of Conneticut, nestled across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.  As you can see, it shares borders with Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo.  Its name means Black Mountain, which is appropriate given the mountains.  It's said sailors saw the dark colored coniferous trees on the mountains and thought they were black.

After tendering to shore, we traveled by bus up an ancient road with 25 hairpin turns (they were conveniently numbered so you could notify emergency services which cliff you drove your car off of).  One section of the road was so curvy, the guide pointed out that it was shaped like an "M"; and we could see this from our above vantage point as we climbed the mountain.

The views were spectacular.

Our ship anchored in the Bay of Kotor
Our ship is on the right, there's a large peninsula of land, and then you see the town of Budva on the left.
After climbing so high on such a narrow old road, we needed something to lower our blood pressure.  We were in luck.  We arrived in a village called Njegusi.  This small village specializes in smoked hams, prosciutto-style.  We were able to see how they smoked the hams, and taste it, smoked cheeses, local wines and meads.

We ate at picnic tables under a canopy of grapes.
The hams were hung from the ceilings for months at a time.
A fire was placed in the room, providing the smoke.

The buildings they smoked the hams in were small, and littered the countryside in this village.  It was the local trade.

After that refreshment, we got back on the bus and rode a LONG way over to the Budva shore, where we saw the resorts, beaches and town from the bus.  There are some very exclusive and expensive resorts in Budva, catering to movie stars and the rich.

Then we drove back to Kotor and got stuck in traffic, so we missed most of our walking tour of Old Kotor Town, but with about 20 minutes to spare before the last tender boat back to the ship, our guide quickly led us in the town to see St. Triphon's church. 

Old Kotor Town gate

St. Tryphon is the patron saint of Kotor, the protector.  The church's construction began in the 800's, years before the Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was small but beautiful.

14th century frescoes
Altar, and behind it - a gold relief of the saints.
After we caught the last tender back to the boat, we ate a more substantial lunch, then I went on deck to watch us sail from port. 

A tiny island in the bay, a monastery.  The destination director said it was man made - monks dropped stones in this spot each time they came by in a boat, and eventually had enough land for a building and a few trees.  Very cool.

Chris had meetings as we sailed, but afterward, we grabbed a late dinner, then took our Merlot on deck and drank it under the moon and stars.  The moon shone off the still was a beautiful night.  Sorry, no photos.  Memories are in my mind. 

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