The Old Fogies go to Kotor in Montenegro

 

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After the excitement of Dubrovnik, we made the short journey to Kotor in Montenegro. Kotor is located in the secluded and picturesque Gulf of Kotor and is surrounded by the limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovcen which create a spectacular landscape.

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Like Dubrovnik, Kotor has been an important port for centuries, The town was first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during Roman times, when it was known as Acruvium, Ascrivium, or Ascruvium and was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.

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After the Romans, the city has a varied history becoming a Byzantium Dalmatian city-state when it got its name of Kotor. In the following centuries, it was controlled by the Bulgarians, Serbia, Hungary and Bosnia. However in 1420, Kotor asked the Republic of Venice for protection and it remained under its control until 1797. In World War I, Kotor was the homeport to the Austrian Fifth Fleet. After 1918, the city became a part of Yugoslavia and officially became known as Kotor.

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It is the Venetian architecture that dominates the old city and contributed in making Kotor a UNESCO world heritage site.

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When we were making our way to the city, all thoughts of its turbulent past was put to one side and the short ride from the boat bought us to a pier near the old town. Kotor has one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic and we were anxious to explore some of its treasures. The old gate was into the town had a Venetian Lion on the wall nearby to give a reminder its past.

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The ancient walls stretch for around 4.5 km (3 mi) directly above the city, but were not the type to walk upon, so we made our way into the old town. One of the main sites in the town is the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon which was built in 1166.

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One of the more unusual aspects of the city is the number of cats hanging about, Kotor has a large population of cats they have become a symbol of the city. The city has few cat shops and a cat museum, as well as the Cats’ Square (Trg od macaka).

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Although many of the cats are wild, they are not feral, water and food is left throughout the city for the cats to feed on and the cats are generally seen to bring good luck. There was certainly not much signs of mice or rats, so the cats are earning their food.

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Wanting to stretch our legs, we went over the bridge next to the old town which was above the raging waters coming down from the mountains and walked along a long promenade up to the church.

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Nearby was a cafe, so we ordered a coffee and had chat to the very friendly staff. Kotor has only become a popular destination from the turn of the 21st century. Not surprisingly it has become a bit of favourite with cruise ships with its protected bay and dramatic landscapes.

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It also seems popular with other visitors with plenty of hotels, hostels and restaurants around and lots of newly built villas around the bay.

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In the Kotor Bay itself, is the Our Lady Of The Rocks Roman Catholic Church, legend has it that some sailors found an image of Madonna and the Child on a rock in 1452 and started throwing more stones on the exact spot after every successful voyage until it was big enough to build the church.

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Kotor is a real hidden gem full of dramatic scenery and some quirky places to explore. The people are very friendly and welcome visitors to their city which manages to be intimate amongst the black mountains of Montenegro.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

The Old Fogies visit the Statue of Liberty in New York

Like many visitors to New York, we decided to visit some of the iconic sights of New York. Probably one of the most iconic is the Statue of Liberty which stands on Liberty Island, just off the southern tip of Manhattan.

On a warm and sunny day, we went on the subway system to take us from Midtown down to Battery Park where the ferries take the thousands of passengers to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Arriving in Battery Park, we were directed to Castle Clinton from where we could pick up our tickets for the ferry.

Although most people ignore Castle Clinton, it has a remarkable history.  Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton was previously known as Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort which was America’s first immigration station (it predates Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the United States from 1855 to 1890. The original fort was built between 1808 and 1811 on a small artificial island just off shore. When Battery Park was extended the fort was incorporated into the mainland of Manhattan.

Liberty Island and Ellis Island are run by the National Park Service who use Statue Cruises as the official ferry boat service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum. Like most of the major American attractions, once you have your ticket, you have to go through airport style security screening prior to boarding the vessel.

Depending on the time of day you may find large queues to board the ferries, however the ferries do run very frequently and eventually it was our time to board the crowded ferry. There is little doubt that the best way to approach the Statue of Liberty is from the water and many of the people on board had their camera’s ready for that iconic photograph.

The statue resides on Liberty Island, although the island was known Bedloe’s Island up to the 1950s.The Island is located nearly a couple of miles southwest of Battery Park, so the ferry ride is very short.

There is little doubt that the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues in the world, however when you see it in real life, its size comes as a bit of a surprise. In all it stands over 300 feet high and towers over the small Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty or Liberty Enlightening the World which is the correct name was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated in 1886.

The statue quickly became an icon of New York and the United States, and was always a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving by sea.

You can get tickets to go inside the statue but we were quite contented to get an ice cream and wander around the statue. The island also gives great views of Manhattan, New Jersey and Brooklyn.

The statue’s location is interesting because in some ways it is influenced by the large statues of antiquity like the Colossus of Rhodes which stood in a harbour entrance. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes over  3.5 million visitors each year.

As we made our way back to the ferry, we saw the crowds of excited visitors making their way to the statue. The Statue of Liberty has been attracting the crowds for over 100 years and is still as popular as ever.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.