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 go to Dubrovnik in Croatia

 

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After boarding the Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, we waited for the evening departure and then enjoyed a trip down the Adriatic coast to the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.

Although Mrs Nice and myself have travelled extensively all over Europe, we had never travelled the Adriatic coast or visited any of the Balkan states. Therefore it with some excitement that we looked forward to walking around the old town of Dubrovnik.

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Dubrovnik was previously known as Ragusa and was founded in the 7th century, its position on the Adriatic coast had led to the city being a valuable port which have been fought over for centuries. In 12th and 13th centuries, Dubrovnik became a commercial centre which was for a while came under the sovereignty of Venice. Between the 14th century and 19th century, Dubrovnik ruled itself as a free state, although it paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire.

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The city suffered a catastrophic earthquake of 1667 which killed over 5,000 people and in 1806, the city surrendered to the Napoleonic army. Later, power was taken by the Austrian Empire until 1918, and then the city was incorporated into the newly formed Yugoslavia in 1929. During World War II, Dubrovnik became part of the Nazi ruled Independent State of Croatia, occupied by the Italian army and German army. In 1944, Yugoslav Partisans occupied Dubrovnik and became part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

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In 1979, the unique nature of city was recognised and was included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately, the city’s new status did not prevent it being attacked in 1990s with the fall of Yugoslavia and the following Balkan conflict.

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Dubrovnik’s complex history lays before you as you enter the Old Town through Pile Gate, the main street known as Stradun takes you into the town amongst the old buildings and shops. Just inside the entrance is the Onofrio Fountain, built-in 1438 and many people look around for a way to get onto the old city walls.

You walk up a staircase to get onto the walls, halfway is an entrance office where you buy a ticket, the cost of admission is 100 HRK (kuna) which is about £18 and must be paid in local currency (kuna). Be aware, the ticket office does not accept pounds, euros or dollars.

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Over one million visitors walk the wall each year, the wall runs almost 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) around the city with a series of turrets and towers connected by long walkways. The walls of Dubrovnik are a popular filming location, well-known to the fans of the television series, Game of Thrones.

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As we made our way onto the walls, the grey skies created a very atmospheric scene and we looked at the rough seas crashing at the bottom of the cliff underneath Tvrdava Bokar, a massive fortress built-in the 15th century.

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The Old Town has fortresses at its four corners, which are the Minceta Tower, Revelin Fortress, St John’s Fortress, and Bokar Bastion. Inside of the old city, you look down on the hundreds of buildings with their brightly coloured new roofs. The churches and cathedral push up to create a wonderful panorama.

The width of the walkways vary from wide to quite narrow, but fortunately the less than wonderful weather did mean that the windswept walls were relatively quiet. It is worth wearing decent shoes to get up the often steep walkways and the walk is quite strenuous with lots of walks up steep steps.

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However, you are rewarded with wonderful views especially over the old harbour that overlooks the wooded island of Lokrum in the bay.

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As the rain descended, so did we and found a small café to have a warming cup of coffee. The old town itself was full of interesting steep little alleys and plenty of shops and museums. Near the Onofrio Fountain is a Franciscan Monastery, the Orlando Column, the Church of St. Blaise and the fascinating Rector’s Palace is now a city museum.
We entered the cathedral and an old building with a few paintings and reminders of those that fell in defence in the latest conflict to plague the city.

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Since, the 1990s and early 2000s, Dubrovnik has re-emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. In fact it has become a victim of its own success and the city is taking steps to reduce the excessive number of tourists, especially in the Old Town.

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Dubrovnik especially within the Old Town Walls offers a fascinating snapshot of the region’s complex history. It spectacular location and original architecture has made it very popular especially with cruise ships. As we made our way back to the ship, we both thought we would like to come back to the city and discover more of its delights and the area around the bay.

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