Lyn’s travels in the Balkans: Part two
We decided against hiking up the 1355 steps to St John’s fortress, one of Kotor’s main tourist attractions (there would be many other steps to climb!)
In any case there were plenty of less challenging things to do such as a visit to St Tryphon, a Catholic Romanesque cathedral built in 1166. It was extensively restored and altered after the various earthquakes which Kotor is prone to.
Just opposite the Cat Museum was the Lapidarium in the Church of St Mikhail, now just a 13th Century Gothic shell. It was originally built over a 7th Century Benedictine Monastery. We were the only two visitors there. “I think the small entrance fee puts people off,” said the enthusiastic young archaeologist who showed us around. What a shame as it has a fascinating collection of ancient stone monuments and archaeological fragments with inscriptions, as well as partially exposed frescoes on its walls.
One day we took a boat trip to a small man-made island where a large church stands, and then to the historic town of Perast, a small fishing village that was once home to the Venetians who built many palaces there, and which will be remembered by us as the place where we indulged in iced coffees.
In Kotor we ventured out through the gates of the old town on several occasions to the fresh market, where the stalls are laden with strawberries, cherries, olives, figs, prosciutto and local cheeses. And strolled along the waterfront where we bought crusty bread at a small bakery and muesli and bananas from the local supermarket. It made self-catering for breakfast and lunch easy.
Coffee is only one Euro as is a scoop of ice-cream, and meals are much cheaper than in New Zealand so we dined out each evening. Fish and pizzas are popular here. The soups are delicious.
One night our waiter, exhausted after serving a great many tourists (and still feeling distressed because one group had run off without paying their bill) brought our main course before the soup). After bringing my fish out on a platter he carefully prised out all the small bones before sliding it onto my plate. The soup was cancelled and he also took 10 percent off our bill so we were happy.
On our last day we visited the Maritime Museum which is housed in an 18th Century Baroque Palace, once the home of the noble Grgurin family. The models of old ships , paintings of sea captains, intricately decorated weapons, and maps brought an earlier era of Kotor’s history when it was a vibrant trading port to life for us.
That evening we had dinner sitting outside a little restaurant. We both started with fish soup. John followed with a whole seabass with chips and I had a Caesar salad.
The cruise visitors had left and the town was much quieter. Little kids were playing in the street. Violin music drifted over from the adjoining restaurant.
Afterwards we walked home by lamplight over the cobblestones. It was a lovely ending to our stay in Kotor.
By Lyn Potter
Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook