Today’s guest post comes from Esauboeck:
Yesterday we drove from Wolfgang and Nora’s house in Mlini, outside of Dubrovnik, over to Montenegro, the border of which is only about 40 minutes away. (Be sure to carry your auto documents with you, though; we forgot our rental papers, and the border control made us turn around and go back for them!) We had a lovely lunch and found a great bookshop in the first Montenegran town we came to, Herceg Novi. The bookshop owner was a frustrated poet, extremely well-versed in English, French, and Slavic literature; we bought his book of poems, as well as a book on the character of the Serbs that he recommended. The shop even had a copy of Charles Bukowski poetry in Montenegran (or Croat, I’m not quite sure)!
We then continued on to Kotor around the stupendous bay with forbiddingly gargantuan mountains on each side. The drive offers stunning views, but is at times a bit daunting to negotiate. The road is sometimes so narrow that one car has trouble getting by, but the traffic comes both ways, and George felt like he was going to drive into the water.
Kotor is an ancient walled town nestled into the rocks and on a nearly-hidden bay surrounded by the craggy hills of the region. Its picturesque maze of alleyways and charming churches has now made it a favorite stop on the Adriatic cruise-ship circuit, and the super-rich (mostly Russians) have docked their yachts here. Consequently some accommodation has been made for the bling-tourist set in the form of chic shops and Eurotrashy cafes, although the setting makes it nearly impossible to destroy its charms entirely. We parked in the one parking lot that charges 10 Euros (!), and meandered the streets looking at some beautiful structures, finding evidence of the centuries-long Venetian rule of the place in the form of St. Mark’s lions on many buildings and the city walls.
Looking for a cafe, we turned into one of the small plazas and saw the most amusing site: on the side of one of the old buildings, a sign said Cats Museum. We had to investigate. The exhibitions were essentially collections of books and postcards with images of cats through the ages, but the purpose of the Museum is to support the efforts of an international group based in Venice, Italy, to feed and care for street cats
all over Europe. For reasons that are a bit unclear, the organization chose Kotor, because, as its website explains in its charming English translation, ”As a seat for our Museum we chose Cattaro (Kotor) in Montenegro, a city on the extreme part of Dalmatia for various reasons: its quietness, charming position and its situation of ” ideal city for cats” as the population is fond of felines”. And so the town has adopted the idea of being a feline-friendly place: feeding stations have been placed all over town, and most of the souvenir shops have cat-related items. (And yes, I DID purchase one: a kitchen mitten with Kotor cats on it…)
After walking through the narrow streets of the walled city and wandering across the picturesque bridge where the Skurda River flows rapidly into the Bay of Kotor, we paid the outrageous parking fee of €10 and headed
around the other side of the Bay to take the car ferry back across the inlet to drive back to Croatia (this is the scary side to drive on, since the car is on the water side when other cars come barrelling around the corners). A beautiful day, filled with cats, gorgeous scenery, and old buildings. What could be better? Oh, and finally, a Montenegran cat lounging at the border control.