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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

18 May 2013

Balmy day, Kotor Bay

10th May 2013

I can’t imagine walking the walls of Dubrovnik in the middle of the day in summer. It was hot at 9:30 in the morning in May, and by the time we finished at 10:30 there were a few people-jams starting to form at the narrower points and the steeper stairs. In the middle of a summer day it would be hell.

Instead it was stunning. The Adriatic is a wonderful azure from the foot of the towering limestone walls to the horizon, while the old town inside the walls is a sea of bright terracotta rooftops punctuated by the occasional stately bell tower. It’s a sight to behold and I reckon there aren’t many small historical cities in the world to match it.

Fast-forward into the afternoon and a different country, Montenegro. The Bay of Kotor is a tranquil little backwater of the Adriatic, tucked away between towering tree-clad hillsides. There’s nothing finer than sitting under a shady parasol right at the water’s edge and sipping a lemonade while the hot afternoon wears by. By lemonade I mean lemon juice and iced water, not fizzy stuff with no lemons in.

Kotor itself is a charming medieval walled town, really very much like a smaller and less polished version of Dubrovnik. But we’re staying in Perast, a village further back along the bay with a relaxed atmosphere and a single road that is an absolute nightmare when there’s traffic coming the other way: one car teters on the brink of tumbling into the bay, the other tries very hard not to drop into a gutter or grind up against the wall of an old house. We walked into the first place that we liked the look of and got a big apartment with a complete kitchen and nice hot shower for 40 Euros.

Dinner was a disappointment of dry pork, the chief issue being that the menu said “pork with porcini mushrooms” and the dish came with a few slices of plain old button mushrooms. On her own trip to the Balkans our friend Vanessa recalls a cheese dish on a multi-lingual menu that was described as “cheddar” on the English menu, “brie” on the French menu and “gorgonzola” on the Italian menu… so I reckoned that trying to complain about the lack of “porcini” would just result in our waiter pointing out the mushrooms and thinking I was a crazy foreigner. Sigh. Even the arrival at our table of the most enormous hornet I have ever seen couldn’t save dinner. Seriously, it was the size of a pigeon. Maybe bigger.


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