A Day in Kotor Bay

Following on from what was the mushiest thing I’ve ever written, I hope we’ve all recovered from the fact that I’ll be featured in the next issue of Ripley’s Believe it or Not as one of those pretty peculiar people who marry countries and cars and sheep and the like.

Look out for me in the 2018 issue guys – page 219.

Now that I’ve made my love for Montenegro well and truly known to the world, let’s talk about what exactly led me to making this pretty huge statement shall we?


Kotor


Please don’t fact check me on this, but I’d hazard a guess that Kotor is one of the most popular places for visitors in Montenegro.

The Bay of Kotor, to be precise.

In popular culture Kotor is probably most well-known for being the setting of James Bond film Casino Royale. Except whereas the storyline was based in the area, none of it was actually filmed there. Go figure.

Outside of popular culture however, Kotor (specifically the Walled City) is known for having a lot of stray cats. Apparently there’s no logical reason for it, but stray cats seem to congregate in the town like it’s their own little cat-infested palace.

My grandmother visited Kotor years ago as part of a cruise and warned me about the insane amount of cats there but I thought surely she’s just exaggerating and there can’t be that many cats.

Well.

I took a hike up the mountain on my first day and may have interrupted a meeting between the Mayor of Cat Town and his minions, which was taking place in one of the old abandoned parts of the fortress.

It was a really really bizarre situation.

The Cat Mayor sort of looked at me, cocked his head to one side, gave me the evilest of evil glares then turned with a swish of his tail and walked away, followed in close succession by his gaggle of cat minions. They all gave me equally disapproving looks and one of them whipped me with his tail on the way past.

If looks could kill, I have been murdered by a cat gang.

There are so many cats there that they have a Cat Museum. A CAT MUSEUM! A whole museum about cats!!! It’s hidden away in one of the squares off of the main square in the Walled City but still, it exists. photo of cats museum in Kotor

I didn’t go in because a) I hate cats and b) it was closed (oh hello off-season travel!) but merely the knowledge that it’s there is good enough to make you fully appreciate just how many cats are in this town. So many cats.


The Old Town


When I think of the Old Town of Kotor, I think of Sims Medieval, Pirates of the Caribbean and A Knight’s Tale. Despite it being the 21st century and there being some very, very modern additions to the town, it still has an overpowering medieval feel to it.

The buildings are that aged yellow colour, kind of like the Sepia filter you used to get on those really old flip phones, the streets are narrow and the floor is cobbled or tiled the whole way through. Trust me when I say it’s a death trap in the rain.

Because I visited during off season there were barely any other tourists around and, I’m not sure if it’s the norm during the summer months, but the whole town seemed to go to sleep before 6pm. On my first night I ate a €2 slice of pizza for dinner because I just couldn’t find any restaurant that was open with other diners inside. The next night I resigned myself to taking advantage of the hostel’s bargain €4 dinner because I knew I just wouldn’t find anywhere else.

There’s hardly anything to do in the town if you don’t like casinos but I didn’t get bored.

Just walking around, getting lost in the winding alleys and dead-end streets was more than enough fun for me! And because the streets were so empty, it were as if I was the star of my own medieval fantasy.


Hiking the City Walls


The Old Town of Kotor is otherwise known as the Walled City because, yeah, it’s a little medieval town surrounded by walls. These walls, or fortifications, stretch all the way around and up, up, up into the mountains where there are some bloody fantastic views (and casual gatherings of cats) to check out.

I am not an enthusiastic hiker. In fact, I’m the furthest from an enthusiastic hiker you could possibly get. I am as unenthusiastic for hiking as I would be for putting pine needles in my eyes. I’ve never seen the enjoyment in going for what is more often than not a really long, monotonous walk through scenery that never changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who do enjoy hiking, but it’s not for me.

Give me the promise of a pretty view at the end, though, and I would hike the length of Russia barefoot with chains around my ankles.

The views from St John’s Fortress are more than worth the effort in this case, and the hike itself wasn’t actual so bad. Aside from the insane amount of steps and near-death experiences as a result of the serious lack of health and safety that seems to exist everywhere outside of the UK, it was positively pleasant!

There were walls to clamber over, old structures to explore and even an abandoned village.

And the views from the very beginning of the hike to the top of the fortress were incredible.

I ended up watching the sunset from the top of the fortifications, not due to forward planning or anything but because I’m really lazy and couldn’t be bothered to climb back down after reaching the top so sat and listened to the whole of Zac Brown Band’s album.

And you know what?

It was bloody fantastic.

I feel like there’s a lot more to be getting on with in Montenegro during the summer months – there are water sports in the bay, more hiking trails and probably more, but for my first taste of the Balkans, and for my first few days of complete and utter solitude (not including the nice Korean fella sharing my dorm room) in a long time, it was the perfect setting.

Kotor is definitely top contender for Ethel & Nancy’s retirement home.

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44 Comments

  1. 15th March 2017 / 11:08 am

    Love the feel of the photographs. The way you describe Kotor just brings it alive as I chuckle along. Topnotch retirement option I say 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      15th March 2017 / 3:54 pm

      Thank you! 😀 Yeah, right now it’s a toss up between Kotor and Belize, although Kotor may be heading a slight lead.

  2. 15th March 2017 / 11:42 am

    Love this! Glad you had a great time!

    • rhiydwi
      15th March 2017 / 3:53 pm

      Me too! Or I never would have forgiven you 😉

  3. LC
    15th March 2017 / 12:18 pm

    I’m with you on hiking. Ugh. Why. Pictures are great. I like moments like that when you’re all alone and you can just marvel at the glory of the place around you.

    • rhiydwi
      15th March 2017 / 3:53 pm

      Me too! Although I was briefly interrupted by a very hungover American girl who’d “gone for a walk to clear the Mary Jane out of her lungs”. Gotta love backpackers in Europe.

  4. 15th March 2017 / 5:42 pm

    “If looks could kill, I have been murdered by a cat gang.” I literally laughed out loud haha. Wow a whole museum dedicated to cats. I am not a fan of cats whatsoever so not sure if I would enjoy this…wonder is there is a dog one somewhere in the world? The fortress looks like it has so many stories to tell.

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:34 pm

      Nor am I! I’m almost as anti-cats as I am anti-hiking.

  5. 15th March 2017 / 6:23 pm

    I love the Balkans, especially the old towns, but have not been to Montenegro yet. Glad you enjoyed walking the empty, wuiet streets. Walking around in a new city, no plan in mind, is one of my favorite travel activities. Great post, will visit Kotor when I go to Montenegro 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:34 pm

      It’s one of mine too! Although in this case I had no other choice, everything was sooo quiet.

  6. 15th March 2017 / 6:29 pm

    Wow those pics are gorgeous! Montenegro is definitely on my bucket list. And kotor bay looks like a picturesque place

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:34 pm

      It is a really beautiful place 🙂

  7. 15th March 2017 / 7:42 pm

    Ooooo. Zac Brown Band with that view sounds perfect!

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:35 pm

      Are you a fan?! I saw them live on Sunday and they were soooo good! There’s not many people around here who’ve actually heard of them let alone like them!

      • 27th March 2017 / 4:29 pm

        Are you kidding me!? I love them! I saw them in concert for my (ex) best friend’s 21st birthday, where I got in my only fist fight and had my dad separate me from my provoker! Good times…

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:35 pm

      Thank you!

  8. 16th March 2017 / 10:17 am

    I am going to go to Kotor in May and can’t wait now after seeing your pics. I will be trying to avoid cats and won’t be going to the cat museum if its open!! Am going to hike up to fortress and maybe watch sunset from up there as it looks beautiful.

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:39 pm

      Ooh, I’m jealous! I totally don’t blame you for skipping out on the cat museum. I am most certainly not a cat person!

  9. 16th March 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Monetnegro is really coming up as a tourist destination and rightly so. The beauty is just breathtaking and Kotor looks so amazing from the up above the fortress. It’s good to know there are so many activities one can do in terms of water and hiking etc. As for cats, i’m not a cat person but don’t mind casually meeting one or two on the road, however from your experience, i’ll have to be on my paws when in Kotor.

  10. 16th March 2017 / 2:18 pm

    The sound of a city of stray cats sounds brilliant to me, a declared cat lover! I would probably don’t end up visiting anything because I would stop to cuddle every single cat that would step in my way, haha. It’s interesting to know that none of those movies have actually been filmed in Kotor. I wonder why… it looks like a very beautiful place to be in, even if the weather wasn’t the best when you visited.

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:40 pm

      See, I’m the complete opposite. Definitely a dog person 😉 My grandmother warned me against going near the cats because “they’re flea-bitten and will probably give you rabies” but they seemed totally healthy to me!

  11. 16th March 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Heard of Kotor before but wasn’t sure what country. “Looks That Kill” is a Motley Crue song! Although I’m not a hiker, I would enjoy hiking up to the old town. Makes me think of Quebec City.

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:40 pm

      I’ve never been to Quebec City, so that’s interesting to hear!

  12. 16th March 2017 / 5:21 pm

    I’m in love with the pictures! I would love to hike around The Old Town of Kotor. The view is so amazing from there!

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:41 pm

      It really is! Thank you for reading 🙂

  13. 16th March 2017 / 6:04 pm

    I have some crazy cat lady pals who might find Kotor interesting! In fact, it might be heaven for them! A CAT MUSEUM! I bet they’ll freak out when they hear about this. The Medieval Town looks really nice, and even nicer because you had it all to yourself. Beautiful pictures! And you’re right, the views from the City Walls are just so spectacular! Wow! That sunset shot is everything!

  14. Jackie Taylor
    16th March 2017 / 7:18 pm

    This is actually the first time i’ve ever heard of Kotor! It sounds like such an incredible destination, and all of your photos look great! I’m glad you had a nice time there. 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      16th March 2017 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you Jackie!

  15. 16th March 2017 / 8:55 pm

    Exactly how many cats were there when you saw the cat mayor? Lol. There were a lot of cats too all around Greece but not that much to make me tell someone to look out for the stray cats when they visit it. I’m not a huge cat lover too but I do like taking photos of them (to annoy them).

    I love Kotor and everything about it! Hopefully I’d make it there soon.

  16. 17th March 2017 / 1:19 am

    Great photographs! Thank you for sharing this. I have never been to the Balkans, and fortunately I have a RT ticket to go to Budapest in November this year, and thinking to explore down south to the area. After reading your post, I now consider going to Kotor for the occassion! Travel safe!

  17. 17th March 2017 / 1:31 am

    Montenegro has so much to offer, I did not know that. That cat museum is just hilarious, I would be really curious about it. Too bad you did not find proper restaurants in low season, but that saves you money for other things. 🙂

  18. 17th March 2017 / 1:45 am

    Kotor is beautiful. I really love St Johns fortress. For those views, I’d gladly make the climb too. Thanks for introducing this magic place.

  19. Carly Heyward
    17th March 2017 / 2:26 am

    I’m so glad that I stumbled across this! I’ve been to Kotor (well, I called it Cator) only for a day, and I wondered what it was like to stay there overnight! I agree that there doesn’t need to be action to not get bored! It truly does look like a lovely place to just wander!

  20. 17th March 2017 / 6:50 am

    Kotor is definitely my favorite in Montenegro! I’ve been there twice but just for few hours so i didn’t get chance to hike up the hill. I love your style of writing, it’s so nice to read you articles!

  21. 17th March 2017 / 11:39 am

    Whaaaaaaat???? That many cats!!! If you hadn’t quoted your granny I’d have thought you’re exaggerating!!! The fortress kinda looks just out of Game of Thrones! Btw, I do take up the hostel food when its available most often than not, just coz its easy!!!

  22. 17th March 2017 / 2:36 pm

    I really love the way you have described the town of Kotor and the lovely pictures you have captured. The cobbled streets and medieval architecture clubbed with deserted streets all make the place quite intriguing. watching the sunset over the town from the ruins should have been an amazing experience. Loved the way you have written about the cats. I would have really missed visiting the cats museum though.

  23. 17th March 2017 / 5:03 pm

    We went to Croatia in 2012 and wanted to go here…could not due to some visa issues. Your pics look so lovely that I wish we could have gone. So many cats….Well..in India, we have so many dogs 🙂 I love animals….so log as they are not the creepy crawlies! Were the cats friendly?

  24. 18th March 2017 / 1:00 pm

    To be honest I don’t know so much about Montenegro but after reading your post it makes me want to go there, at least to Kotor and also in the low season, fewer people, less noise even I would love to see the cat museum :p
    The pictures from your hike to the top are awesome.

  25. 19th March 2017 / 6:00 am

    Kotor Bay is stunningly beautiful. Your photos were amazing but I’m sure it looked better seeing it in real life. Love the old ruins you explored. Since this is a UNESCO site, I have this on my list!

  26. 19th March 2017 / 6:13 am

    Haha I actually love cats so much so I would have been spending a lot of time with them ☺ I also love hiking so this seems like a great spot for me. Also the emptier the better! Haha it is beautiful and kind of magical looking there.

  27. 19th March 2017 / 6:09 pm

    Kotor is beautiful and your photographs do complete justice to it. I loved the the old town. It feels so cinematic. And i cannot even get started commenting on the cat museum. Some guts the person who made it might have. And rest of the places too seem worth visiting.

  28. 20th March 2017 / 3:55 pm

    What a place. Old town seems too barren and abandoned but these pictures looks straight out of any horror movie based on Medieval era. Can feel the magic of this incredible destination through your post. I wish to travel there in my future.

    • rhiydwi
      22nd March 2017 / 11:38 pm

      Well, now that you mention it it does kind of look like that!

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