Making friends

Trip Start Jul 04, 2009
Trip End Jul 19, 2009

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Flag of Serbia and Montenegro  ,
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Woke up this morning to oppressive humidity as we slowly slid down Europe's southernmost fjord. Remnants of the former Yugoslavia's military bases still cling to the coastline, with submarine storage carved back at the shoreline and look outs on the densely forested hillside. Buildings look distinctly different, with their red clay tile roofs.

Montenegro coast    Montenegro coast    Montenegro coast   

Close to Kotor we circled around Our Lady of the Rock, a monastery built on a manmade island, which was created over the past 5 centuries as locals rowed out and drop rocks as part of a ceremony every July.  At the sound of the ship horn, the church bells began to ring and the nuns walked out, waving fabric. Residents of the town across the bay came to their windows, waving their dish towels, blankets, laundry pulled off the line. Everyone stood, waving, until the ship was long passed, and it was the most touching, amazing contact we've had.

Our Lady of the Rock    Our Lady of the Rock    Montenegro coastline


Once docked, we took a bus tour up the 25 serpentine hairpin turns that lead above the city. To say it was a one-lane road is a bit of an exaggeration, as the bus barely fit and yet people were coming the other direction. Without exception, each passenger in the oncoming car was clutching a map in their left hand and the doorhandle with their right.

serpentine road    Kotor    high above Kotor    view above Kotor    need auto help?

Stopped at a local restaurant to try their procutto, cheese, and wine, then met the owner at his home where he showed where he keeps the meat as it cures. The smoke had so deeply penetrated the walls that the smell of smoked meat clung to us for the next hour. With just a few drops of beer behind the ears, finding a man would be no problem.

montenegro    trying the local fare    farmland    WWII memorial    selling proscutto out of your house    the smokehouse   

restaurant owner in his smokehouse    proscutto hanging overhead

From there it was southeast over the rocky mountains to the previous capital, which consisted of generally unimaginative buildings, stocky and plain, and many people felt it was cold and inviting. Again, I had an opportunity to wish I was traveling on my own, as we passed a cemetery, where the headstones had the images of the deceased etched into the black onyx and interesting tops, such as stars with communist insignia and most interestingly, a silver plane, headed downward. Turning west toward the beachfront the guide pointed out the luxury hotels and named famous people who had come to stay there (tom cruise! madonna! pamela anderson!) Aside from starsightings, not much information was passed along by the guide, though she was clearly upset that Montenegro was being left out of political decision making & felt they had been unfairly punished with sanctions during the war.

old capitol   

The 99% humidity finally broke when it started to rain, and the evening cooled down. The bartender was kind enough to give me my own bottle of champagne to take to dinner, and, as I jokingly took a swig from it, I was obligated to drink the rest of it during dinner, where we celebrated H's birthday, all on my own. Perhaps unfortunately, this is not a difficult task, but it had the result that I was not in the least interested in heading to bed at the designated time. Fortunately, I was able to round up some likeminded companions and we investigated the only club in town, Maximus, which according to wikipedia is the largest in Montenegro. It was packed, so I can only believe that nearly half the country and every tourist was there. Here is what I learned: when a place is dark & crowded and people are really drunk, they are not good judges of age. As a result, I currently have nice young boyfriends who have invited me to visit them in their hometowns of Amsterdam, somewhere in Croatia, and possibly Germany, but it was too hard to hear.
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