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Montenegro and the Adriatic Coast

November 16, 2010

Part two of my solo cruise sojourn took me to the Adriatic and the Balkans. The coastline was every bit as dramatic as the Amalfi Coast, particularly as the narrow entrance from the Adriatic opened onto the one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Rugged limestone cliffs stand sentinel to the striking waters of  “Boka Kototska” or the Bay of Kotor. The entrance is often called the “fjords” because of the similarity to the Norwegian coastline, although these nearly vertical coastal mountains were not of glacial origins, but are the result of tectonic action.

Our Lady of the Rock Church on the man-made island

At the deepest part of the bay, nestled into the rock wall is the medieval city of Kotor. With history dating back two centuries before Christ, it is now a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site. For countless generations, sailors, pirates, merchants and soldiers have trod the narrow cobblestone streets and it was controlled in turn by the Romans, Venetians, Austro-Hungarian Hapsburgs, Napoleonic French, English, and eventually Yugoslavia. Finally, in 2006, Montenegro established independence.

 

The ancient city walls blend into the mountain.

The ancient city walls encompass the old city and zigzag up the steep mountain in a two and a half mile loop. You must pass through the original city gates to get inside the walls, and you are met with a warren of narrow streets lined with shops and boutiques, restaurants, courtyards and churches. The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, with its earthquake damaged bell tower dates back to the mid 1100s and is one of the oldest churches in Europe. The Maritime Museum tells of the oceangoing history of Kotor and the Town Fountain, the main source of fresh water for the town for centuries, still stands in a small square.

One of the real benefits of booking an Azamara cruise through a Virtuoso member agency is the inclusion of complimentary amenities. Because Covington Travel is a Virtuoso member, I was invited on an exclusive shore excursion only for Virtuoso guests. Our group was driven up the mountain face which is so steep the road has 25 hairpin switchbacks to climb to the top.  We visited a tiny village at the top and the views of the sparkling bay and the Adriatic beyond were just spectacular. After that we descended the same perilous zigzag road and broke up into a couple smaller groups for an escorted walking tour through the charming old town.

the Church of St. Tryphon

Then the pièce de résistance was a visit to a local woman’s home where she served us local grappa, fresh homemade tarts and sweets and her own wine. Azamara Club Cruises emphasizes cultural immersion in their destinations and this special visit was a true treat that gave me a personal introduction to the local Montenegrin culture.

This segment of my first solo cruise was pleasantly augmented by the dramatic beauty of the Kotor and the excursion where I enjoyed meeting several charismatic local residents. I found I’m quite comfortable traveling solo, sometimes enjoying the company of others and sometimes enjoying my independent status. Have you had a similar experience? Please share in the comments. In part three, I’ll recount my solo cycling adventure on the last segment of the cruise.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Lou permalink
    November 16, 2010 11:51 pm

    Your description of the landscape is beautiful and makes me want to visit that beautiful bay.
    I did not know much about Montenegro and it’s history and you make me want to visit.

    • November 17, 2010 10:10 am

      Thanks Mary lou – it is a gorgeous place with delightful people. bI highly recommend visiting!

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  1. Sailing Solo, Cycling in Croatia & Addio to the Adriatic « Covington International Travel

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