Mon Oct 15, 2001 | day 35
Ok, now where did I leave off? I forgot when I last talked to you. It has been such an amazing last few days, I guess I will just concentrate on telling you about them.
I heard about the city of Kotor, Montenegro (Yugoslavia) in my heafty "five pound traveler's bible," Lonely Planet Europe. Usually packed with information on even small towns of Europe, it just had just 29 words to say about Kotor. It's first six words reeled me in - hook, line and sinker:
"Kotor is something of a secret."
Kotor is a walled city located on the edge of Europe's largest fjord. It sits precariously perched on the Bay of Kotor as 3,000 foot mountains jet out of the ground. The Colorado-like mountains surround the area as if God Himself wanted to keep this place hidden from the rest of the world.
I am staying in my very own apartment in the middle of the old town for $10 a day. The place, which is bigger than the apartment I was in at home, has an outstanding view of the area through 5 windows. Even the small bathroom window shows a view that could sell as a postcard.
Today I took a day-trip up the large bay to the small city of Perast. (So small, in fact, it didn't have a single open resturaunt, supermarket, or business!) Although the city itself is nothing extraordinary, Perast's two islands just a mile off the coast are a little puzzling to foreigners. At first glympse on the busride in, I had to rub my eyes and look at the islands again. They do not raise more than FOUR FEET above the sea level and are just large enough to each house a small monestery. The only way to get to the sacred islands is by boat... or to swim.
Anyone care to take a guess which route I took?
Correct! A traveling buddy and I took a long look at the islands, judged their distance away from the shorline, and jumped right into the not-too-cold Adriatic Sea and swam the mirror-like waters to the small islands! As I swam, I couldn't help but try to keep my eyes above water so I didn't miss any of the impressive surroundings. UNESCO lists Kotor and this area as one of the World's Natural & Cultural Heritage sites. In fact, Kotor houses one third the total monumental fund of Montenegro.
I let out a big "YELP," waking up the sleepy towns along the water only for a moment. I wanted to see how far my echo would go. I heard my voice repeat 5 times off of the mountains, the last one after a 4 second delay.
In Kotor, there is a great and powerful city wall. So strong, in fact, it survived a devistating 11.0+ earthquake in 1979. The walls not only surround the city along the water but also climb high up into the clif-like mountain behind it. On Sunday, I spent a whole afternoon climbing to the top of the wall - to the ruins of the Fortress of St. John.
Indiana Jones would have been jealous if he could have seen me. Snakes and lizards sunbathed on the broken stone stairs. I think that Kotor is the place where colorful birds come to retire. At the top, mountian goats pleasantly munch away at the green grass and undergrowth covering the ruins. I found a place to sit along the fortress - my feet dangled off of a ledge that dropped 1,000 feet to the city below. I could see for at least 30 miles to the surrounding mountains and their reflection in the blue-green waters.
This really is paradise on earth.
I wish you could all be here to experince this with me. I know that things in the U.S are heating up, but don't loose sight of what YOU want to do with YOUR life. Don't let someone else terrorize you and tell you how to live.
PS - Try to keep Kotor a secret, ok? I am the only one of three foreigners here right now. :-)
Love you all,