Day 1 Perast Montenegro

THURSDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2012.

ULCINJ TO PERAST

The Ulcinj apartment was about three kilometres from the bus station and up hill so we had no alternative but to take a taxi.  I suppose we could have walked but we would have had to leave in the dark and then we didn’t know where the bus station was.

The first leg of the journey today was the bus from Ulcinj to Kotor.  The trip was very scenic and we soon recognised some of the places we travelled in1972.

No hand drawn map today. I thought this poster I photographed would suffice. We came in from Ulcinj off to the right to Budva and on to Kotor then Perast.  Perast is just to the right of the furthermost bay in the middle of the photograph.

At Kotor we left our bags at the bus station and went exploring. There were two cruise ships in and their passengers added to the tourist throngs.  Tourists or no, we had to walk the waterfront and also the old town as in 1972 it was shrouded in heavy fog and we didn’t see anything.

The first thing that struck me when we arrived in Kotor was the fortifications above and around the town.

The protective city wall snaking up the ridge above the town.

The old city wall was built by the Venetians in the 15th century.  When I look at such a structure all I see is hard work. I see men labouring to get the rocks to the wall site and struggling to get them into position.

Along the waterfront there were some new, old and practical vessels moored. Being a boat lover every one needed close inspection.

Sail assisted cruise ship Wind Surf.

Bow of Wind Surf.

· Gross Tonnage: 14,745  · Length: 617 feet   · Passenger Capacity: 312

· Number of Crew: 163   · Officer Nationality: British and Norwegian

Wind Surf under sail. Photograph from the Wind Surf official web page.

I’m not into cruises myself, however if I could afford it I would go on Wind Surf because it must be good for the environment and it is one of the few ships in the world where passengers are allowed to go on the bridge (when the ship is not carrying out docking procedures).  If you want to read more about this unique vessel there are a number of web pages at your disposal.

Shrouds and chain plates of an older sailing vessel. This photograph is for my friend Raymond, the rigging expert.

A practical live aboard vessel registered in Hamburg.

In my next life I want to build a boat like this. This beautiful vessel is, surprisingly, listed on the Airbnb accommodation website.  Airbnb is a worldwide accommodation booking site.  All you do is type into the site the town you want to stay and you are provided with a list including prices of private homes to stay in.  According to the current listing this vessel is owned by Jens & Annette and you can stay aboard for as little as $43 per night.  The Airbnb listing number is 190313, just in case some blog readers are looking for an unusual accommodation experience.

The first mention of Kotor was in 168 BC during Ancient Roman times.  Since then a lot of people have trodden the alleyways and passageways.

Bev, making friends, with a couple of young Kotor residents.

The parapet on the inside of the city wall.

I went up onto the parapet here to look out the loopholes but couldn’t stay long as the wall is used as the local urinating spot.  There is a distinct shortage of toilets and then when you find one you have to pay so obviously some males go looking for a free one.

A church under restoration.

Just prior to taking this photograph a young gruff worker yelled ‘no photo, no photo!’.  Saying that to me has the opposite effect.  I took the photo.  A young lady nearby, overhearing the no photo call, stepped in front of me and indicated I could take her photo instead. She was a shop assistant in a shop nearby.

Thankyou, whoever you are.

As is often the case, I find the small detail interesting and following are a few of my finds.

Airing the bedding.

Airing the bedding in damp climes is essential.  Most airing and drying of washing is done on clotheslines strung high between buildings. Bev is reluctant to string her washing on clotheslines hanging three or more floors above the ground.

It’s not the drying bed sheets that interest me here. It’s the stone projections at the top and bottom of the window that beg me to ask what they were for.  I have seen them on other occasions and as of yet have been unable to fathom what they are for. Maybe a steel rod was passed through the holes to which chains or a steel door was attached.  I asked a number of locals but they didn’t know.

Old wall with window projections.

I’m not sure if a sill was placed on the lower projections.  The reason I say I’m not sure is that I saw not one anywhere with a sill in place.  If any reader can enlighten me as to what the projections are I would appreciate it.

T Bear checking out the mysterious projections.

Counterweights for an old door lifting mechanism in Kotor old town. Note what appears to be a bullet indent in one of them.

Nice door.

Nice cat at the bottom of the nice door.

Amazingly, I’m warming to cats.  In the Australian countryside cats are a definite no as they have, and still are, causing much harm to our environment. However in their place they are OK.  For instance, if I lived on a boat I would have a cat as they keep rodents and sea gulls at bay, they know well before the barometer starts to fall that a storm is brewing (they go to their bolt hole) and, as well, they are good company.

After our touristic experience in Kotor we caught a bus to Perast.  In 1972 we stayed in Perast overnight in a room in a private house and it has remained one of our most pleasant memories, so I think this time it is going to hold us longer.

The bus driver dropped us above the town.  We stood looking down onto the town and out across the Bay of  Kotor. Both had not changed since 1972 except for the new housing development creeping up the hill across the bay.

View across the Bay of Kotor from the road. The island on the left is St George Island and the one on the right is Our Lady of the Rock.

 Our Lady of the Rock Island is particularly interesting given that it is the only artificially built island in the Adriatic.  It was built upon a rock after two Venetian sailors from Perast found a picture of the Virgin Mary on it in 1452.

From the bus stop we had to get down into the town centre, about sixty metres below.  After a couple of false starts we eventually found a narrow steep staircase leading we hoped to the bottom and not into a private doorway.  The stairway was not wheelie bag friendly so we converted our bags to backpacks and made our way to the bottom.

Heading down into Perast.

The view from part way down our descent.

The stairway down emerged into the courtyard of the Hotel Conte and there we had lemonade.  Lemonade here is fresh squeezed lemon juice in water with sugar on the side, which you add to suit your own individual taste.  Unfortunately you have to add a lot of sugar to get it sweet enough to drink.

The bus stop where we were dropped was up near the head of the statue on the right.

The above photograph was taken from the hotel courtyard.

 

As we supped on our lemonade and pondered our next move I kept looking up at the statues towering over us.  I wondered how the sculptors managed to get such emotional expressions on the faces of the church guardians. Look into their eyes and you will see what I mean.  I don’t know how they did it. All I can say is ‘bloody amazing’.

The waiter who served us was interested in where we came from. He didn’t see us come out of the narrow staircase opening between the church and the hotel.  We showed him the page in my original diary relating to when we were here in 1972.   The waiters reaction was ‘Oh my God, I wasn’t born then!’.  On a couple of occasions when we have told young people about our adventures they all look at us and try to fathom how old we are.  Guesses for my age range between fifty and sixty and when I tell them my birth year (1941) they look at me in disbelief that I’m still able to lug a backpack and rough it.

The 1972 entry in my original diary for the 2nd December 1972.

The entry says: The night of the 2nd spent in a private zimmer, cost $1-50 each for the night.  A real pirate town Perast with little lanes and ruins.  Rain most of the day.

FOR Breakfast- ham, cheese on the move.

Lunch- café- beef soup, ham and eggs.

Dinner- cheese, wine & coffee, in room of zimmer.

The aim this time in Perast is to find the two spots where the B & W contact prints at the top right of the 1972 diary page were taken.

After refreshments the next thing was finding accommodation so I left Bev with the luggage and went hunting.  I was hoping the zimmer where we stayed in 1972 might still be operational. I remembered vaguely what the house looked like but thought my chances of finding it pretty slim.  I thought I found the original place but it was closed and shuttered for the winter.

The only person I saw during my hunt for accommodation.

The town was quiet and the only place where there was any movement was the fire station. I asked a big burly bloke there if he knew where we might find a room in a private house.  He immediately said ‘I have room’.  The cost was 20 euros a night ($24 Aus) for two.  After getting directions I told him about our 1972 stay and was met with the same ‘Oh my God’ reaction. He called to a half dozen other firemen who all came and inspected my old diary.

The apartment has a huge bathroom with shower and bath, a kitchen, a king sized bed and balcony that faces straight up the Bay of Kotor. It even has grapes hanging over the balcony ready for eating.  And yes, one resident cat.

The fireman (Cico) and his wife (Mirela) were extra friendly and helpful and we couldn’t have asked for more.  This is probably the best location and apartment we are going to find on our odyssey.

The balcony.

The view straight ahead.

The view to the right.

View to the left. This is the wall of the museum, built in 1694 in the Baroque style. Note the original colour of the limestone under the protection of the balcony.

Baroque style architecture began in the late sixteenth century in Italy.  At the time it expressed the triumph of the Catholic Church and the absolutist state. It was characterized by new explorations of form, light and shadow and dramatic intensity such as in the balcony handrail in the photograph above.

The whole of Perast is considered to be Baroque and because it has a world heritage listing, any renovations or building has to conform to the style.  Bev and I spoke to a local who was carrying out internal renovations. He invited us inside a small house to inspect his work and when leaving he offered us the place for 900 000 euros (Aus$1 098 000). I think if I had that sort of money to spend on real estate I would want a bit more space.

The cheeky resident cat cleaning out the empty butter bean tin. Good one, Sara and Kate?

Living area of our room.

Ample-sized bathroom.

Wind Surf slips out of Kotor past our balcony in the night.

 Not far from Cico and Mirela’s place we found what I thought was the private house we stayed in in 1972.  I’m not completely sure but I remember how two narrow walls lead to the doorway and the car was parked in between. Will search tomorrow.

Perast is very quiet at night, not a sound other than the bark of a distant dog and the chime of a bell from across the bay.

About tbeartravels

It's been said that I know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about little things. I hope I can share some of this knowledge with you as we travel.
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