Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro, located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. It’s a quaint little place but one where its very easy to lose oneself.
Welcome to Kotor, the No-Network Zone
We had reached Kotor from Dubrovnik in the evening, after sunset. As soon as we got off the bus at the Kotor bus station, we realised all our phones had stopped working. At least in Mostar, the backup phones were working, but here nothing, but thankfully I didn’t lose anything like in Zagreb, Croatia. This time I decided to let it be and deal with it once back in India and enjoy a no-network life for the time being. Once in Wi-fi zone and informing folks about my whereabouts I could breathe easy.
Because of network issue, we couldn’t call the host as they had told us to. They had written to us that once the cab drops us at the gates of the old town, we would have to walk to the hostel. Someone from the hostel would have to come to fetch us from the gate. But since phones weren’t working we decided to ask by the name and reach the hostel – Palazzo Drusko Deluxe rooms.
Kotor Bus Station to Old Town
We came out of the bus station and decided to take a cab. The cab driver asked for 10 euros but on being told its just 2km he came down to 5 euros. While two people were talking to the taxi guy, others tried asking the route from another lady crossing the road. She was trying to explain but she couldn’t explain coz of language problem. When she found out that we were paying 5euros, the old woman raised her eyebrows and was about to say something but the cab driver said something to her in their native language and after that she said 5 euros is ok.
As we got in the taxi, the guy just took one turn and said we have reached the old town gate. On being shown, where we have to go he took another turn and dropped us to another gate of the old town. Apparently, the old town has two main entry points
We then reached the hostel as it was one-minute walk and one left turn only. Just outside our hostel was a restaurant where live music was playing. It was nice and cosy so we decided to have dinner there after checking into hostel.
Checking into Palazzo Drusko Hostel
We reached our hostel and luckily there was staff to check us in. There was an Indonesian girl- Gia – to check us in. She was hospitable. They didn’t have a room for 4 but two rooms for 3+1. When she asked who would take single room and no one answered, I took the room.
It was on second floor and other room was in the attic- third floor. I took my luggage through the stairs. As the building was 600 years old, there was no provision for lift there. The room was nice and gave old world feel with transistor playing music, lamp and lots of old artifacts.
Each room had a name and mine was called monk’s room. The others’ room was called guest room.
Gia then got the tourist map and explained us things there itself- what to see, where to eat etc. On being asked what’s there to see apart from the forest, she said, “It’s best to get lost in the old town and explore.” Perfect Answer!
Then she showed us the other room and left us all to rest. The attic room was also very nice with wooden finish and tapered roof.
Dinner at Restoran Rendezvous
After putting our luggage and freshening up, we all went down for dinner to the restaurant Rendezvous with live music. We ordered a vegan sandwich, pizza, pancake, exotic sea food and local wine. The wine came in cute little bottles. The food was nice, music soothing and weather relaxing. Over all a good start to Kotor!
Time to call it a day
After that we all went to our rooms and retired for the day. I reorganised my bag and put the winter stuff and boots down as they were not needed anymore. And watched some TV. It was a welcome change.
Next morning, I woke up without hurry and without worrying about washroom time. What a luxury it felt! The other went up to the Kotor fort – 1355 steps up.
Day begins at Kotor Fort… Not for me though
I decided to give it a skip as all the forts had started seeming similar and wanted to explore the town beyond that – looking more at contemporary town than just historic. The whole of Kotor anyways has an old -world feel. It’s a place where time seems to stands still.
Introduction to Kuver Charges
Once all came back, a friend and I went down for coffee to Restaurant Rendezvous but decided to do breakfast only, as they took so long and we started feeling sitting there. We ordered coffee, juice, omelette and sandwich. The others joined us shortly after. We wanted to the pizza that we had ordered previous night – pizza sandwich but the chef was different, so ordered something close to it.
When the bill came, we found there was an extra charge – kuver. So, we asked and were told that that’s the table and cutlery charge. Now that was a first for us. Never ever have we heard of this charge. Are we supposed to carry our own cutlery and table in a restaurant? Also, this wasn’t charged us previous night during dinner.
Getting Lost in Kotor Old Town
Finally, we all set out to get lost in the old town of Kotor. It was a very small area and in half a day we finished checking out most shops and lanes. But its a place where you can keep walking and exploring shops, museums, buildings and people for long without a sense of time. We skipped museums.
Lunch at Dekaderon Restoran
Then we had lunch at restoran Dekaderon as it had vegetarian food on offer which said soup, salad, veg pasta or risotto for 10 Euro.
But as we sat there we were told the price was for any one dish and not Soup+ Salad+ pasta/risotto. Since we had already sat there, we decided to check the menu. On checking the menu, we found that maximum charge per dish (such as pasta) was 8.8 Euro as against 10 euro, so we ordered a la carte.
Kotor seems to have found unique ways of cheating the tourists. I ordered a beer and fruit cup which meant fruits and icecream but the waiter apparently forgot to put the ice cream, so he gave it separately on being asked. The other dishes ordered were spaghetti in red sauce and mussels’ soup. Over all the food was nice.
After that, while walking around, we had icecream at forza cafe- claimed to be the best dessert place in old town. But we found the ice creams average. After walking around for a bit longer, we decided to step out of old town and explore Kotor further and go towards the seaside.
Kotor beyond Old Town
We went to the shopping centre of Kotor- Kamilija. Even though small, it felt good to be in a slightly modern place.
On the way back, we went to the sea shore and spent some time there. It felt so good just being there.
In love with the hostel
Then as we came back I bought a cap and walking shoes – my first shopping of the trip till now. After that, we went back to the hostel to enjoy the lovely hostel for a while. I had fallen in love with the hostel and my room already.
Soon, it was dinner time so we decided to step out and go to restoran Estoria, as recommended by Gia.
Meeting Boyna at Hostel Reception
But before that we had to take printouts for next day’s bus tickets. So we spoke to Boyna – the girl at hotel reception that time to help us there. She came across as a fun girl, who was super excited and a little lost as she was taking next day off from work. It took her forever to take printouts. She told us Gia is the owner – basically she is married to the owner of the hostel. Boyna herself was married to a sailor who was away for 6 months out of which 4 were still to go so she was missing him badly. She talked non-stop. Finally, after half an hour and all the prints in hand, we went out for dinner.
Meeting Princess Diana of Montenegro
On the way, we got into a Jewelry shop where we met another girl – Diana. She called herself princess Diana of Montenegro. When she found out we are from India, she kept on saying namaste and how she loves Bollywood and Indian TV shows. On being asked, she told us namaste is called Zdravo in Montenegrin.
Dinner at Restoran Astoria
Finally, after two fun encounters in one evening, we reached restoran Astoria. We had to wait for long before the waited decided to come and take our order. We ordered, vegan mushroom soup, bruschetta, veg risotto and sea food risotto with cherry brandy and orange juices. The food was nice. He also gave us chilli flakes too when we asked. First time in all these days! We had baileys shot and tiramisu for dessert. Fully fed, we decided to call it a day.
Festival of Lights in Kotor
On the way back, we met princess Diana again and saw an event going in with projections of light on the wall. Apparently, so asked if the more is some event going on. Apparently, this was an event as part of Festival of Lights going on. So, we watched for a few minutes but then came back.
Fireworks in Kotor
After coming back, we packed for next day so that we don’t have to open the suitcase in Skopje. Since we would be there only for night and leave again by 6 the day after that, so we wouldn’t have much time to open suitcases etc.
As we were asleep, around midnight loud fireworks started and went on for a while. First, I got scared thinking some attack has happened but later realised it was celebratory fireworks with lots of cheering in background and went back to sleep.
Time to Check out from Hostel
Next morning, we checked out of the apartment and went for breakfast to AS Snack Bar, as suggested by Vladimir on the reception counter. We asked him about the fireworks and he told us that the fireworks were a private affair. Water sports club of Kotor had won some competition last night and were celebrating. It was a pleasant surprise to see some similarity with India – celebrations using fireworks.
Sundays are Fundays in Kotor Old Town
For breakfast we had pizza and pancake at AS Snack Bar. While we were having breakfast, 8 youngsters dressed in traditional attire came on the street and started dancing. They were well synchronised and had kept a donation box too. It was nice to watch them perform. We were told that they were students and do this on regular basis during weekends.
After breakfast, we went to local vegetable market, right outside the old town, to pick up fruits for the bus journey. This was along one so had to be prepared. After that we came to hostel, picked our bags and walked to the bus station as the cabs were overcharging still. Also, now we knew its not that far plus it was daytime.
Another creative way of making money at Bus Station
As we reached bus station and enquired about the bus, we were charged another 2 Euro per person as station charges. This place seems to have devised some unique ways for extracting money from tourists. When, the bus came, we were charged another Euro per person as luggage charges. By now, we had decided anything is possible in this country.
Finally, we set out to the journey to Skopje driving thru lovely countryside. We would also be crossing Albania and Kosovo before reaching Skopje in Macedonia.
Kotor To Skopje
It was a basic bus for long distance inter-country travel with no wifi, tv screen, coffee machine, etc. There was a WC but not functional. After two hours the bus suddenly filled up and all our luxury of comfortable seating was also over.
At Albania, our passports were checked but not stamped.
On the way we were joined by a family with two young kids- one who kept crying for most of the way. We stopped on the way around 5pm for a break but unfortunately, they had nothing veg to eat so we survived on coffee and chips.
Then we crossed Kosovo border and our passports were stamped there. After crossing Kosovo border the bus stopped again for dinner.
The Most Difficult Dinner of the Trip
We all had veg sandwich but it was such a task to explain anything to restaurant staff as they didn’t understand what we were asking for. It was quite hilarious and we all came back with a smiling experience. With a team of 6 people ranging from 50 years to 15 years, we tried explaining to all and it took almost 20 minutes for the first sandwich to be readied. Then it got easier as we had to tell them we want same. But language barrier can be such a difficult thing in Europe.
Our bus was running late by almost two hours. As we reached Macedonia finally at 10.30pm, we tried calling London B&B where we had booked our stay. Despite check-in time till 8pm they let us come. We got a taxi for 5 Euro that dropped us at the hotel. He insisted that he can drop us to Thessaloniki tomorrow and it was difficult to make him understand that our tickets were already booked. But when we asked him if he can come to drop us to bus station in the morning at 5, he refused saying too early. Hahahaha!
The room was booked for three people but since we would be leaving early morning at 6 am without breakfast, they adjusted the fourth person without any extra charge.
Oh, What a View!
As we came to our room and saw the view of the old town square from there it was lovely so we decided to go down and take a walk. It was lovely walk with nice weather and good lighting around the buildings. The buildings were being restored in old architectural styles which was nice. Also there were many statues and fountains adding to the scenic view of the place. But alas we were in Skopje only for a few hours as we had another bus to catch in the morning at 6 am.
In the morning, we asked the hostel reception person to help us with a cab to bus station for Thessaloniki in Greece. He called a cab which charged us 2.5 Euro to drop us to bus station. We were there by 5.30. Once again, we had to pay bus station charges. Finally we got in to the bus at 6 am and were off to Greece, our final country of the trip. Our bus service was Macedonia-soobrakaz.
Greece, here we come!
It was a nice journey but the country side wasn’t as good as what we had gotten used to but that’s ok. We were thinking about Greece.
And, then we finally entered Greece as our passports were stamped.
Greece, here we come!