The first stop on my 10-day Seabourn Spirit cruise on the Adriatic was Kotor, Montenegro. I’d never heard of Kotor so needless to say, I didn’t know quite what to expect. But I’d had dinner with the Captain the previous evening and he’d given me a small sense of the beauty that awaited us upon our arrival. And he wasn’t joking.
After hours at sea with nothing in sight but water, our approach into Kotor was breathtaking. The limestone mountains seemed to rise from the sea, dotted with the terra cotta rooftops of houses along the coast.
The Bay of Kotor is one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea and the curves of the coastline make it pretty and picturesque. The old town in Kotor is especially well preserved, one of the most preserved of all the towns lining the Adriatic in fact, and is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
Visitors to Kotor’s old town are greeted at the entrance with a carving that reads: “What belongs to others we don’t want, what is ours we will never surrender.” The medieval old town reminded me of the setting of various fairy tales I’d read as a child; I had my eyes peeled for a prince or an evil queen at the very least. I loved the centuries-old, winding, narrow streets.
Wandering the streets of the old town is a must but even before you do that, I suggest climbing the mountain that provides the impressive backdrop of Kotor. The climb consists of some 1,500 steps and it’s a demanding walk. Do it early in the day before the afternoon sun gets too hot and be sure to wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat. And don’t forget to bring lots of water. Locals sell water along the way if you forget. When you reach the top of the citadel, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Kotor. The mountains, the peaceful waters of the bay and the old town below make a postcard-perfect picture. On your way down the mountain, be sure to go slowly and hold on to the railings. It’s steep and many of the stone steps are slippery from wear; it’s easy to lose your footing.
The other great thing about climbing the mountain is that from way up there, it was easy to get a lay of the land and spot beaches where my fiance and I could go cool off when we got back down to the bottom.
The beach we found was a small pebble beach. The turquoise water was warm and inviting. A long swim was just what we needed to cool off after our hike in the hot sun and to work up an appetite for a fresh lunch back on the boat.
As Seabourn Spirit departed Montenegro, we passed a small church standing solitary on a small island in the bay. Our Captain had mentioned that he has a tradition of blowing the ship’s horn as he passes; if the local priest is there, he will ring the church bells in response. As we sailed by, the ship’s horn blew and we awaited an answer. And then it came. The church bells rang out loud and clear and as I soaked in that moment, in the most glorious natural surroundings, I felt God’s presence as sure as the warm summer breeze on my skin.