OUR LADY OF THE ROCK

Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
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Trip End Oct 15, 2012


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Our Lady of the Rock Church on the boat tour and the old town

Flag of Montenegro  , Opština Kotor,
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Up at 0100 for a slash. Let's blame it on the second beer. A steady stream of nocturnal exits from the room, all contributing to a poor second half sleep, along with the rain falling on the plastic roof vent. The goofiest alarm clock naturally goes to Bozo Ben of Mr and Mrs Geek fame for one sounding like an air drill siren.

The others mostly packed and left while I took the chance to do a few minutes of the diary. The guys beat the girls again. Zsolt said Ostrog Monastery is the only place it is guaranteed people are on time to leave. Nice baseball cap on Ms Summer this morning.

Our driver [from yesterday] was 6M late but all packed and off by 0555, heading down the other way on good road. He drove as fast as he could, probably making a few nervous. The morning drizzle is looking ominous for any afternoon boat ride in Kotor.

At the bus station in the capital city of Podgorica by 0647. Gave Arjan 20 E for Montenegro expenses to date [monastery meals and am transfer]. Our tour leader was in 'zip zip Zsolt' form again, directing us about, Jill almost perplectic if she could not have some brekkie [all sorted as brekkie options on the 'token' side too]. Asked for a hot chocolate and got a chocolate pudding heated up instead 2.3 E, all part of the fun of travel.

Boarded a small bus and off at 0723. Didn't realize Zsolt has an interest in a Nepalese travel company. We chatted about some treks there. Kathmandu has changed ie little electricity and reduced bar hours under the Communists. He got a call from the Kotor hotel and is getting his usual room. I quipped if it was the presidential suite and he said 'I deserve it'.

The fog was lifting, revealing some agricultural lands but it is still pretty hilly country. The Adriatic Sea was on our left. We stopped in Budva at 0851, a place full of hotels owned by the Russian mafia per Zsolt. He told the story of a Russian denied entry to an island resort so he bought the island!

This is evidently a resort coast. We reached Kotor at 0928, nestled amongst some mountains in a bay. We were at the bus station 2M later and whisked to the Hotel Marija 2 by taxi, about a 5M ride. Our rendezvousis at 1130 re walking to town, having lunch and getting supplies for the boat ride. Swimming is an option.

Could not get the internet to work. Took a shower in a tub [not my favourite set up]. Nobody at reception re wifi. Updated the diary to the present and organized my backpack for the boat trip ie dumping stuff out of it.

Group walk at 1130. The local waters are crystal clear. Stopped at Caffe Pizzeria Mondo for a repast, sharing a Montenegro pizza with Zsolt [smoked ham the main feature and large, cut tomato slices as an odd garnish]. Nice light banter. John is a bit of a wag. I sorted the bill so went quite expeditiously 10 E [nice little pat on the back there]. Everyone but Arjan had pizza and only our fearless leader and yours truly picked the pizza up to eat it; even Madame Nathalie used a knife and fork, prompting me to tell Ian that was not the Canadian way!

I suggested to Arjan with his core lime green swimming trunks he might be arrested by the fashion police, getting me a 'fuck off', akin to his favourite expression of 'dilligaf...do I look like I give a fuck?'.

Walking toward the old city, Zsolt pointed out hiking options above the city. The Thomson Majesty cruise ship aka SS Rose was in town with its boat people.

Into another World Heritage Site, Roddy, the old town of Kotor. A short ATM tour began. There were enough geezers in the area, being in all likelihood 'boat people'. This town will have ample photo ops tomorrow. Zsolt pointed out the area to begin the hiking.

Off to get supplies before the boat ride for just our Intrepid group [unfortunately too many in the group are not intrepid Intrepid people]. Picked up a bottle of rum and a large Coke 13 E. Out of the simplicity of things, Arjan and I have been working under a system of one pays for some items and then the other catches up or hands over cash to clear the books.

Short boat departure delay for three pissers and off at 1409. The main western gate of the old town of Kotor dates from 1555. The Royal Clipper tall ship was heading out, resplendent with its many masts. We had been trying to estimate her mast height at lunch.

Leaving the inner harbour, we passed a small 10th century church. St Matthias Church was on land on our R. Even the locasl were taking pictures of the Royal Clipper as it surged past us.

Next was a short swim for all saving the boring hangovers and the Dutchman. Dutchie, you wear a swimsuit and don't use it? He took the opportunity to invade the rum supply. Salty water but good fun for the 7 of us that went in.

Passed between two islands. The first was natural, home to a 9th century red roofed church. The second was a man made island. The legend of Our Lady of the Rock Church is something like this: two fishermen were on the water and they came across an icon of the Virgin Mary. The town was eventually instructed to build her a church where the icon was found. On July 22, 1452, townspeople began dumping rocks into the water, eventually leading to the present 3,020 square meter land formation. Every July 22nd, local fishermen head out to the island and place more rocks.

The church itself is small but quite pretty. We had a guided tour, the lady quite interested in passing on information. Only 1% of Montenegro is Roman Catholic, a small base in a country of just 650,000 people.

We headed over to the town of Perast. I had a cappuccino 1.6 E at the Hotel Conte waterside restaurant whereas Rachel had some sort of chocolate drink that appeared to be as thick as Alberta tar sands goo: another clusterfuck for Rachel.

The captain had lots of tidbits of information and readily answered any inquiries. Kotor used to be the capital of present day Montenegro in days of yore. Waterfront properties go for about a million euros. Tourism was very good this year but still some 25% below levels before the 2008 economic mess.

The sun was setting on our return. Somebody had cracked Arjan's plastic glass so when I poured him a rum and coke it started to leak. Trying to finish it, he got as much on his face, jacket and swimmers than in his mouth. We had sunset on the boat albeit same was largely behind a hill on an island.

Nathalie took a turn at the helm. When Arjan asked Rachel to join her, the expected sourpuss response. Pity those on a forthcoming southeast Asia tour, having to put up with her for a month whereas I just have to for another couple of days. Our captain docked the boat very close to the hotel which was nice 52 E [two boat tours (25 E per] and two church entry fees (1E per)].

Arjan yet again suggested to the boring hangovers to knock on the door if they wanted to go out for dinner. Not unexpectedly, no knock. Filled the time until about 1930 getting up yesterday's blog.
It was some 25M before we got to the old town. Walking about, Arjan was not too amused to see the boring hangovers some distance in front of us. He was not interested in catching up with them in the circumstances.

Had dinner at Konuba Kantum in a little square. Tried a Toceno draft which did not stand out. Ate outside but the temperature was fine, dropping over the hour. Arjan certainly would have liked more group camaraderie but c'est la vie. I related after awhile I get tired of trying to make conversation with the Rachels of this world and then by and large ignore them on a trip. I had the stuffed [with, yup, smoked ham] squid, sharing same with usually 3 or 4 cats, all well behaved, waiting for a scrap, the one often sitting down as if at rest. They could not have been too hungry as bread was not a welcome treat.

Walking back, saw the Aussies in another square. Arjan got disoriented re a circle route but we eventually exited another exit somewhat further away. We caught up to Ian and Jill at the hotel. Too tired to do the diary [yet alone drink so really tired] but still not lights out until a bit before 2330.

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