Tag Archives: Croatia

A to Z of Balconies – Korčula in Croatia

Korčula is like a scaled down version of Dubrovnik with the same white Dalmatian stone buildings and red tiled roofs but sadly it is completely eclipsed by its more famous close neighbour and there has been little investment since the 1990s war that split old Yugoslavia apart.  Dubrovnik was the priority after that but the local authorities are now campaigning for Korčula Old Town, which is a gem of Venetian architecture to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

 

On This Day – Kotor in Montenegro

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 13th June 2010 I was visiting the city of Kotor in the Balkan country of Montenegro…

Kotor Postcard

The border crossing between Croatia and Montenegro is not without considerable difficulty and lengthy delays because these two are uneasy neighbours (Montenegran Troops were responsible for the siege of Dubrovnic) and it all a bit officious but once through in front of us we could see the black mountains and after we passed through the busy and rather untidy outskirts of the city of Herceg Novi the road reached the sea and started to follow the winding coast line of the picturesque Bay of Kotor.

Once in this new country the first stop came quite quickly at a lay-by with a good view both east and west and looking across to the Italianate town of Perast, once an important independent Venetian ship building town but now rapidly becoming a modern tourist trap.

There was a small market and a jewellery stall in one corner of the lay-by and while Kim looked at sparkly things on chains I examined an information board about the Bay.  In the middle were about twenty clear holes about the thickness of a pencil and on closer examination I realised that they were bullet holes.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end because whoever had been using the sign for target practice was clearly a very good shot and it occurred to me that I could be in the cross-hairs of someone’s rifle sights even as I stood there.

I was beginning to become aware that Montenegro might be rather different to anywhere else that I had been before and I wasn’t inclined to hang around any longer than necessary so I encouraged Kim to hurry up and leave without a purchase and we carried on  without further delay around the bay.

There are strict driving rules in Montenegro but these don’t seem to apply to local people and my use of the road was continuing to irritate people and several times I was tooted and invited to pull over by motorists using hand signals that you won’t find in the Highway Code but I didn’t let this intimidate me and I continued sedately on, pulling over whenever I could to let agitated motorists pass me by.

Kotor 02

Eventually we arrived in Kotor without further incident and I found it much bigger than I imagined it would be from the descriptions in the travel guides and there was a six deck, two thousand passenger cruise liner tied up at the dock which was so huge it dwarfed the town and looked sadly out of place.  I may have mentioned this before but I really do not like these cruise ships.

At 35º centigrade it was extremely hot so we were pleased to go through the main gate of the old town and into the shaded cooler streets inside, Kim because she was out of the sun and me because she had stopped complaining about it.

It was busy inside because Kotor old town is quite small with a population of about five and a half thousand and it was playing host to the holidaymakers from the cruise liner and hundreds of others as well which temporarily more than doubled the population.

Once again there was a distinct Italianate feel because the old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by an impressive city wall that was built by Republic of Venice and the Venetian influence remains dominant among the architectural styles around the main squares and up and down the tight twisting streets.

Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site and inside the walls the narrow sinuous streets took us past little picturesque shops, cafés, bars, antique monuments and cream stone buildings, balconies overflowing with billowing flowers, washing lines full of immaculate laundry and the overwhelming smell of laundry powder and fabric conditioner.

Kotor Washing Line

The old town of Kotor is wedged in between the rugged Bay and at the foot of the imposing Lovćen massif mountain range directly under overhanging limestone cliffs of the mountains Orjen and Lovćen.  At the back of the town there was an entrance to a demanding walk up the vertical mountain to visit the city walls but today it was too hot for us to even consider tackling it especially in flimsy sandals on slippery stones and paths with warnings of danger clearly signposted.  So we made do with admiring it all from sea level and then slipped back into the maze of streets and looked for a bar away from the blistering heat of the unrelenting sun which was reflecting off the buildings and radiating around the paved squares and open spaces.

Kotor wasn’t quite what we were expecting it has to be said and we found it untidy and scruffy, the cruise ship spoilt it in a way because the old town was overcrowded and the hulking mass of the ship destroyed the charm of the seafront and the harbour.  The cafés and bars were more expensive than I imagined they would be, certainly pricier than in Croatia, but I thought the old town was nice enough and we sat in the shade in a corner of one of the small squares and drank  a Montenegrin beer called Niksicko, which despite its rather unpromising name was really quite nice.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Fazana Croatia Sunset

In the sky the late sun and some occasional clouds were beginning to assemble into an impressive sunset ensemble like a bonfire in the sky and with Kim’s magic camera (if you remember, it can capture a sunset even if there isn’t one) it seemed certain that we would be able to get some good pictures.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

Avila Spain

Greek Pots

Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Move

Fazana Croatia Sunset

In the sky the late sun and some occasional clouds were beginning to assemble into an impressive sunset ensemble like a bonfire in the sky and with Kim’s magic camera (if you remember, it can capture a sunset even if there isn’t one) it seemed certain that we would be able to get some good pictures.

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A Life in Ruins – Roman Amphitheatre at Pula, Croatia

Pula Croatia

The flights to Pula were an irresistible bargain at only £16 return, which effectively meant that they were being subsidised by Ryanair because we didn’t even have to pay the full Government flight taxes.  Sitting next to us was a couple from Kenilworth who had an impressive capacity for drinks from the sky-bar.  They loaded up with beers and whiskey on its first pass down the aisle and they restocked when it returned back the other way.  I like a gin and tonic to help pass the flight but I couldn’t possibly compete with these two heavyweight boozers.

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Croatia, Istria

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Istria 2011, Markets and Fortresses

Pula Istria Croatia

After we arrived we parked in the same car park and went out into the town to visit the market that was close by.  There was an outside area with rows of colourful pitches with stalls straining under the weight of fruit and vegetables all presented for purchase in an untidy but satisfying way but the best part of the market was the covered building constructed of iron and glass which housed the butchers and the delicatessens and best of all the fishmongers.

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Istria 2011, Romans and Fascists

Pula Istria Croatia Main Square

Having visited the primary tourist attraction of the city on the first day we walked back to the town centre to see what else we could discover.  The town had a slightly uncared for feel with many buildings having a lack of attention to detail in the finishings with drab concrete facades, exposed pipe work and cables that had not been quite tidied up and the first impression was that, compared to Rovinj, this place was a bit shabby and definitely still quite short of money and investment.

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Istria 2011, A Boat Ride With Dolphins

Funghi Dingle Bay Dolphin

The next morning the church bells woke me again at six o’clock and after a good night’s sleep I found it impossible to snooze away another hour or so, so knowing that Micky is an early riser and would probably be wandering about the village I decided to dress and go and see if I could find him.  There was no sign of him in the streets or the coffee bars and it turned out that just like me the day before he was on early morning shopping mission to buy a new travel kettle to replace the one that Sue and Christine had somehow managed to blow up!

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