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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Anticipating Montenegro

I'd really been looking forward to our day ashore in Montenegro , one of the world's newest countries. It was formed in 2006 when its citizenry took  back control and voted for independence from Serbia with which it had aligned after the breakup of Yugoslavia. I knew that until fairly recently it had closed its doors to the outside world and become a lawless haven for smugglers.
After cruising with the Crystal Serenity on the Adriatic down the long fjords to reach Kotor, it was easy to understand how it could remain isolated. Tall rugged mountains plunge to the sea with the mirror-like surface of the water resulting from its protection by the land.

It wasn't far from the walled town of Dubrovnik, which I last visited three years ago on a small-ship voyage among Croatia's islands, but it proved quite different.

 The walled town of Kotor is attributed to the Venetians who dominated the Dalmation coast to he north and this coastline from the 15th to 18th centuries. The iconic Venetian lion guards the fortress on its sea side and also seems to protect the clock tower within its gates. The impressive wall,  60 feet high, 30 feet thick and three miles long, was begun in the 9th century and not completed for 1,000 years.

Somewhat daunted at the steep terrain, I still wanted to visit the fortress above the bay. I figured the climb would help me work off some of the calories I'd added during the cruise. So we asked abut the path and were pointed to the eastern walls, where the serpentine path wound upward to 900 feet above the bay. "It's 1,350 steps," the woman at the tourism kiosk  told us. "But the most people believe the views are worth it."

Already tired from scrambling over steep cobbled streets, my daughter and I sat down on a bench outside the walls to consider our options, when she fell ill. That scary chapter in our trip is recounted in the following blog.

Needless to say I never made the climb. So Kotor is now on my list of places to which  I must one day return.


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