Canj Montenegro to Kotor 50km
To Dubrovnik Croatia 100km
I don't usually deviate off my route for "tourist attractions", but I had been told by three different people that I should visit Kotor, and as it was only 4km from the main road...... But as I turned off the main road, all I could see was a huge hill, with narrow winding roads....Hmmmm. What I couldn't see was a cool place to visit, nor the 2km tunnel going through the mountain, and emerging into a pretty amazing walled city. I guess it's part of history that NZers don't get to experience at home that makes seeing something like this so special. Staying inside the walled city, in a cool Hostel, with a rabbit warren of rooms was pretty cool as well. Exploring the city, climbing up to the castle, and descending down an ancient road, and it doesn't take much imagination to see knights and knaves, and the village idiot, wandering these streets in the XII century.
I've started staying in a hostel when ever I can. It's a way I can get to meet people. To be honest, I'm over long cold nights in my tent, and lonely nights in hotel rooms. It's great to have someone to chat with. This time I met a semi pro skate boarder from Brazil. And four young kiwis. What a delight. I yakked away like a demented squirrel. Two Med students, and two PE students, and two of them were the grandchildren of NZ Phys Ed guru Bob Stothart.... Small world.
The ride out of Kotor was pretty impressive as well. The road follows around the coast of a fiord like bay, passing through quaint seaside villages. It was pouring with rain, but there was hardly any traffic, so the cycling was pretty nice, and once I got out of the "bay", the weather cleared. Then I started a long slow climb, to a border post. Stamp. I'm in Croatia.
I didn't realise that Dubrovnik Old Town was another walled city. The road climbed above the city for the last 4km, so the view was pretty cool. I had ear- marked a couple of hostels in the old city. My map didn't indicate that the city had heaps of steps..... not easy with Fiona and a trailer. I got lost in the maze of streets, trying to avoid the steps, to find that all four hostels were closed for the season.... bother. But I did get to see lots.... and I found out that this is where the Game of Thrones is filmed. It's amazing what I stumble upon in my ignorance.
So, I'm in an apartment. It's cheaper than a hotel, even though I'm by myself. This place must be a mad house in summer. There are hundreds of accommodation and eating places, but many of them are closed for the winter. I'm happy to wander around without the crowds. Today, wandering the walls of the city, I met a lovely Greek Pharmacist, who has been on a four day "team bonding" weekend. We didn't realise we were meant to have paid to be up on the walls...... Oooops. We decided not to bother finishing the loop after we got caught without a ticket......
The loyalties and affiliations of the people living in this region are really complex. According to Serbs, Kosovo people are crooks and Mafia. A flag I saw in Kosovo, flying everywhere, was in fact the Albanian flag, not the Kosovo national flag. Sarajevo, in Bosnia, is still really unsettled, with Bosnians, not mixing with the Serbs that live there, and some sort of separate, but unrecognized, state exists, within the city itself. I'm still confused where Herzegovina fits into the mix. Tomorrow, all going well, I will pass through the Bosnia Herzegovina access to the Adriatic Sea. It's a strip of land about 20km wide, surrounded by Croatia. Will I get my passport stamped?