Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dubrovnik vs Kotor - The Balkans (D11/12)

They say whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe and beauty when you set eyes on the Stradun never fades. Although the shelling in 1991 and 1992 did considerable damage, all the affected buildings have now been restored. Today Dubrovnik is the most visited and expensive city in Croatia. To avoid the heat of the day and maddening crowd, I timed my visit to the city walls and forts about two and half hours before closing. Built between the 13th and 16th centuries, they are still intact today. The entire old town is contained within the walls 2km long and up to 25m high. The views over the town and sea are sublime and it was really nice to see it with relative solitude too. I cannot imagine anyone not feel inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that have protected this republic for five centuries and it was the high point of my visit to Croatia. Next morning, I got up early for better photo opportunities of the old town without all the people before hopping on a bus into Montenegro.

view from the st john fortress in kotor
The medieval walled town of Kotor reminds me of Dubrovnik in many ways - but it is better. Think a low-key and low-cost Dubrovnik without the crowds. The room I got there from a young lady at the bus station was also one of my favorite (the other was Vis). At the front is the ruins, on the side there is a moat and the south gate to old town and at the back the wall stretching all the way up the top of the hill. Started the steep climb up the old fortress walls four in the afternoon. It was a fairly steep 4.5km climb up a series of sharply inclining steps grafted onto the hillside with sublime view of old town and bay along the way. It took me almost 2 hours of leisurely pace with several stops to rest and photograph to reach the top. From the St John castle, I took in the magnificent views of the flutter of red and orange colored roofs of the old town and the bay quietly shimmering in the distance. If you ask me, Kotor triumphs.

the big fountain of onofrio

view of the walls and adriatic sea

inside the city walls

dubrovnik old town and lokrum island

minčeta tower
minčeta tower brilliantly illuminated
stradun by night

pile gate - early morning without the crowd
an empty stradun at six in the morning
parting shot of dubrovnik and lokrum island from the bus
house that i stayed while in kotor
kotor old town

view on the way up the fortress walls
long steep climb
bay of kotor
15th century church of our lady of health

flying montenegro flag
house that i stayed is at the bottom of this pic
view from the top

church of our lady of health
back down to old town
serbian orthodox church of st nicolas
square of arms and fortress walls illuminated

market outside the walls
artist at work

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