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  • Writer's pictureHakan Şule Efil

LET'S GO TO MONTENEGRO, LET'S EXPLORE KOTOR! June / 2023


There are two airports in the country. One is Tivat, and the other is Podgorica. Tivat is closer to the center, while Podgorica is approximately 1.5 hours away from Budva and Kotor.

CAR RENTAL

We booked our flight from Istanbul Airport to Podgorica Airport. We usually prefer public transportation abroad, but according to our research, getting around Montenegro without a car can be quite challenging. Therefore, we rented a car online before our trip. We had an interesting and confusing experience with the car rental, which I'll explain now.

We rented a fully insured car for 5 days, picking up and returning it at Podgorica Airport, through the internet. When we got there, they informed us that they didn't accept the insurance we purchased online, and instead, they offered two insurance options. My point is, don't bother getting insurance when renting a car; they will charge you for insurance anyway under any circumstances. By the way, getting insurance is not mandatory, but since the places we were visiting were small, they mentioned the possibility of collisions during parking. So, to be on the safe side, we opted for insurance. Result: No collisions occurred. :D

Finally, Podgorica Airport is quite small, so there can be a long wait for car rental. We had to wait for about an hour before we could get our car. The return process is, of course, faster.

Before I talk about Kotor, I must mention that we allocated 2 days of our 5-day Montenegro trip to the Bay of Kotor and 3 days to Budva. Within the 2 days, we explored Kotor and Perast, and in Perast, we went for a swim. Two days are enough to see everything, but in our opinion, you could easily stay for a week.

OUR FIRST DESTINATION IS KOTOR, FORWARD

Now, let's talk about the vacation we looked back on. Oh my, when we consider all the roads we've traveled to until my age, we haven't seen a route as challenging as the one between Podgorica and Kotor. We're children of the Black Sea, grew up on the old Black Sea roads, but we haven't encountered such difficulty. A single lane, winding mountain road... So far, so good. The 80 km journey takes about 2 hours, and that's fine too. But on that single-lane road, when a large vehicle appears in front of you (I can almost hear you saying, "What's a large vehicle doing there?" – brace yourself, the road is filled with tour buses), you have to reverse until you find a niche to take refuge in for that approaching turn. Reverse! A niche is not immediately found either. Okay, you reversed and found it, tucked into the niche, the bus passed, and you think, "Phew, now I can go," stepping on the gas, moving forward, and suddenly, you see another bus. Well, time to reverse again. This is how you descend to Kotor from the very winding road you see below. :D

As challenging as we described it, experiencing it left us happy. Especially reaching Kotor Old Town at the end was fantastic.









KOTOR’DA KONAKLAMA


ACCOMMODATION IN KOTOR

Once again, before our trip, we had made a reservation at a hotel called Hotel Rendez Vous through the internet. The rooms were so small that you couldn't even open a suitcase, but the fact that it was a hotel inside the Old Town was a delightful situation for us. In front of the hotel, there is a restaurant-cafe with its own atmosphere.


When we arrived in Kotor, we immediately marked Old Town on our map. Our hotel was located within Old Town. As we entered from the main gate of Old Town, on the left side, and as we exited from the main gate, we parked in the free parking lot immediately on the right. After a short walking distance, ta-da! There it was, the entrance gate to Kotor Old Town. The fact that it is surrounded by walls gives you incredible feelings.

Above the entrance gate, Tito's famous quote is written: "Tude necemo svoje nedamo." Tito says, "We don't want what belongs to others, and we don't give away what is ours."


WHAT CAN YOU SEE IN KOTOR OLD TOWN?

San Giovanni: As you enter Old Town from the main gate, there is a door on the left a little further ahead that leads to the fortress. As you proceed through the door, you begin to climb the fortress by paying 8 Euros per person. There are over 1300 steps, and although it may seem like a challenging path, it won't be too demanding if you take breaks and is an extremely enjoyable route. When you reach the top, the view of the bay is worth seeing. We believe it is a must-visit place.



Old Town: You should add the streets of Old Town to your list of places to visit. You can get lost in the streets of Old Town, sit in cafes, and explore souvenir shops.



Gurdich Gate: Be sure to pass through the old castle gate at the southern entrance. Since you're already passing through here, I recommend not missing the entrance gate to the walls just below.


WALLS: To enter the walls, known as the Gurdich Gate, from the other entrance of Old Town, you'll find the entrance stairs a bit further ahead on the left. You can walk on the walls from here, and it's extremely enjoyable, with the entrance being free.



St. Tryphon Cathedral: Built in 1166, the church is located right in the center of Kotor Old Town. Being one of the largest and most ornate structures in Montenegro, the cathedral suffered significant damage from the 1667 Dubrovnik earthquake and the 1979 Montenegro earthquakes, leading to extensive restoration. You can see a stone decoration depicting the life of St. Tryphon above the main altar. Don't miss this church, which has an older and larger treasury than many famous churches and cathedrals in Europe.


St. Nikola Church: A Serbian Orthodox church built in 1902.

St. Mary's Church Bronze Gate: A bronze gate depicting the life of the Blessed Osanna in 24 relief carvings.



Clock Tower: Built in 1602, a clock tower consisting of Baroque and Gothic architectural styles. A very touristy spot.


MUST-DO LIST

1.Enjoy your evening with light music in a place during the coolness of the late afternoon. Ever Green Jazz Bar is highly recommended for this.



2. Make sure to climb to San Giovanni Fortress. The entrance fee is 8 Euros per person, and although the internet mentions about 1200 steps, it feels like more, but don't let that discourage you. Climb at your own pace, and the view of the bay from the top is AMAZING, TOP-NOTCH, FIVE-STARS.


3.There is an exit path near the South Gate of Old Town leading to the walls. Walk on the walls for sure. As mentioned before, the entrance is free. :)


4.Visit the churches, take a few souvenir photos, and drink water from the fountain at the entrance of the city. :)


DINING IN KOTOR

There are plenty of cafes, small pubs, and restaurants in Old Town. There's a strong Italian influence. Since it was under Venetian rule for over 400 years, Italian architecture, cuisine, and atmosphere prevail. Risotto, pasta, fish, and wines are famous and quite delicious.

In terms of prices, places in the squares are relatively 3-5 Euros more expensive, and indoor establishments are more affordable. However, we think the taste is similar everywhere. Regarding breakfast, the country may not be as satisfying as ours yet, but a hearty breakfast can be achieved with classic omelets and pancakes (similar to crepes).

In general, you can enjoy a good meal by paying a maximum of 15-20 Euros per person at most dining places. Beers cost 3-5 Euros, Aperol varies from 6-9 Euros depending on the venue, and coffees range between 2.5-3 Euros. We can't provide many specific recommendations because every place has its own charm, so without much fuss, you can eat and drink at any place you like, considering price balances. Our only suggestions might be to try a seafood dish, risotto, and Montenegrin wine. Portions are not very small, and one plate of each dish is sufficient for two people.




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