Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Montenegro: A Cliffhanger

Kotor, Montenegro lies in one of three bays at the end of the southern-most fjord in Europe. Our approach was quite spectacular, and we were able to moor right alongside the quay. This is one of the advantages of traveling on a smaller ship. We took a little walk, Xingxing did what needed to be done and then we tried to board our tour bus.

The driver went ballistic. No way was he going to allow a dog on his bus. Never mind that arrangements had been made in advance. Never mind that the dog was a service dog. He leapt out of the bus, gesticulating wildly and screaming into his cell phone. Nobody could talk to him. Nobody could finish a sentence. He just paced back and forth, yelling at everyone. He was definitely what Australians call a nasty piece of work.

Long story short, they found us another bus that was doing the same tour. These things happen. Some people hate dogs. It's sad, but you have to be prepared for incidents like this, whether your dog is a service dog or not. But this wasn't the cliffhanger.

I'm glad we didn't end up missing the tour, because this section of the Adriatic coastline affords some truly spectacular views. We stopped in the former capital (during the 19th century, Montenegro was actually a political player) and drove through the karst formations of the Lovecen Mountains, known as Montenegro's stone sea, to a completely charming tavern where we sampled yet another local prosciutto and red wine that was so good I bought a bottle to take home.

The climax of the tour was a hair-raising drive down the mountain, negotiating 25 separate hairpin turns. I'd say the road was about ten feet wide. We met cars coming the other way, and that was scary enough. Then we rounded a turn and came face to face with another tour bus. Sheer cliff to the right, sheer drop on the left. The drivers conferred, with many gestures. Then we began to slowly back up, the chasm yawning below is. To think I'd insisted upon joining this tour!  Finally, the other bus somehow managed to edge past, and we continued down the mountain. These things happen, the guide said cheerfully. Xingxing slept through everything.

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