Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Walled City of Kotor

We glimpsed the Old City last time, but didn't really have time to explore it, as our tour of Montenegro took up most of the day. So today, we've opted for a walking tour. The gates to the old city are practically across the street from where the Azamara Quest is docked, so it'll be an easy day. After yesterday, we can both do with an easy day.

All of these walled cities along the Adriatic Coast have come under the control of one great empire after the next for thousands of years. Romans, Venetians, Turks and finally Tito. And they all look pretty much the same with their limestone houses and narrow, cobbled streets and red tiled roofs. People still live in them, and cats and dogs, too. I keep an eye out for strays, because Xingxing isn't used to encountering dogs off-leash. No dogs, this morning. But there are a few kittens playing in the courtyard and their Mommy seems to be fascinated by Xingxing.

We start in the main square, where our guide points out the black iron T-bars on the outside of some of the houses. The region is prone to earthquakes, we're told. So now after an earthquake when they rebuild damaged houses, they insert these bars which go all the way through and protect the structure from future quakes.

Workmen are setting up something that looks like a catwalk outside St. Tryphon's church, where the relics of Kotor's patron saint are kept in an upper room and only brought out on the saint's festival day. The catwalk is for a major fashion show that will be held here this evening. We make our way around it and enter the church. Nobody objects to Xingxing. I'm always amazed at the soaring grandeur of these medieval churches and cathedrals. One thing that's interesting about this one is the incorporation of several Roman pillars (obviously from a structure thar pre-dated this one by hundreds of years) with the limestone pillars.
They're pretty sure there's at least one ancient city buried beneath Kotor. Of course, excavation is impossible. Even so, these coastal lands have been occupied for a long, long time. When we leave the church, the cat is waiting for us. It follows us to the Maritime Museum, formerly a noble's palace. Here, an exhibit of models of ancient sailing ships is particularly fascinating. What would the tough men who sailed in these little ships make of the Azamara Quest? I wonder. Xingxing is more interested in the cat, who is once again waiting for us outside.

There is only one tree in the Old City. It is supposedly 350 years old. We glimpse it behind a courtyard. Xingxing only has eyes for the cat, which follows us all the way back to the gate and then sits there and watches us leave. It probably knows all the dogs in the Old City, and is curious about this interloper. I imagine if you asked Xingxing what he thought of the Old City, he'd tell you all about the cat.

We have now seen more of Croatia and Montenegro than anyone I know. We've eaten Montenegro cheese, and sampled Montenegro wine, which is so good I bought a bottle to take home. I also bought a little hair-clip which -- like everything else in the world -- was made in China.  Back at the ship, we take advantage of a photo op with Azamara Quest Captain Jose.

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