Walking on Walls and Sleeping in Hotels

I spent the last week in two UNESCO protected walled cities along the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik, Croatia and Kotor, Montenegro. Both cities are extremely popular summer destinations but completely empty in December, which was kind of cool, even though it rained a lot.

I’ll preface with, I didn’t learn much about history in these places. I did an overpriced one hour walking tour in Dubrovnik that was mostly about churches and patron saints, I can’t even tell you one thing about the famous city walls that I didn’t look up on my own. I really wanted to go to the war museum, which covers the Siege of Dubrovnik from 1991-1992, but it’s at the top of the mountain requiring an expensive gondola or uphill hike, and the weather was terrible, so I opted out.

But I did brave the city walls in the rain, ventured out to the abandoned Belvedere Hotel (a 5 star hotel destroyed in the 1991 siege and location of the famously gruesome GoT fight between the Mountain and Oberyn), and got one clear night for a spectacular sunset over the Adriatic.

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A new red roof means the house was hit during the war. There were 314 direct hits on Dubrovnik, and 111 more on the walls. The city was already a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site at the time.
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Blackwater Bay 🙂
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The stairs made famous by Cersei’s walk of shame, shame, shame. The building at the top is a high school.
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The coolest basketball court in the world.
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Notice the pillars are filled in about halfway, this was for modesty as women had to lift their skirts to climb the stairs.
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The long building on the water, the Lazareti, is thought to be the world’s first quarantine. Being a port city, Dubrovnik was constantly visited by foreign merchants and sailors and needed a way to protect itself against disease, specifically the Black Death. As early as the 14th century, foreigners were required to stay in this building as long as 40 days under observation. It was originally 30 days, trentine in Venetian dialect, and was later extended to 40 days, becoming a quarantine.

By the time I arrived in Kotor I was battling a bad cold, itchy all over thanks to some bed bugs I met in Mostar, and the entire city of Kotor was flooded, including my hostel. I managed one night in a room with five boys and decided that after over three months of hostel dorm life it was time for my first hotel stay of the trip. Luckily I got a great deal at the Palazzo Drusko right down the street, was checked in by 10 am the next morning, and basically slept for the next 24 hours.

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It rained on and off for the next two days so I caught up on sleep, cooked meals in a kitchen no one else was using, binge watched The Sinner on Netflix, and started in on my plans for Asia.

By Monday it cleared up and I ventured out for some hiking up and around Kotor.

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The Adriatic Sea in the distance
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Bay of Kotor
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I’m not sure what this guy was, he stared me down for a while…I patiently waited for him to clear the path.
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The hiking trail actually leads you out the back window of the fortress.

I wanted to check out the Kotor Maritime Museum in old town, but it’s off season hours over the weekend were 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, which didn’t work with my sleep schedule, and Monday and Tuesday were so nice out that I chose to do hikes instead. I felt bad that I didn’t learn anything about Kotor so I did some quick research online for the basics:

  • The city is really old, first mentioned in 168 BC in Ancient Roman times, and is entirely surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period.
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Look closely at the hill above the old town and you can see the fortifications going all the way up and around the town.
  • The city is located on the Gulf of Kotor and many call it a fjord (a long narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs created by glacial erosion). In fact, it’s a ria, a coastal inlet formed by the partial submergence of an unglaciated river valley, or a submerged river canyon. I know, tomato tomahto, either way, it makes for a really beautiful landscape.

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  • Kotor has been ruled by everyone – Ancient Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, the Kingdom of Serbia (pre-Yugoslavia), the Kingdom of Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, the Hapsburgs, the list goes on. But the Venetian’s ruled here for over 400 years and that is where the old town’s architectural influence came from.
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Old town – it’s tiny but I never figured out how to get around, it’s totally confusing.
  • St. John or San Giovanni’s Fotress dates back to the Illyrians, as early as the 9th century, and the fortifications completely surround the city from bottom to top, roughly 1,350 steps up.

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Fortifications around Kotor lit up at night
  • There are many churches within the tiny Kotor Old Town and the bells seem to ring at random. One day I was hiking they started going at 11:46 am, another time at 5:27 pm? They all seem to be ringing to their own tune at different intervals, it was weird.
  • There are cats EVERYWHERE. So many that they even have a Cat Museum in the old town.

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While I’m a bit sad to leave the comfort and privacy of my hotel room, I’m excited to get back into a social setting, and the next place for that will be Tirana, Albania! Headed there first thing tomorrow and you can bet I’ll have a much more historical post on Albania coming shortly.

8 thoughts on “Walking on Walls and Sleeping in Hotels

  1. jordyn51200

    I hope your cold and bed bug episode is on the mend. I bet the hotel felt absolutely luxurious. I love all the beautiful pics. Look forward to Albania. Love you honey, Aunt Debbie

  2. Jackie Price

    I loved Dubrovnik when we were there, but we were tourists and not travelers, like you. Amazing. Love reading these posts.

  3. mon

    Those photos 😍 Amazing clouds and fjords!!

    On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 1:33 PM tedious and brief wrote:

    > Emily posted: “I spent the last week in two UNESCO protected walled cities > along the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik, Croatia and Kotor, Montenegro. Both > cities are extremely popular summer destinations but completely empty in > December, which was kind of cool, even though it ra” >

  4. auntlinda5

    Em, you’re truly amazing! I’m glad you’re feeling better and hope the bedbugs are getting left behind for the cats to eat. Sounds like Kings Landing was quite the experience and it’s great you stayed at the hotel. The pic are beautiful and especially of you. Looking forward to the next post! Love, Aunt Linda

  5. Kim Sheffield

    The sights continue to take my breath away, Em. Stories about the bed bugs, not so much!😂 Happy to hear you were able to catch up on sleep, and I assume you are over your cold…

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