It pays to listen to the friends you make on an airplane - especially when they share a passion for their heritage and provide all the good reasons why you have to visit a place. Our seat-mate on the flight from Zagreb to Dubrovnik - a college student, who had studied in America, returning home for the All Saints Day Holiday - encouraged us to take a day trip to the Bay of Kotor, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Undaunted by yet another gray and rainy day, we started at our favorite 24-hour bakery to pack a breakfast of some "Burek" - a classic Croatian spiral-shaped delight made with phyllo pastry and filled with cheese or ground meat. Then we set off on a 30-minute walk to the port of Dubrovnik to catch a bus to Kotor, Montenegro.
The 2-hour bus ride took us south along the Dalmatian Coast and across the border into Montenegro. The last 30 minutes of the ride took us around this amazing triangular bay with high, fjord-like sides, and into the fortified town of Kotor - once a part of the Venetian Republic and a key to Venice's defense in the 15th-17th centuries.
We roamed the cobble-stoned streets of this ancient walled city with its stairs up the mountainside, past souvenir shops, churches, private homes, restaurants, and feral cats everywhere you looked.
We escaped a downpour by popping into the Hotel Marija where we noshed on a plate of Montenegro cheeses, smoked prosciutto, walnuts, prunes, and honey while we sipped on Serbian wine. After our snack we toured the Cathedral / Basilica of Saint Tryphon, and enjoyed the view from the top of the city wall.
Kotor had much of the charm of Dubrovnik without the crowds and the tourist traps. This was one of the nicest days we'd had and we'd never have planned it were it not for our seat-mate on the flight.
We learned an important lesson - chat up the locals and follow their advice!
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Nancy McCabe &