Sleeping in a real bed at the Hotel Splendito in Kotor, Montenegro sure was a treat after 17 hours of driving yesterday. It was windy all night and the shutters were slamming against our windows. When it was finally morning, Dave and I stood at the door of our room and braced ourselves to open the shutters and get a chance to see the Bay of Kotor in the daylight. WOW.
We were met with basically a wall of rock that came straight out of the ocean. The water was clear blue and little islands dotted the bay. They were adorable, some so little yet still having a small churches on them with blue roofs and gold crosses.
A bit of background here: The Bay of Kotor is falsely referred to as the southernmost fjord in the world. Fjords are most often found in Scandinavian countries, probably because they are formed by glaciers that cut into rock to form steep cliffs leading to water below. The Bay of Kotor is actual a submerged river canyon, which is called a ria. Either way, the Bay of Kotor looks like fjords, and it didn’t matter too much to us how it was formed.
Matt had already been outside so we took a short walk with him and he showed us the patio area outside of the hotel. It was windy and misting a little bit but we took some pictures and then headed inside for our free breakfast. It was ok, kinda Mediterranean but with just too many eggs for my liking. We went outside again and tried to soak up the view as well as take some more pics. I just could not get enough of it. The fjord, the houses dotting the cliffs, the little islands….it was simply beautiful. You could tell that, in the summer, this place was a madhouse.
We had a lot of ground to cover today so we left the hotel, with Dave driving, and continued back towards the ferry.
We took the noon ferry across the Bay of Kotor and then drove onwards to Debrovnik for lunch. The drive was so amazing – better than the Great Ocean Road in Australia because there was not only beautiful landscapes but also a European feel with small villages and medieval architecture. It was also a less touristy area. We drove North along the Adriatic Sea, crossed the border into Croatia and followed signs for Debrovnik.
Coming into Debrovnik it was clear that we were in the more developed Croatia compared the countries of yesterday. We found a place to park, although I have no idea how we fit into the spot or found it. It was easy to tell that we were going to get lost when trying to find our car later, so we took photos of the exact entrance (this is a great travel trick). Dubrovnik is a medieval walled city, it was clear that it was built to confuse visitors. We started down the long, stone steps and were hungry enough to stop in one of the first restaurants that we saw, Ragusa II. The prices were much higher than we had been used to, but it still wasn’t too bad and we felt like, after yesterday, we deserved a celebratory lunch of sorts. The cuisine was Mediterranean with lots of seafood, garlic, and light sauces and good bread and wine. We had muscles in a fantastic sauce, shrimp risotto and fresh fish. After our meal we started walking around the city. It was SO unique, just white stone floors and little shops and things like this – even old Roman-looking ruins. There were orange trees growing inside too!
We took lots of pics, I got to talk to Nicole for a little bit, and then we searched for a coffee/gelato place so I could get a latte. After that, we tried to find our way back to the car. We were successful thanks to our photo taking and now it was my turn to drive. Man it was a bitch to get out of there! That spot was so small and the roads were made for horses to use, not cars. Finally we were out of there and we continued north on the main road towards Split.
Now….the Southern part of Croatia, where Dubrovnik is located, is somehow separate from the rest of the country. There is a tiny 4 mile stretch of coast that belongs to Bosnia and thus, Croatia is split in two so that Bosnia has a coastline. Well, Bosnia is a complete shit hole compared to Croatia. It was very weird though – for 4 miles the currency changed, the homes got poor looking, and the signs changed languages. We didn’t have to go through a border crossing though, because we kept on a road that only passed through Bosnia. We ended up stopping in a “rest stop” to use the bathroom and it was just NASTY with smoke. We all stood there in that rest stop though, and watched the most amazing sunset over the most amazing landscape.
Dave was to complete the drive and we were once again on a major road heading into Split, which seemed to be a major city. After stopping once for directions, we found our hostel, Silver Central. Matt and I scoped out the place and then we returned to the car to bring in our things. Well then…what to do with the car. The awesome hostel owner decided he would lead us around the city with us following in our car and he on his moped. Well, Dave was darting in and out of narrow streets and up and down hills and finally FINALLY we found a spot that was pretty much the exact size of our car and was on a very steep hill. The man in the moped drove off and we were left to park. Dave gave it a go, but with limited manual experience he kept rolling forwards even with the car in reverse. It was, frankly, not going to happen. I had to take the wheel and, I have to say, executed the most perfect parallel parking jobs ever. Up hill, backwards, TINY spot. Didn’t bump either car once. Am fantastic driver
Dave and I walked back to the hostel, after getting lost a bit. Matt had done an awesome job asking for a dinner place so we decided to go right then to Fife. This was our first glimpse at the water and the front of the city and it was cold and dark, but I could tell it was beautiful. The roads were white and wide and there were palm trees and nice boats in the harbor. Fife was super authentic, so the first thing we did was get some pivo (beer). We had the Croatian national dish, Paaticada, which is a beef stew in a red wine sauce over gnocchi. Dave and I also shared the chicken and mushrooms. The food was really awesome, super flavorful and filling.
Mikey D wasn’t doing so well so he had some mashed potatoes and gnocchi. After dinner we decided to chill back in the hostel but we needed some beers for the room of course. You could tell we weren’t in the US when we were able to just purchase the beers to-go from the restaurant for a reasonable price. Back at the hostel I enjoyed some internet access and then went to bed. Mikey wasn’t doing so well at this point but Nicole is taking good care of him. Tomorrow we return to Zagreb!