Our time in Croatia and Montenegro included a few days in three medieval cities. These were fortified as key ports during the rule of the Venetian Maritime Empire that came into power in the Adriatic nearly a thousand years ago. Dubrovnik was impressive in its scale and, with its beautiful white limestone buildings and shiny paved streets that rise up from the blue-green ocean, one can understand why it is a popular tourist destination. Too popular for my liking. Way too many of our photos captured other people taking photos! The whole city revolved around the tourists and every square inch was either a museum, restaurant, souvenir shop or accommodation of some sorts. Korčula city was a very tiny version of Dubrovnik.
But hidden away, deep in the furthest corner of the Bay of Kotor and under the shadow of towering mountains, we found the real thing! Kotor city is authentic. The clothes of whole families adorn the washing lines strung between the balconies in the narrow alleys. Doors open up to kitchen tables and there are hardware stores between the bakeries and street cafes.
Although we were there in “high season” there were refreshingly few tourists and the few that were there were either domestic vacationers or Russian. We wandered the streets, walked on the city walls (from where some local boys were fishing), had a beautiful dinner on one of the city squares and enjoyed the festive sounds of street musicians. I took a few moments to reflect on the lives of thousands of people that stood where I was now standing, in a tiny church frequented by residents and travellers for over a thousand years. I was struck how the walls that were built around these people defined who they were, where they went and how they lived. It provided protection but also separated and isolated. Some things never change.
– Jarik –