Budva Citadel Walkabout
Wake up at 11. Check out was 1030. We are trash coons. Maybe a shower will help. No drain shower. Scummy Budva Brut Beach Bash ankle water. So narrow that the curtain is stuck to my naked ass and torso half the time. Get off me, fah! Instantly back. Nooooooo. So struggly.
Get back to the room and McBurger is up. “Ahhhh I feel fucking terrible. What did I do to deserve this?!” “You do it to yourself, Thom Yorke.” “I have a feeling today will suck.” “Only if you let it.. But yes, today will suck.”
We get packed up and head down to grandma’s place. There’s a fella at the desk doing admin shit. “Hey man, we’re a little late on the whole check out thing.” “Ahh no problem. It was fun?” “Yes, I think it was.” “Haha well good!” FH2 don’t care, best case.
We stash our bags by the front, leave FH2 and head immediately next door on the promise of breakfast. We flop into some seats. Menus. “Whelp.. they have English breakfast.” “Yessssh. Maybe today won’t suck.”
Looks good on the outset but subpar ingredients. Sucks. So does the music. So does the terrible high pitched drilling construction sound coming from within the walls. “So do the aggressive flies shitting in our hockey bags.” “Whaaa..??” McBurger relates a story that I only have a quarter attention span for. It’s probably funny but there’s hardly energy enough for an honest chuckle.
“So what was up with that Turkish girl and her whacky-shaped, coke-dealing werewolf last night?” “Who knows man. That was weird.” “”I was just telling him what I did to you…” What does that mean?” “Ya, I don’t know what she was getting at there.” “And then she seemed fine.. and the creepy “Go to sleeeeep” thing?” “There’s no figuring that shit out and we’ll never see them again. Don’t bother.” “S’pose not.” Still confused and too hungover to make sense of it all.
We wrap up and mosey into the alleys to check out the rest of the fortress we may have missed. Straight up to the Citadel area that was closed when we got here yesterday. Ticket dude at the front breaks a hunny no problem.
Vine covered walkways amongst the Venetian stone. Signs lead to a library and the upper walls.
We find ourselves in a swanky library. This is the place. Agent McBurger searches for the drop location.
Last column, fourth shelf, sixth book from the left, page 434. One invisible word, “Kotor”.
There’s an adjacent library area across the hall with more swank.
We get up on the walls for a slothy jaunt around.
Looking back on the scene of last night’s near-crimes.
“It’s a sweet fortress alright.” “Mini-Dubrovnik.”
“Aaaand douche it.” I’m this hungover.
The walls track right around the upper exterior by the Adriatic Sea. Beauty spot with a beauty view.
After scouting things out we get back to the main series of squares. There’s a juice stand that looks currently vital to our survival. “Stop for a detox juice?” “Sounds about right.”
We order up some healthy hangover busters and take a rest at some nearby tables.
There’s an unassuming carrier cockatiel cage here where we can send an encoded mission message back to Dr. Birdrito. It decodes to, “Kotor. We’re on the case.”
Off to Kotor
It’s a pleasant day inside the walls but the incessant construction drilling is really harshing our will to live. It’s a battle between hangover juice and that piercing staccato rumble vibration. We don’t last long. “Holy fuck, let’s get out of here.” “Agreed.”
We get back to FH2 and nab our bags from an unguarded Grandma’s place. “Find a bus to Kotor maybe?” I hop on the hostel wifi, “Looks easy enough. About 12 bucks for two.” “Let’s go to the place and check on times.”
Exit the walls and there’s a taxi where Schumacher was parked last night. Eyebrows? Why not. We walk up and inquire. Tappy tap tap, “How much to Kotor?” “It’s by meter.” “What would you guess?” “Hmm 25.” “Ok, let’s do it.”
We toss our stuff in the trunk, “Chalk up a 13 dollar convenience fee for our sorry souls I guess, eh?” “Better than walking to the buses, waiting, being cramped and uncomfortable.” “Fair.”
It’s a lazy ride and comfy. The scenery continues to be amazing. We come to a great tunnel entrance. It’s an incredibly long tunnel with miserable ventilation. The cabbie puts windows up and air on. Smells horribly like exhaust. “There’s someone biking through here?” “Shit. No thanks.”
The drive only takes 25 minutes. Soon we’re in a large bay with mountains on either side. Cruise ship moored in the port. “Things are closer than I thought. Get to Herceg Novi after all?” “How far’s that?” “Another hour.” “See how things pan out.”
We pull into the Kotor city center and up by an old stone wall. Impressive. We can see more red roofed glory inside. Looks like Budva on a much bigger scale. There is a windy staircase climbing up the steep slope behind the town to a castle at the peak. We’re craning our necks out the windows to see it. “Whoa, that castle hike looks crazy!” “Anywhere here is good, man.” “Ah yes, thank-you.”
We hop out and take it in. Maybe it’s the detox juice or the excitement of seeing this.. dulls the hungover vibe a tad. “The Castle of San Giovanni.” “Crazy.”
We slip inside the Venetian walls and it’s definitely Budva scaled up. Still all stone but more spacious, grander buildings. Green shuddered windows. Laundry out on lines. More people about. “Dude, this is sick.” “Ya Montenegro keeps hitting.” Tons of outdoor dining in shady areas. This is looking good.
We navigate the maze of interior walls to the place I’d booked en route in the taxi, Hostel Old Town Kotor. Make our way through some large arched doors and follow signs to check-in. There is a guy at the desk exchanging money with another dude. He looks up as we drop our bags, “Sorry guys, there are bribes happening here.” “Good we’re in the right place.”
Sweet looking pool right here by check-in.
“Alright guys, sorry about that.” We roll over, slap the passports down and give him our details. “K, let’s take a look. Ahhh… There’s a girl in your room right now so…” “Do we pay for her now or after?” This guy loses his shit. Doubled over laughing. He’s back up. He’s down again. Cracking. Goes up for a high five. Solid. “Ahh man that just made my day. Honestly.”
He’s still chuckling about it while he describes the place, “…and there’s a sunset BBQ but we’re late for that. Give me a half hour to get them out the door, ok?” “Sure, we’ll go grab a coffee or something.” “Perfect.”
Back out to the old town interior. We pass through some incredible squares aimlessly looking for a coffee joint.
Suddenly we’re stuck in a cruise ship crowd and the struttin comes to a crawl. Walkers. Wheelchairs. Just baby stepping around old town now. I mean, bless them for still wanting to see the world in their golden years and whatnot, but we’re just unbearably hungover here.
So Kotor is actually too awesome. We come around a corner and our first cruise ship group bumps right into another one and now the strollers have doubled. Combo this with walking groups of people getting guided tour breakdowns in front of a church and we are barely moving at all. It’s packed. Hard nope. This is an exponential increase in tourism activity from everywhere we’ve been since Vienna. Insanely cool place but…
We find a place called Astoria that has an open seat and decide to plunk down and wait it out. The tuxedo’d server comes out, looks at us and scowls. Yep that’s probably a fair assessment. We’re pieces of shit here in your fancy schmancy restaurant, no doubt.
He brings over some menus and waits while we peruse. “Wow. Amazing menu.” “Yes. Thank-you.” “Zucchini Gorgonzola soup and Bruschetta Napolitano?” This gets a smile from the server. Don’t think he expected me to say anything over one syllable. It was a stretch tbh. McBurger just nods. That’s the state. “And two Niksicko Pivo, please.” “Ok, good!” He’s chipper now. Underestimation overcome slightly.
McBurger musters up a lite pep talk, “Alright beer. I know we’re not getting along right now, but do your fucking thing. Ok?” No response.
And commence the slow passage of can’t do anything but this. Sprawled in our seats watching the live golden girls rerun parade we nurse the pivo until the food arrives. We order in a couple more hoping for a miracle.
A small one arrives when we discover the food is phenomenal.
We polish it up and are still just lounging thereafter for an hour or so. “Nope. Still feeling rough. Gonna be a nothing day today.” “Ya, no great ambitions for sure.” We put in a beer here and there. The server has warmed up to us vagrants and is all smiles during his frequent smoke breaks.
Our little corner gets some shade and it’s a subtle and welcome change.
“So Herceg, or no-vi?” “Considering how useless we are today I’m thinking it’s out. Will take another day off and we should be heading towards Athens or Rome soon.” “Probably. With fuck up time to spare.” “Exactly.” “Alright well let’s make our way back to Tirana again tomorrow maybe and figure it out from there.”
I head inside to scout out the restrooms and discover the place is cool af.
“Back to the hostel? Jump on the wifi and figure shit out?” “I have to move and stuff?” “I think so, ya.” “Ahhhhhhhggg…”
The cruise ships have cleared out and it’s super nice in here now. Breezy. It is an incredible old town.
This is the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon built in 1166.
We go up some narrow windy stairways to a small red door set into a dusty beige building. Door code. Memorize. In. Antique-y spiral stairs and narrow halls with a couple of rooms on each floor.
This is cool. Got our own apartment in Kotor. It’s small with just two beds, sofa and coffee table. A window looks out to one of the main squares surrounded by restaurant patios.
“Restrooms are two doors down. And there are towels here. Good?” “Yep, all set. Thanks.”
We crash on our respective beds in the hostel, lethargic zombies. I pull up the bus info back to Tirana. “Ahh ok…” “Bad?” “Well, there’s one. And it leaves at 8am.” “Ahh fuck, really?” “Looks like it.”
A sudden burst of stupid epiphany energy hits me, “…and if that’s the case.. I’m going up to that castle right now.” “Seriously? Up the cliff?” “Yep. Should be enough time left before sunset. You in?” “Nope.” “Sure? Probably won’t be back here ever.” “Nah, I’m good.” I feel like I’ve had this conversation before.
I grab Narco, “K, fuck it. I’m doing it.” Fill a water bottle. Stuff it in the small pack. “This is going to suck bad.” “Ya man. Enjoy that shit.” “Last chance?” “No way.”
Mustering some semblance of energy I take to the stairs back to the alleyway. I’m on a mission now and once the legs start pumping I’m half convinced it’s doable. Had enough downtime I think. Time for some uptime.
Alright. How do I get to this fucking castle?