The Castle of San Giovanni, Kotor

Kotor is an even bigger maze than Budva and it takes a minute to get my bearings in the snaking alleys below the cliff. Where do you start this thing?

A few wrong turns and I find my way. There’s a guy outside a flimsy gate that takes a few Euros and motions for me to go up. After a few steps I remember our informant Laura in Timisoara talking about this and her hot tip about going up into the town and sneaking in through a window for free. Guess I screwed that up. Ahh it’s only a few bucks. Support the local economy.

Alright, up along the wall on a rocky path.

Yep, around the first corner and it’s pretty damn steep. I’m already sweating like crazy. Probably shouldn’t be so hungover doing this. James would bee barf-dying.

There are ruins of some old rooms in the walls. Crumbling and overgrown.

Come around a switchback and the view back on the harbor and city is already fabulous.

Not a ton of shade on the rocky path. Damn that oppressive sun. Probably gonna get burnt too.

There are some cool ruins of churches on the way up. People are set up in the shade of them to sell water and knickknacks.

I stop for a breather in the shade of the church. This is tough stuff at the moment. Breathing hard. Ok, I can do it.

I keep climbing and the view keeps getting better.

The old town of Kotor fits within the walls in this nice symmetric triangle.

There are a bunch of castle kitties up here. This one has found a nice sun patch for a lil cat nap.

Seems like this would have been hard to build back in the day. All these rocks up the cliffside. But the mountain of St John (aka San Giovanni) was fortified all the way back in Illyrian times (around 6th century B.C.E). Byzantine Emperor Justinian I reconstructed it in the 6th century but the current fortifications are all thanks to the Venetians back in the 1420s. 

Then, of course, everything changed hands a million times from the Venetians to Ottomans to Hapsburgs. In 1805 it was being occupied by some Russians but given over to Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna it was returned to the Austrians. They split town after defeat in WWI and in WWII it was liberated from the Axis forces on Nov 21, 1944.

Another quick breather before I cut up through here. Getting there.

Some steep af steps. What the hell? Wasn’t everyone shorter back then?

I come around these last fortifications and am pretty much at the top. Took less time than I thought. Only about twenty minutes. Beautiful.

Incredible view up here. Made it in time to chill for a bit as the sun starts to go down.

Whaddya think, Narco?

I start to slow down the breathing. Fwaaah I’m a sweaty mess. And now sunburnt.

Alright, let’s mosey around up here and see what else we got.

There’s a bannister with panties tied around it for everyone that lost their virginity up here.

Just a handful of folks milling about. The ruins of the fortifications with the plants growing up over them is a great vibe. Apparently the castle suffered some damage from a large earthquake in 1979.

Time for some shadow douchery.

Colors are starting to show around the mountaintops surrounding the Bay of Kotor. Temperature goes down a bit and the breath is back to resting patterns. Yep, damn glad I forced that hike on my battered self. This is a spectacle.

I walk around and check things out. Sit for a while on the wall just staring at the scene.

I find some lovely graffiti in a small window looking out on the bay.

Alrighty, I should make my way back down soon so I’m not navigating a jagged rocky path in the steep dark.

Going down = way better.

Some more castle kitties midway down, enjoying the sunset.

I get back to old town and find my way through the alleys back to our apartment. Buzz in the code and up the spiral stairs to the room. MacKay is more or less exactly where I left him.

You sweat out all the toxins?” “Yep, I feel great. I think there’s something to this exercise thing.” “Hmmm in-ter-rest-ting. Wanna grab some grub?” “For sure. I’ll just hop in the shower real quick. Care to join?” “Ohhhh monsieur! Nah, I’ll just watch some K-pop.”

Exciting. We passed lots of great looking food options earlier in the day. Wonder what happens in the walls at evening times?

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