July 2, 2013
With a giant fortress looming over the city, we had to take the day off to explore. We were also excited about doing a little hike and using some different muscles. While we are in great shape for bicycling, I have noticed that I easily tire when walking long distances or climbing lots of stairs. I have been looking forward to alternative forms of exercise.
The city walls extended right up the steep side of the mountain. A stone staircase followed the walls and led to a small chapel mid way up. It would have been very picturesque, but someone had turned it into a shop selling cheap souvenirs. From there, the steps led up further through the ruins. There were a number of small dirt paths leading into small rooms or to windows in through wall. We were really able to walk wherever we wanted, even though some of the paths led along narrow parts of the walls with precipitous drops on the outside.
We ended up leaving the main path through a little window in the ramparts to explore another small chapel behind the fortress. The chapel was clearly not being used except by goats as a bathroom. As we made our way back to the trail, I noticed a sign advertising homemade goat and cow cheese. There was no discussion as to what we would be doing next.
About 100 meters up the path, we came to a little house with an incredible view of Kotor. A little granny and her granddaughter, who spoke English, came out to help us. There was a small spring they had diverted into a faucet and we were encouraged to wash up and enjoy a drink. As we talked with the young girl about quantity and prices, the granny disappeared into the house. When she returned, she was carrying to glass with what appeared to be white wine. We were not really interested in drinking but didn’t want to be rude either, so we took the glasses.
Our drinks turned out to be some sort of juice. It wasn’t anything either of us had ever had before. It was sweet and tangy, and very refreshing. The girl didn’t know the English words nor understand the process used to make it, so her granny finally went to the garden and pulled off a sample of the plant she used to make it. Turned out to be stinging nettles! We were amazed and never would have guessed it. She made a syrup by reducing the nettles, lemon, sugar and water.
After another glass of juice, we headed back up to the fortress. The top ended up being anticlimactic as there wasn’t much to see. A few stone rooms, mostly repaired in the 1950’s. The view of Kotor was stunning though.
The hike down was quick as we basically ran down the stone steps. We washed up and relaxed for a pizza dinner. Then it was off to bed early as we had a big ride planned for the next day out of Montenegro.