Sep 4:  Budva

Got up at 7:30am for breakfast, and we were to meet at the post office near Mediteranska to start our all-day excursion to the Bay of Kotor.  I noted that the Hotel Vila Lux was very nice--looked relatively new and the rooms had air conditioning.  That's why they put "lux" in the name.  On account of the relative luxury.

Waiting at the post office, I took this photo of a dawg and this tree with fruit just out of my reach.  I though that if I had a Geefle to my Gonk, I could have tasted it.  The dogg inspired a profound thought:  We were on the Dalmatian Coast, but I had yet to see any Dalmatians.  (Later in Dubrovnik I asked about this...Jeremy said it's because the spots on a Dalmatian resemble the Croatian islands.)

We took a minibus to Tivat, and from there a boat for our day afloat.  First port of call was Herceg Novi.

Herceg Novi from the boat.  The gray thing in the middle is Forte Mare (Sea Fortress).

We did a walking tour with a local guide into the old town.  I'm starting to tire of walking tours with local guides through old towns.  We finished atop Kanli Kula tower, another fortress thing.

Herceg Novi from Kanli Kula.

Amphitheatre atop the fortress.

More fortress.

Artsy-phartsy fortress shot.

On the way back down to the boat I got a hamburger.  It seems that burgers, cevapi and pljeskavica are all made from the same universal batch of meat.  In Belgrade I saw a guy scooping out meat from his batch and either rolling it into cevapi or pressing it into pljeskavica.

The boat continued out of the bay and toward the seaward town of Zanjic.

The announcer on the boat said this peninsula, marked on the map as Rt Ostro, is Croatian territory.  I checked...he was right!

From Zanjic we took a smaller and very crowded boat to the Blue Grotto (Plava Spilja on the map).  This is a cave off the Adriatic with a blue bottom.  Many American girls have blue bottoms because the fat chokes off the circulation.  (Whoa, that one was just unprovoked.)  It's also big enough for three boats to enter and idle inside comfortably.  The grotto I mean.  Oh, behave.  I did bring my gear (I walked around in my amazing Technicolor bathing suit all day) and was prepared to plunge into the grotto.

I got a low-battery warning as I took this so I'm lucky it came out this well.

I took the plunge, and it wasn't very cold.  But the water was extremely choppy.  I swallowed some salt water right away, and then I struggled to stay above water as the waves came in violently.  And I was dehydrated, so I wasn't quite ready for this sudden burst of physical activity.  I climbed back onto the boat and was out of breath (I found the idiotic question "how was it?" difficult to answer), and bad nausea quickly set in.  As the boat left the cave I also became light-headed and light-sensitive, and had to cover my head with a towel, reminiscent of Curt Schilling in 1993.  It was more to deter people from speaking to me than to keep the light out.  I am tired; I am salty; I require silence.  I got that telltale lump in my throat that usually precedes vomiting, but I valiantly kept it down, and the threat dissipated.  I heard later that a lot of people on the boat shared my condition--even the ones who didn't jump in.

That photo of my feet in the Adriatic has become less interesting, because now I've been fully submerged.

We returned to Zanjic and got back on the big boat, which then took us to Gospa od Skrpjela.  This is an island built where an icon washed up on the rocks, and they built a church on the island.  ABC--Another Bloody Church.  I took no photos.  But I bought a Coke, which I was craving.

The next and final stop was Kotor.  It's nestled in southern Europe's deepest fjord.  As we approached, Mary Tod asked "what makes a fjord?" and I said "God does."  Kotor is known for its hilltop fortress that requires 1350 steps to reach.  I lacked the shoes, interest and time to do that hike.  We did a walking tour with a local guide through the old town.  This guide was the worst ever.  She spoke too softly, never waited for the group to catch up before she started talking, and read her comments directly from a printout from the Internet.  And she was somewhat buck-toothed.  When the walking tour ended, it started raining heavily, so we couldn't do much in what remained of our hour in Kotor.  We stood under an awning for much of that time.

Street in the old town, with the fortress framed above.

Same shot without a flash.  More realistic, but you can't see the fortress.

Mountainside and fortress, outside the walled city/old town.

Zoom on fortress.

Here's a scan of the map we were given on the boat.  Starting point Tivat is right of center; Herceg Novi on the left; Zanjic and Plava Spilja out toward the sea; Gospa od Skrpjela north of Tivat in that more-secluded bay (under where it says Risanski Zaliv); and Kotor is on the far right.

The minibus arrived at 6:30pm to take us back to Budva.  We got back to the hotel at 7:15pm.  I didn't need a full shower but I rinsed the salt off much of me.  Then I was craving Chinese food so I went to a place Gorana pointed out near what we knew as "Palacinke Square".  She said a Chinese guy ran the place and he was always there.  ("He always here.  He live on Park Avenue!")  But when I placed my order he was nowhere to be seen.  I was disappointed--I thought I was getting food from a Chineeese person.  Later I saw the "owner" show up.  Or maybe he wasn't the owner.  We were a block from the post office so perhaps he was just honorable Chinaman showing us which way to Chinese restaurant.  (Oh yeah.  I just worked Chinese-related references from three separate Seinfeld episodes into a single anecdote.  I'm that damn good.)  Charles and Jung showed up at this place, and talked with the owner to practice their Chinese.

After dinner, around 9pm, I searched for a place to drink until 10:30pm, when we were supposed to meet Gorana for a night of partying.  I tried Oaza again and Cristy, Sue, Jeremy and Hiedi already there.  Sue had the prawns again, and complained that they were not as garlicky.  I had 2 1/2-L beers.  While drinking I realized that I'd forgotten to brush my hair after my shower, and likely looked goofy.  Jeremy scratched his head at this, as if to say that thick lustrous hair is very important to him.  I don't know what he was saying, but it was the same scratch George did.

At 10:30pm a couple of us met Gorana and her Aussie friend (a very sexy dancer) who had been on the boat with us all day.  We were supposed to go to one of the clubs on Mediteranska, but rain erupted, so Gorana issued rain checks, with vague redemption terms.  While waiting under an awning amid the heaviest rainfall, I saw 3 kids (possibly Albanian) corner a frightened dog and kick it.  I yelled at the retarded little hoodlums.  No surprise that Albanians are hated in both Croatia and Greece.  I don't mean to make a generalization though...John Belushi was Albanian, which obviously cancels everything else out.  So with partying postponed, we returned to the hotel and I went to bed at 11pm.