It seems that I needn’t have set my alarm for this morning, the Sunday church bells surround our hostel and clang though our third story windows as if the slatted wooden shutters wern’t even there.
Outside the sun is only just starting to illuminate the rough stones of the buildings; turning them a warm orange that glows in the fresh air. Normally it is hard to drag myself out of bed, but today I have made plans with myself and although the rest of the room stays asleep I slide out of my creaky top bunk and into some simple clothes for climbing.
Last night as we pulled in to Kotor we had all seen the zig zagging walls of an ancient ruin lit up on the side of the mountain and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to climb it. Although it was November, it was scheduled to be a hot day and I wanted to get the upwards hike over before the heat kicked in.
First I found a café for coffee and a croissant – my favourite breakfast. I ate it in a little square in front of a church made of white stone with intimidating twin bell towers and watched as old bent women dressed in black shuffled in and out.
The walk up the mountain began at the back of the town, you had to weave between peoples houses, constantly climbing, to find the start of the path. It quickly turned from warm smooth beige steps packed tightly together; in to a roughly paved gray stone road with a wall on one side to stop you from falling all the way to the foot of the mountain when you stumbled. In some parts there were walls on both sides of the track, the one on the mountain side rising up more than twice my height to support the next terrace. Sometimes the road was divided in to steps as well as a steep ramp, making me wonder if at some point this path was intended to be used by wagons as well as people.
Kotor is a tiny walled town in Montenegro. Wedged tightly between a lake and steep rocky mountains. it must have been an amazing stronghold in its time. This is what I saw the day I climbed above it all.