25 May

Stari Grad (old town) Kotor is a fortress, with a wall surrounding it, and old churches and labyrinth alleys and stairways. It’s great. That’s all great, but then it’s built, squeezed in, between an Adriatic lagoon (full of party yachts floating on transparent, turquoise water) and a thousand meters of cliff, and the city wall zig-zags up the cliff – as if they feared attack from an army of mountain goats – to castle’s, churches and more fortress at the peak.* It’s incredible.

And you can spend 40 minutes walking up to the top on routes described as ‘low risk’, ‘increased risk’ and ‘high risk’. Only the bravest most energetic mountain goats go ‘high risk’.

It was on our way down a ‘low risk’ path that I became implicated in a pidgeon rescue. We spotted a guy up a tree, several meters below him the path and rocks, him inching along as the branches bent under his weight, trying to reach an upside down pidgeon, flapping but attached to the branch somewhere around it’s feet.

He was really high up, and had to inch a lot further out on that skinny branch, seriously risking his neck for a pidgeon. Nutter. The climber’s 2 friends, girls in summer dresses, were sitting on the stairway watching him quite prettily, and suddenly I understood / knew I had to do something.

I passed him a broom I found behind a stone Jesus-booth. When prodding the pidgeon didn’t work I climbed back up to pass him a penknife borrowed from an old man in the growing crowd. The climber sawed away for 20 minutes or so. The 2 girls in dresses held a white blanket underneath the tree like a couple of deluded firefighting angels. Eventually the climber, the hero, cut through the branch and I climbed up into a lower down tree to fetch the pidgeon, still attached. The deluded angels offered their white blanket but I politely declined. Turned out the pidgeon was attached by string. The crowd applauded the climber when I carried it down. Pidgeon rescued.

We stayed at the new Montenegro Freedom Hostel, which is fantastic. Like a boutique hotel. And the manager gave us all the free rakija we could drink. Which was greatly appreciated because nobody in the hostel could afford to go out to the bars or restaurants.

* Although the buildings at the top have been desecrated, presumably during the recent wars. Actually they only finished building it all 100 years ago and the whole section at the top is ruined. After 700 years of continous building. Amazing waste, but fun to scramble around.


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