When the Commodore and Sandy Lawson give you advice you take it. They told us we should see Ston and Polace, so we did that yesterday.
From Kobas, we turned left and anchored Mercier at the entrance to a narrow channel at Broce. We had spoken to crew of a motor yacht the night before and they advised leave the boat at Broce and go up the channel about a mile in the zodiak and we would be in Ston. The channel is 3 metres deep but silts up and that was too fine a match for Mercier’s 2.5 draft.
We followed the narrow channel past a few holiday houses, rounded a corner and saw the great wall of Ston lining the hilltop over the village reaching out to the nearby village of Mali Ston. When I saw the stairs going up to the wall, a sigh of relief escaped me. With Mercier at anchor back at Broce, James wouldn’t suggest we climb the steep stairs or walk the 5.5 kilometre walk around the perimeter.
Wiki says that this wall was built as a second line of defense for Dubrovnik and also as a defense for the precious salt pans which was a large commercial enterprise then and is still making salt today. The wall was completed in the 15th Century and the fortress town not only had protection, but was fully plumbed.
Miljet is a very long island and we had headwinds on the way there, but the day was warm and sunny. We made it to Polace in a few hours, it was like being in a very large Refuge Bay with small anchorages up to the main bay.
Here are a few photos, more about Polace tomorrow. If you want a challenge, there is a marathon in Ston.
Sunday saw us go to Dubrovnik Old Town for a last look, on our way into town however we counted five cruise ships and started making alternate plans. We thought we might go to some of the newer parts of Dubrovnik and since we had heard about the Orsan Yacht Club thought we might have a nice lunch there.
In the evening after exploring, lunching and doing a bit of shopping in New Dubrovnik, we went back to the Marina and swam in the cold refreshing pool, which is filled with water from a nearby mountain river. It is so cold but so refreshing.
We leave the next day for Kolocep, one of the Elafiti Islands just off Dubrovnik for a swim. We motored over to the bay of Slano before deciding we will continue on to Kobas a small fishing village with stern to moorings for the “guests” of the restaurants.
The cooking seems to be done in a massive outdoor over with the vegetables from the garden and fish, scallops, shrimp, sea urchins, mussels and oysters locally sourced.
There are three restaurants here and we pick the one with the deepest moorings: Niko’s Croatian food aka Konobas – Ribarska Kuca Niko. The bread was the best we have had in Montenegro or Croatia, coquilles St. Jacque were very tasty and the fish platter was lovely. We also had a very nice cheeky white chilled to perfection. In Italy you may pay E100 for a marina, in Croatia you pay E120 for marina and a two course meal.
We have enjoyed all the emails about places to go and restaurants here in Croatia. We are looking forward to catching up with Lesley in two weeks and maybe we will see Lauren before that. The Godson is departing for Australia without a visit this time, but we still love him.
The city walls of Dubrovnik deliver many exciting panoramas, you walk the perimeter of the city at varying heights and look inward into the resilient city or out to the busy sea. The walls are 1940 meters in length and up to 25 meters high. Dubrovnik Card also tells us that there are three forts, 16 towers and 6 bastions.
Today was forecast to be cloudy, possibly rainy and windy. We stowed everything down below on the boat and took the bus into town.
The merits of walking the bastion mean that you climb many stairs; the pay off is that the view is enhanced. You get a look at life not from street level but from a loftier perspective. We are view junkies, so we take the stairs.
We walk for a kilometer around the top of the wall from Pile Gate towards the Bokar fort and then on to the Fort of St John. The sky was grey but looking over the Ploce Gate and mountains behind the city, dark storm clouds were threatening. We thought this might be the right time for a lunch break.
We walked down into a labyrinth of tiny streets and looked for an indoor restaurant. We could see that awnings were not going to keep us dry. We passed a few cafes, but a few large raindrops focussed the mind. We found a table free and ducked in for a dry lunch in a nice little Italian.
After lunch we decide some indoor activities were in order and we went to the Rector’s Palace followed by the Maritime Museum.
Three hours after those early raindrops, the skies cleared and we resumed the walk of the bastions with some lovely vistas.
Congratulations to Ben and Jacqueline for making my cousins, Lorraine and Fred, Grandparents. Welcome to the world, Aiden. Happy Birthday to cousin Sonya, & pals Kim and Charlene. Hope you are all spoiled. It was Lorraine and Ben’s birthday recently but they were just waiting for another happy event. Auguri, to you all.
Yesterday we left sweet Montenegro and in a matter of minutes we were in Croatia; both the yellow flag and the Croatian flag were hoisted.
Although it was so close to Croatia, we had to motor a few hours to Cavtat, the first port of entry to clear customs. Cavtat is a small village with beautiful harbourside walks, a lovely harbour and a very villagey feel. We weren’t sure what to expect tying up for customs, anchor out in the harbour and go stern to the quay (dock, for my fellow Americans). Boats moving in and out as soon as they clear customs gives a feeling of franticness – ‘get me off this dock before some megayacht puts his anchor on top of mine and sends it to China’ kind of feeling.
We saw a few Aussie flags and swimmers passed by and said hello. It was Dennis and Bosjana, sailing on Sarayu from Mooloolaba. They have been sailing in Turkey and Greece, so had some information to help us with next year. We shared some of the local knowledge we gained from John and Tony in Porto Montenegro with them.
We moored in the harbour which meant swims and breeze on a local council mooring, slept well and woke to a sunny day in Cavtat. We took the zodiac into the village and went for a walk along the harbourside, a path that encircles the village.
Following a swim, we motored off to Dubrovnik. We did a sail past of the old town from the sea, then proceeded to the marina.
We are moored in ACI Marina, up the river from the old fortress town. We caught the bus into the old town and wandered through the marble paved streets.
Looking for a laundromat, we came across a cable car going up the mountain behind the Old Town. Instead we took the cable car up for the majestic overview. Here are some photos.
John Stephens recommended a trip up the mountain to the small village of Gornja Lastva and mentioned a restaurant. So we took a taxi up the slope of Vrmac Hill and the taxi driver dropped us off near an old cemetery. This is a tiny village of about 20 stone homes, with just one elderly lady who still lives here on her own. Many of the houses were damaged in the 1979 earthquake and only have one or two walls standing.
The church is the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary’s, built circa 1410. We tried the door but it was locked.
The view from the yard of the church was spectacular. Nearby there was a lady collecting some flowers and we asked her where the café was, she pointed to a house down the lane. Hesitantly, we wandered down the lane to the house/café.
They bring us mineral water and sit us in the shade under a giant pine tree, at 710M it is cooler than on the marina. There are a few people in the house preparing food and Emil comes and says hello. He apologises for his English but it is really pretty good. Emil is the last baby to be born in the village, but only comes back to put on Festas or like today, take in a tour group which comes by bus to see an authentic Montenegrin village.
Emil greeted the Tour group and took them for a tour of the church and the olive press. He then took them to the café with its little stands of local products; finally platters of olives, bread, cheese and prosciutto were brought out to them.
Emil then collected us and took us on the tour of the church and the olive press. Tiny bats flew around in the room with the olive press, because it has been dormant for about ten years.
When we got back to our table the friendly tour guide, Dolores from Kotor, had joined our table. One of the village gentlemen, explained to her that they were not a “classical style restaurant”, they only had the platters available.
Frosty and Louise have left us for a small Greek island, with a bar that you can drink at while your feet are wading in the water. After over 500 miles on Mercier, from Malta to Montenegro, another 10 hour drive with Rad through Albania, and a short taxi ride at 160Km per hour to Lefkada, we think they deserve a nice quiet drink with Marg. But we miss them. If you go into photo gallery and click on Kotor, you will see a few more photos of our stay in Montenegro.
John Stephens must have heard the sighs coming from Mercier and realised the loss of our playmates was causing us a bit of ennui, so he invited us to a party on Saturday night- a James Bond party. Well actually a Misahara jewelry launch* Hmm, what to wear? 35 degrees and sunny even at 6:00PM.
Porto Montenegro is glamourous and there were quite a few amazing dresses on the tall, slim local beauties. The violin & guitar duo added an air of sophistication to the event.
Conversations abounded about cruising in the local area and in Croatia with Aussies John Stephens and PM Marina Director Tony Browne. They are the fonts of local knowledge about sailing in this area.
Then came Bond – James Bond, he plummeted off the pontoon into the bay for a high speed chase of the bad guys. That will teach them to spike his drink. Too many photos to add to the page, but click on Photo Gallery and then Bond.
On Monday, we motored over to Kotorski Zaljev, first arriving at the Islands off Perast via narrow straits, with steep green hills on either side of the water way. Think of it as motoring from the RPA in Pittwater up to Cottage Point. Just past half way, we come to the Islands off Perast. We went to the northern end and put down the anchor and had a swim. It was like swimming in the ‘Sound of Music’ with a remarkably alpine look.
We were swimming in an ancient ‘fjord’ created as the result of a drowned river valley, but the steep sided mountains made us feel like we were in northern Europe. We admired both small islands both with churches and their spires.
Otok Gospa id Skrpjela or Our Lady of the Rocks has distinctive blue domes and is a manmade island. According to the Thompsons, the island was created by sinking captured pirate ships with stones and sinking them on the reef. In 1452, they found an icon of the Virgin Mary on a stone and in 1630 built a church to her. Every year on 22 July, the townspeople of Perast go out and drop a stone on the reef.
Right next store the island of Sveti Djordje, the site of a very rich Benedictine Abbey. The cypress trees surrounding the Church are striking.
Perast was on the way to Kotor, Mercier is too big to tie up on the quay, but we motored slowly by the UNESCO protected former Venetian maritime center. A city of Venetian style palazzos line the foreshore and go up into the hills.
One afternoon, we passed some very well dressed people in front of a lovely stone building and I wondered if they were going to a wedding. As we came nearer we could see they were at the elegant entrance to the fruit and vegetable store.
Approaching Kotor, you see striking mountains, a long fortress wall, used to protect the city and possibly a cruise ship. At the top of the mountain is the Fortress of St John with only 1350 stairs to reach the top. On Monday night, we sat on a rooftop having dinner, listening to music and decided we would start the climb at 8AM on the next morning.
Louise raced up the mountain, so she would have time to sketch with Frosty right behind her. James stayed with me, while I scheduled strategic stops to take early morning photos of Kotor and the bay.
We have been in some lovely marinas on this trip and last year as well, Bonifacio, Olbia and Puerto Cervo. Here in Montenegro, a large International consortium are building a world class marina to best design.
Their market is super yachts and even tiny yachts like Mercier, which are one tenth the size. The site was developed in 1889, as a naval base for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later used by the Yugoslav government for submarines.
Professional, helpful staff greets you on the harbour in a rubber duck, take you to your berth and someone is on the dock, to take your lines. Many marinas do this well. Assistance is so helpful saving us a jump onto the dock. What a view. There is a canal behind us and restaurants, shops and apartment buildings evoking a sense of Venice, which governed Montenegro for hundreds of years. Or as Louise puts it, everything is built on a human scale; the buildings complement each other and the waterfront. There are fountains, flowers and greenery as you walk through the village. The shopkeepers are very friendly; impressed we have come all the way from Australia. They are proud of their marina and their beautiful shops.
The showers are magnificent, clean and relaxing, so important to someone who has been dealing with birdbaths on a yacht with minimum water storage. But the feature they have done best is their waste management system. We do drink water from plastic bottles but we try to recycle where possible, to assuage the guilt. Generally, garbage is not done well in the Mediterranean, over flowing small bins and no separate bins for glass or plastic. Porto Montenegro marina have invested in a small building with the bins inside, lift a lid for trash, another for paper, glass and plastics. So clean and well kept. 5 gold stars!!
There are lovely restaurants which have indoor-outdoor seating and couches for a coffee with magazines provided and we were never rushed. We loved One, so comfortable in the heat of day. We did think Moritz Eis is great, so white and so cool and we love the flavours. Pear, Orange & ginger and lemon mint. Yum.
Another unusual and helpful feature is Yacht Assist or a concierge for Yachties. Louise and Frosty had to leave Mercier for a small Greek Island via Igoumentisa, Greece. They read about Porto Montenegro’s concierge program, so went and asked advice about how to get to Mitikas, Greece. Novi organized a car, which would take them at their convenience through Albania to Igoumentisa and they had a bit of a tour with Rad giving commentary as well. Having an Aussie, John Stephens, on board at Porto Montenegro is great. He is a great source of information about the Kotor Bay area of Montenegro and answers quite a few questions for us. The most perplexing question was: Why do so many boats in Montenegro wear a US flag? Because they can register online so easily out of Delaware. Very inexpensive and easy to do.
This is not a paid advertisement, I haven’t even rated a free gelato. I love their level of excellence and service. I hope a few other marinas take the recycling and waste management on board.