Yesterday the captain mentioned that Azamara Quest would be sailing past the beautiful small islands of 'St George' and the 'Lady of the Rock' at about 7am, just before we dock in Kotor. Well I set my alarm but slept thru it and so missed them - I was pretty gutted as these look amazing and would make great photos - oh well I will have to wait until next time! I did get up on deck for about 8am, and missed them by a few minutes!
Located along one of Montenegro's most beautiful bays is Kotor, a city of traders and famous sailors. The Old City of Kotor is a well-preserved town typical of the middle Ages, and was built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor a UNESCO listed "World Natural and Historical Heritage Site" Through the entire city the buildings are criss-crossed with narrow streets and squares. Its imposing city walls zigzag 2.5 miles up steep mountains and end with the fortress of Kotor high up the hill overlooking the town and harbour. The Fortress of St. John (to give it its full title) is an impressive complex, and was built by the Venetians in the early 1400's as Kotor's primary fortification. To get to the top it's a steep climb with 1,300 steps - we decided to attempt to climb it!
It costs 3 Euros to get a ticket that allows you to climb the 2.5 mile long rocky stone steps that take you to the top. It's a hard slog, and with the sun beating down on you it's pretty tiring! We made frequent stops to enjoy the views (and have a drink), and every time we went up to the next level, the views just kept getting better and better! There are narrow stone steps and also a gravel path next to them to allow people to pass you coming down; its all a but "rustic" and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is not sure-footed. It took over an hour of climbing the 1,300 steps to get to the very top but the views were breath-taking. We had a great view of Azamara Quest, the whole bay, the mountains and even the towns in the far distance - it was a stunning vista and well worth the climb. I think I worked off my breakfast for sure! At the top, the fortress is a collection of ruins, covered in graffiti with rocky paths meandering throughout the complex. After taking numerous photos and soaking in the view it was time to head back down - so much easier on the legs - but it still took a good 40 minutes or more!
Arriving back in Kotor town we felt we really had earned a beer and so found a local restaurant and ordered two large glasses of local "Pivo" and kicked off our shoes! Man that beer tasted good after all that exercise! Then it clouded over fairly quickly and we could hear rumbles of thunder in the distance - it wasn't too long after that that the lightning came and the heavens opened - and it was torrential! Fortunately we were sitting under a large parasol so didn't get wet; others caught out in the street were not so lucky and got drenched. I felt sorry for anyone who was stuck up the mountain path - there was hardly any shelter up there.
We had a Greek salad here, and the ingredients were so fresh and tasty, especially the tomatoes, they were juicy and sweet and drizzled in olive oil - a far cry from the mass-produced ones we get at home. Once the rain stopped it was back into town for a mooch about.
Later back on board Azamara Quest we stopped by the Mosaic Café. This area is at the top of the impressive staircase leading up from the reception desk. We found a couple of seats and enjoyed a cappuccino and a cookie (ok it was like three cookies!) This is a relaxing area, great for reading a book, catching up with newly-made friends, having a sweet or savoury snack or just people watching. After a while one of the entertainment staff came round offering pencil and paper as there was a Food and Wine quiz taking place. We scored 12 out of 20, and were about 4th place! All the teas, coffees and snacks here are complimentary and it's a great place to visit.
Tonight's entertainer is Garin Bader - "the worlds finest piano virtuoso and master magician" so the blurb in the daily program goes - sounds intriguing!
After another yummy meal in the main dining room, we went to the cabaret lounge to see Garin Bader - an entertaining mix of incredible piano playing and magic, involving escapology, audience participation and slight of hand tricks - its sounds a bit of an odd mix but was actually very good.
Then it was upstairs to the Looking Glass lounge for "Abba Night". This involved the three lady singers dressed up in '70's gear singing Abba songs. Well they did one song then left, then the DJ played Abba hits - non-stop. Really. I mean one Abba song is OK but back-to-back bloody Abba? Please -it's too much! We didn't stay in the club that night and headed to the stateroom.