“Can we sail this boat into the Adriatic?”, I asked. “No, I don’t trust it. This is a bay boat”, captain Boris answered. Our 26-foot MacGreggor motor-sailor planed over the wind-rippled surface of the Bay of Kotor. Tacking into the wind, the main sail shifting from port to starboard, our heads ducking out of the path of the boom as Boris worked the lines.
Bull-like and tanned, Captain Boris’ white polo shirt covered a beer-keg stomach, his face shaded under a captains hat given to him by a Lake Michigan tanker pilot. Born and raised in the hamlet of Strp – a cluster of 20 or so ancient homes perched on the steep shores of Kotor Bay, Montenegro – our captain, operating on generations of hand-me-down local’s knowledge, shifted the sails at just the right time, filling the canvas with warm, early afternoon air pouring down the steep mountains rimming the bay, the sailboat angling back towards the dock.
This is stop two of a two-week whirlwind tour of Europe – my first venture into the Old Country – and the longest period we’ll have in one spot. Five days at the ‘Montenegro house’, the summer getaway belonging to my girlfriend’s father, whom I met for the first time at the tiny Podgorica airport a day prior… but that’s another story altogether. (The key points are, he is a former Russian soldier and I am still alive… We drank wine from a barrel and I didn’t crash his yacht. Things went well, I’d say).
Montenegro is dream of a place. Walking down the centuries-old cobble stones of the walled city of Kotor is like dropping in on an HBO special on Rome or perhaps an episode of The Game of Thrones (which was shot just down the road in Dubrovnik, Croatia). The central church in Kotor is 1200 years old. The night club just around the corner is significantly younger, but given the Mediterranean climate and general vacation-vibe, its not hard to picture Romans boozing and wenching while their trimarines bobbed in the bay just outside the city’s walls.
And the food. Amongst the freshest and best tasting I’ve had the pleasure of gorging on. Squid stuffed with mussels wrapped in cured meats = mega awesome. Four star meals on a two-star budget. The wine is even tasty to boot and everything is local. The local delicacy is Black Risotto, which is a kind of seafood salad where the arborio rice is dyed black from squid ink. Our hosts made theirs with bits of calamari and mussels. That alone is worth the flight (which isn’t much from any of the major Western European airports and even less if you’re coming from Moscow, which is less than three hours away, which makes Montenegro a go-to for vacationing Moskovites).
For the rest of the Euro Trip photos, check out these links to Flickr sets from each city we visited, roughly in the order we hit them. First was Paris, then Montenegro, Vienna (and Frankfurt) and Prague.
Along with being an amazing trip, this was my first crack at using my new Fuji X100 – one of the growing number of micro-4/3rds style cameras cropping up. It was a dream to use and its 35mm equivalent, f2 lens is ultra sharp. Sweet retro body style and leather case make it a pretty slick travel companion as well.