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Thursday, September 22, 2016

9/13: Perast: A Montenegrin Gem

Since we had one more day in Kotor and had seen all we felt there was to see there, we decided to go on another day trip. 

Another mammoth ship had docked in Kotor overnight. I wonder if the town's inhabitants feel like they've been invaded every time one does although, of course, their livelihood depends on the revenues from the tourists.

This one was to Perast, a small town located only about 30 minutes away. Unfortunately, we had to wait at least that amount of time for the local bus to come and didn’t arrive in Perast until about noon.

It was so different from the walled city of Kotor as Perast had an air of a posh waterfront town, yet the feel of a fishing village. It was as if any cares we may have had in the world left upon arrival in this little piece of heaven on earth.

Our first stop was St. Nicholas Church, the town’s second oldest church. The new church was immediately behind it because of earthquake damage in 1667. The church itself is unfinished and, given that it was started in the 17th century and Kotor Bay’s Catholic community has decreased markedly since then, I suspect it will remain unfinished. 

It’s the only functioning Catholic  church in Perast after 550 years of being controlled by Catholic invaders from Venice and Austro-Hungary. The admission to the church and its museum was only one euro, about $1.10. We later joked it was the best euro we had ever spent!

All the lovely paintings in the church were done by T. Kokolia.

The old church was connected to the new church by the doorway here.
We saw some interesting paintings, silverware, bits of saints and embroidered vestments.

The church's 55m Bell Tower: The clock stopped with the town's last earthquake that occurred in the 1970s.

As you know from reading the posts, we’ve been up our share of bell towers and minarets already this trip and we’re only about quarter of the way in. The climb up this bell tower was more difficult than the others because we had to bend down in a number of spots because of the low roof that all but covered the steps in a number of places.

Photos going up the Bell Tower:

Luckily, we were rewarded with stunning views once we reached the top.

The water glistened like diamonds in the sun.
Two islands sit just off shore: one is natural with tall evergreens surrounding a monastery (and prohibited to visitors) and the other is manmade with a Catholic Church and an intriguing legend. It is said that in 1452 an icon of the Virgin Mary was found by two fishermen on a reef that was barely exposed above water. Over the centuries, people visited that reef and dropped stones into the water where the icon had appeared. The popularity of this ritual grew to the point that entire ships were loaded with rocks and sunk into the sea on the very spot. All of those stones, rocks and ships created an island. Every year on July 22nd, the locals row over with stones to continue the task.

On the way down the stairs, we actually had to go down backwards in certain spots in order to wriggle through. I wish you could have seen our contortions!

A travel writer described Perast as “looking as though a chunk of Venice has floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the bay.” Oh, to be able to write like that.
As we walked along the narrow two lane street, we saw more of the same type of embroidered items we had seen in Dubrovnik and elsewhere. The patterns and colors of the embroidery floss were all identical.
I marvelled how drivers contended when other cars or even buses came from the opposite direction on this narrow main street.
Figs anyone? You sure couldn't beat this price at over two pounds for about $2.25 from the roadside stand!

While walking along the single street in town, we had been approached by a number of men who said they could take us over to Lady of the Rock Island in their boats. The rates were all the same, just five euros each (about $6) for a return trip so we decided to do that next. We were told we’d have half an hour on the island and that reminded us right away of the half hour we’d only been given on the lovely island on the middle of Lake Bled back in Slovenia

We were assured that 30 minutes would be all that we needed and that proved to be correct this time as there was little to see and do on this tiny outcrop of land. 

The island's only shop:

We admired the magnificent but small Our Lady of the Rock Orthodox Church that was constructed in 1632 and is centered on the reef where the icon was seen. 

The church's front door:
We had, just moments before I took this photo, seen someone bend down imitating the same pose. Steven thought I was going to ask him to do the same. Now, why would I ever think of that!
His Nibs with St. George's Island in the background!

We actually had a few minutes to dangle our feet in the water.

On the seven minute boat ride back to Perast, the boat circled around St. George Island that is closed to the public. I noticed the sailboat that we followed for a few moments was flying a British flag.

We walked back through the village and waited a good while for the bus back to Kotor. Neither of us minded the wait with views like this though!
After relaxing back at the apartment in Kotor for a few hours, we walked along the waterfront and found a great restaurant to have a really nice dinner, not far at all from our tiny abode.

Views of Kotor's waterfront away from the monstrous ship:

Dinner on the waterfont: what a perfect way to end a lovely day. 

Posted from Skopje, Macedonia on September 22nd, 2016.

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