We drove to Sarajevo from Kotor and arrived around 1630, after spending 6 hours or so on the road, easily finding our hotel near the Sarajevo old city – Hotel Sana. We pulled right in, took our bags out, and then we were shown where to park. We loved that parking was included in the rate, and it was in a safe, gated location as well. Check-in was smooth and we were shown to our rooms. There was a little confusion with the room configuration at first – apparently we had requested a room with two single beds accidentally – which got cleared up right away and we were moved to a double bed configuration. We also were confused about how to make the room darker (we had skylights) and the front-desk staff patiently explained how to use the very modern tech panel in the room to operate those windows. Wow, that was unexpected! This turned out to be a very modern hotel, and we liked everything about it except the lack of air conditioning. It gets to 25 Celsius in the room (77 Fahrenheit) without opening the skylights, yet if you open the skylights you get rain and noise….
Being on the road to Sarajevo from Kotor was some of the most surprisingly beautiful scenery we had enjoyed yet. We were ready to go, having spent a day in Kotor not doing much. It took about an hour to wind our way out of the Bay of Kotor (Brendan was driving today), and start to climb north through smaller Montenegrin mountains to a vista overlooking the bay. Then we continued to wind to the border crossing with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This crossing was pretty reasonable, but still took 30 minutes. And also this time, no random 5 Euro fee in bills and not coins on the entry in to Bosnia. We did alter our route slightly to what Google recommended as the fastest time to try to avoid a fairly mountainous and minor looking road in Montenegro, opting instead to head due west towards Bosnia. This put our border crossing earlier on the route. Unfortunately, the border crossing took a while as well – it wasn’t staffed to the level it needed to be to handle traffic, and it was confusing in that there were multiple lanes that eventually all merged together, giving people an opportunity to cut (which….
For the rest of the day, we were relaxing in Kotor – walking around souvenir shopping and admiring this beautiful UNESCO city in the (finally!) sunny weather. We were definitely not too tired from our late morning hike and felt energized to continue exploring the city. We found some cool bits of hidden art nestled throughout the city. The egg on the right was nestled in a courtyard, whose gates I had to open to find it. It didn’t seem private so I walked in to explore. Other tourists walking by saw what I was doing and pretty soon everyone flooded in. I also was able to take some time composing artistic photograph setups like this one. What a perfect day to spend relaxing in Kotor! We stopped for a bite to eat at Konoba Kantun and enjoyed some cold beverages (I’ve been enjoying the Aperol Spritz a little too much) and a cheese platter on their terrace in the square. Prices were very reasonable and the atmosphere was great for a late lunch/snack. We definitely felt like we were relaxing in Kotor, and were glad to get away from the crowds in the major squares. Continuing our quest for….
Since you can basically max out the Kotor old town and historical context in a day, we were able to use our second day to relax as well as hiking Kotor. Even though we only had 2 nights and not 3 in Kotor, this was an opportunity to take it easy that we relished. After an above average hotel breakfast (but nothing beat the breakfast we had in Ljubljana), we set out for hiking Kotor by finding the path up the mountain from an alleyway in the old town. We found it towards the west side after a bit of searching, and unfortunately were met by a pay gate. Brendan remembered reading something about there being a secondary entrance that was free outside the city, so we set out to find it. On our walk, we ran in to these cuties rambunctiously playing. The old name for Kotor, Cattaro, was certainly fitting. The free entrance to get up to the fortress and hiking Kotor was actually from a path behind the parking lot we used on the northwest side of the city. You can see the paid access path inside the city walls with the squiggly line. Here’s a view….
We wheeled our suitcases from the parking lot and easily found our lodging in Kotor, Hotel Vardar, at the end of the entrance square. Check-in was easy and they had a parking spot open up in their lot – farther away but 10 Euros a day. We immediately went and moved our car after checking in. This was a proper hotel, and we felt it was a huge upgrade since our Dubrovnik room – it was nice to have a little space. We set out to see the city for the remaining daylight hours and thought a walking tour would be a good idea. It was around 1630, however, and all the tour agencies were closed and next availability online would be the following day. So we went back to reception and asked if the hotel could arrange anything – and they did. A guide, Nina, showed up almost immediately, we negotiated a fair price of 30 Euros total and she met us back at 1800 to commence the tour. The weather held up at first, but after about 30 minutes it started to rain, then pour, then pour cats and dogs. In between, we still managed to have a….