Alis Grave Nil

Sunday, 26 October 2014

First Stop Kotor, Montenegro

Early morning arrival in the Bay of Kotor
I had never heard of Kotor before our trip.  Its neighbours are Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. We got up early to see the beautiful bay surrounded by mountains.  It was like sailing through a fjord.  It was cool and misty and very quiet and peaceful. We stood on the balcony in our jimmy jams and enjoyed the beautiful views and the calmness of it all.

Then after breakfast we jumped into the tender boat with some other passengers and off we went to explore another new place. It is only a small town but it dates back to Ancient Roman times.  On disembarking the tender boat, we were instantly bombarded by touts trying to sell tours and taxi rides, which was a bit disconcerting to say the least.  We hurried through the crowd and went our own way, immediately finding the entrance to the old town.

The old town of Kotor
We wandered around looking in all the little shops and then found our way to the top of the town where there was an old stone path you could walk up to an ancient fortress. Malheureusement, we didn't make it to the fortress, chers amis. It was like climbing a mountain.  The path was all cobbled stones and there were rough steps at the side which were easier to walk up but it was so steep to climb up and we were gasping for breath after each section.  Can I just point out that we were not the only unfit people on the climb.  There were plenty of other tourists wheezing and gasping on their way up. Anyway, this is the photo we took when we got to the part where we couldn't take another step.

Kotor, Montenegro
Then it was downhill to a lovely café in the square for a cappuccino.


The next day we arrived at Corfu.  We woke up early again, eager to get out and explore some more. Now Roberto had brought a special baseball cap with him.  He had bought it on holiday in America many moons ago in the Kennedy Space Centre.  It was a 40th anniversary of NASA hat and he had been saving it for a special occasion (I think that must be a man thing). Anyway, somehow or other between walking from our cabin to the shuttle bus, he lost said hat.  I don't know how he did it (no, he wasn't wearing it at the time!) but I didn't hear the end of it. He bought another one in Corfu because it was really hot there but it just wasn't as special as his NASA one.  He kept complaining that some old b***d on the ship would be wearing it by now and when we got back to the ship, he was looking menacingly at all the people with beige baseball caps on, ready to pounce. 

The old town of Corfu.  I loved all the little shops,
especially the leather bag shops.

We had another sea day and then we arrived in Civitivecchia, Italy. We had checked out the train timetables to Rome before we went on the cruise.  We bought a return BIRG ticket for 12 Euros each, which was extremely cheap considering it was an hour's train journey to Rome and we could also use the ticket on the Metro and bus systems.  On arriving at Roma Ostiense station, we found the Metro and went two stops to Il Colosseo.

Photos taken and then it was back onto the Metro to San Pietro and the Vatican.  We didn't go into the Vatican because we didn't have time to wait for 3 hours, and to be honest, I wouldn't have waited for 3 hours anyway.  The queue must have been a mile long, if not longer.  It was as if people were waiting to see Jesus. I would like to have seen the Sistine Chapel but we  had less than a day to visit Rome and see as much as we could.
We had a walk round St Peter's Square because Roberto wanted to find the clues between the paving stones and solve the mystery of the Da Vinci code.  There were thousands of people there.  I mentioned the robbers at the gates because we had a look at the Vatican related souvenir tat on the stalls and shops and couldn't believe the prices.  If you wanted to buy rosary beads, they were 35 Euros on some stalls.  I would want diamond ones for that price. We also enquired in a shop about an SD card for Roberto's camera.  The price was 50 Euros, for the same one he bought in the UK for about £12. It disgusted me really because on all the streets we passed there were poor beggars lying there with limbs missing.  It was just awful and everyone was just walking past them - all those Christians. Jesus (if he really did exist) would definitely not have liked it. My early catholic brainwashing  came in handy as I was reminded of the story of Jesus in the temple:
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."   Matthew 21:12-13

Just for the record, I did have to look the quote up.  The brainwashing wasn't that effective. I'm not sure whether I was  having an off day but I just didn't like Rome.  Whether it was just the heat and the number of people but I wanted to run for the hills. Never mind, at least I can say I've seen some of it. The Italian trains were great - double deckers with very comfortable seats.  I thought we had made a mistake and gone into a first class carriage.  They were also slap bang on time in both directions.  We have a lot to learn from the Europeans about train travel.

Arrivederci Roma



  1. I am enjoying your account. Please go on.
    By the way I just came across a blog by a steward on board "The Ventura". It's called "Some Old Bastard on the Ship". A few days ago he wrote, "The British couple decided to vacate their cabin to have a look round Corfu Town. They were fussing in the corridor and the woman was yelling in a broad Scottish accent to hurry up as her trembling husband attempted to lock the door. It as at that moment I saw him drop his NASA baseball cap. Naturally I picked it up and took it back to my own cabin to add to my extensive collection of passengers' caps. The fellow was still fuming when he got back to the ship. His wife pushed him back in the cabin where they rowed noisily till dinnertime as I stood outside giggling like a schoolgirl."