Just a 55 mile (2 hour) drive from the growingly popular Dubrovnik, is the charming coastal town of Kotor in Montenegro. We ventured down for the day during our stay in Croatia without really knowing what to expect. Leaving Croatia and entering Montenegro was an easy border crossing and soon we were driving along the winding roads leading to Kotor.
We arrived in Kotor and immediately noticed the zig zagged ruins that laced up the mountainside.
We parked in the pay parking lot across from the entrance to old town. Our first stop was lunch at Tanjga Family Restaurant just a short walk to the south end of the bay. Tanjga Family Restaurant is small and cozy with a few booths. It basically consists of a grill and a deli case full of various raw meats, sausages and vegetables. You simply choose what you’d like them to grill for you and choose a side dish. The people who work there are friendly and the food is fantastic.
After lunch we made a consecutive decision that our first adventure would be to enter the medieval old town of Kotor and find our way to the start of the climb we noticed as we drove in. Old town is beautiful and charming. We didn’t ask for directions, we just explored, winding our way through the narrow, cobblestone streets. Eventually, with the help of two unexpected (and furry) friends we found the first steps that would lead us up to the Kotor Fortress which overlooks the bay.
Just before the narrow street with the base of the stairs we were greeted by a small, friendly pup and what appeared to be his larger buddy who would ultimately be our “guides” during our 1,350 stair climb up to the top.
We decided to follow the two dogs because, well, they seemed to know where they were going.
As soon as we started our ascent, the views of the Bay of Kotor began to come into focus. The surrounding mountains encircled the coastal town.
Climbing higher and higher along the switchback stone staircase, our little dog tour guides began running in front, always a few steps ahead. The smaller one would frequently stop, turn back to make sure we were still following, and then continue on. We continued on like this for a thousand stairs until we gradually came closer to reaching the top.
Just before the top, and at the base of the fortress walls, the little dog (who was established as the leader) took us off the stairs and around the side of the wall. There was a large portal-like opening that he jumped through and then came back as if to tell us to follow him.
Well, when a dog-tour guide tells you to climb through a ruin wall for no reason, you obviously go for it.
To our surprise, through the wall portal on the back side of the fortress there was a small trail down the hill to the small, beautiful and isolated St. John’s church.
We followed the little pups down to the church and explored around its crumbling and growth covered walls. After we’d taken plenty of pics, the dogs continued along a path that stretched around to an adjacent hill where we could see goats grazing on the side of steep green pasture lined with stones. The views changed from overlooking the old town to views of a grass covered valley.
We followed the little guides along the winding path until it stopped at a small farm. Entering through a creaky iron gate we entered what seemed to be someones home. On closer inspection there were seats and tables.
A kind young guy approached us and told us they make cheese and asked how we found the place. Our friend responded that we followed his dog (who had obviously intended to bring us there–a clever trick). The guy responded “that’s not my dog, that is your dog!” To which we replied, “this is not our dog.”
We were very confused and impressed with the mystery pup. We sat down and the friendly man offered us some cheese, a beer and a taste of homemade grappa. The view was splendid and the entire experience, as an unexpected adventure was a memory for a lifetime.
We headed back to the fortress, explored its ruins and then walked back down to old town.
As we were leaving old town our furry guide walked us out, across the street to our car, then back into old town (stopping at the cross walk for traffic like a person). Who that little tour guide was will forever remain a mystery and we like to think he’s still guiding tourists around Kotor to this day.