Montenegro – Get There
Our Montenegro Day Trip was part of our Croatia Tour with Gate1 Travel. That’s where most day trips to Montenegro start. The heavy rain the day before had given way to sunshine, which gave us lovely views of Old Town Dubrovnik from the viewpoint on the highway as we left Dubrovnik. Soon we crossed the border into Montenegro. The country of Montenegro wants to join the European Union but hasn’t been able to meet the strict entrance requirements yet. Trump falsely labeled Montenegrins as “very aggressive people” in 2017 as part of his political agenda. The bus ride to our first stop at Our Lady of the Rocks took about 1.5 hours.
Montenegro Day Trip – Our Lady of the Rocks
Our Lady of the Rocks is a church on a very small island in the Bay of Kotor. Our bus stopped at the village of Perast where we caught a small boat to the island. Legend says a portrait of the Virgin Mary was found on the small rock outcropping in the Bay of Kotor. When the painting was brought ashore, it mysteriously disappeared. Then they rediscovered the painting back on the rocks. People interpreted this as a sign from God. So, they carried rocks and stones by boat and used these to create a man-made island. Then they built a church on the man-made island to house the painting permanently. The painting still hangs over the altar at Our Lady of the Rocks to this day.
The unique part of Our Lady of the Rocks is the close association with the protection of sailors. When someone survives an incident at sea, the community makes donations which are permanently displayed in the church. The donations are often household items because these people were very poor. So, the church has become a historical archive of paintings, embroidery and cherished household items. For example, you will see several very old sewing machines, gardening tools and cooking utensils on display. Each year celebrations are held at the small island and efforts are made to add rocks to maintain the size of the island. Our Lady of the Rocks is strongly tied with the community in a manner that makes it one of the most unique churches in the world.
Montenegro Day Trip – Kotor
After our boat trip to Our Lady of the Rocks, we continued on by bus to the medieval walled city of Kotor. The ancient walls contrasted with the modern cruise ship docked right up against the old town. The cruise ship passengers out number the locals in Kotor. You enter Old Town Kotor through a gate in the Old Town walls. Old Town Kotor is like a smaller version of Dubrovnik with squares, churches and narrow alley ways. The local bakery was selling sandwiches and pizza at very inexpensive prices. I had the largest and best chocolate croissant imaginable for a lunch time dessert.
Wandering the streets, it only took a few minutes to discover two more city gates at the north and south end of town. The northern gate has a bridge crossing the river. The southern gate crosses water and pools that ebb and flow under the city walls. I particularly enjoyed St Nicholas Church and the small alcove altar behind it, which most tourists missed. If you have more time in Kotor, you can pay a small fee to hike up on the city walls. The city walls continue high up over the Old Town in a large triangular design that originally protected the city.