952, 953, 954 ...........and so it went on .... all the way to 1,350 - the number of stairs it takes to scale the fortress walls on the hill.
It was undoubtedly the best way to view the spectacularly located town of Kotor in the Bay of Kotor (Kotorska). Montengro’s famous port has had a very colourful land and maritime history, fighting off invaders over the centuries. It was not uncommon for pirates to attack the local ships as they transported cargo across the merchant shipping lanes between Italy and the Baltic ports and many of the boats carried up to forty guns, rifles and swords to protect their precious cargo.
Kotor also served as an important naval location during both World Wars but the modern-day maritime action is limited to the constant arrival of cruise ships, whose passengers descend on the small town in their masses.
Almost fjord-like, the bay makes for spectacular kayaking and I was very lucky to be out on the water on one of the few days when there was not a cruise ship in town. I felt a bit silly saying “Wow!” out loud to myself so often, but it really is that kind of place. The surrounding limestone mountains dwarf all else and I couldn’t stop staring at them.
The Stari Grad (old town) is a gorgeous maze of winding streets, churches, cafes and cats (the most cats I’ve ever seen in one place) - all enclosed within the fortified walls. After four days in the town, I still managed to get lost at some point every day and find a new laneway to try.
But for now I am in Podgorica, the capital of this small, but stunning country. As cities go, it will never win any prizes for beauty, charm or congeniality, but I don’t mind. My room has cable TV. With English-speaking programs. And a Snickers Bar in the fridge. After having had almost no television for the whole trip, I am finding myself completely entranced by a show about how screwdrivers are made.
Tonight it is the simple, familiar things that are providing more interest than any century-old church or fortress ever could.