As we awoke in Dubrovnik something was different, no longer were we two travellers on a six month tour of Europe, we were now members of a fellowship – 13 Intrepid travellers crossing five countries in fourteen days. Our first quest was another circuit of the walls of Dubrovnik, and then it was into our transfer and off to Montenegro (luckily for us our large group size means that for the majority of the trip it is cost effective to travel in air conditioned private transfers rather than sweating it out on busses). Our first stop was the World Heritage site of Kotor – an ancient port on the Adriatic with huge fortifications built by the Venetians. After a quick lunch we headed into the Old Town, we made it past the random giant shark and a few of the more energetic members of the group decided to climb to the top of the mountain fortress. Not that those who chose to sit and have a frappe weren’t adventurous in their own way…
Ewe, Sharon, Peter and myself set off from the bottom optimistic that it wouldn’t take us to long to make it to the top, it was a scorching hot day but it didn’t look like too severe a climb. The pathway zig-zagged across the face of the mountain with some fairly severe stairs thrown into the equation and with the sun beating down on us we decided to stop at a small monastery half way up to catch our breath. The views were already spectacular here and Peter decided that he would sit in the monastery for a little while and catch us on the way back down. Our party now down to three we continued upwards, Ewe running a GoPro and selfie masterclass throughout the trek. My world class navigation skills took us slightly off course and we somehow ended up climbing through an abandoned tower rather than up the path… Potentially this was dangerous but it seemed like a shortcut at the time and we all made it through in the end. By the time we got to the top the reality of how far we had climbed was immediately apparent by how spectacular the views were, great place for a fortress, you could see for miles in very direction. By this stage we were fairly exhausted so we chilled out at the top for a bit and recovered before heading back down.
Once we got back to the bottom we found Jess, Peter and the rest of the gang relaxing in the shade with frappes and cold drinks. We were particularly excited to see Peter as there had been some speculation on the climb down that we had left him at the monastery for so long he may have become a monk, when he wasn’t there on our way past we feared he had gone crusading! Exhausted from their time in the Old Town Square sipping cool drinks Jess and Fiona suggested we headed to the water for a swim, a plan we climbers were happy to agree to.
During this swim we saw the floating selfie stick come out for the first of many appearances and Fiona and I made our debut on Ewe’s Instagram account @ewechoot, going out to his thirty thousand followers. After the swim we headed back into the Old Town for dinner, stopping to get a quick picture of our sensational team leader Tomi sitting on a giant park bench (I promise he isn’t pocket sized). The specialties of the restaurant we visited were squid stuffed with squid, squid stuffed with shrimp and stuffed peppers. Quite a few of us partook in these, it was a great dinner and over a few of the local beers everybody began to really loosen up and get to know each other. We had a great time and got to check out Kotor by night, which was stunning with the fortification lit up, on the way home. The next morning Ewe and I went for a run and then it was time to jump in the bus and head for Albania.
We arrived in Tirana late in the afternoon after a very windy trip through the mountains and immediately headed out for lunch at the top of the Sky Tower before meeting up with our guide and heading out on a walking tour of Albania’s capital. Our local guide and Tomi gave us a great tour of the city and explained its fairly brutal history, Tirana had essentially been an occupied city or under the rule of a harsh communist regime for thousands of years, only being self governed as a democratic and independent nation in it’s own right since early 1992. The majority of the architecture is still very much in a communist style, large and simple concrete apartments dominate the skyline, significant efforts have been put into beautifying the city and many of these buildings have been renovated and almost all repainted in a wide variety of bright colours. After the tour we enjoyed a great (and super cheap) dinner of giant crepes before turning in for the night.
We decided to take it easy and have a rest day the next day so whilst the majority of the group headed off in the bus for a few hours to visit a nearby township we stayed behind and explored the city, ate some crepes and went for a shop. Fiona, Jess and Trish were keen for some dress shopping so obviously the outcome was that after an hour and a half I was the only one who had made a purchase. During our exploration of the city we were almost ambushed by some gypsies if Jess is to be believed… As we roamed through the park around the lake a small child started whistling, within minutes another child rode past on a bike, luckily Jess figured out there plan and we rushed back to safety. The stress of this ordeal we meant that we needed to head out for a few drinks, after downing a couple of Leonidas cocktails I discovered I was able to move at the speed of light and stop traffic purely by force of will as seen in the pictures below.
The next day we were off to Lake Ohrid in Macedonia (FYROM), next update will be coming very soon!
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