The old town is a party zone. If you get a hotel in the centre you can expect the noise to continue until well after midnight. Even in hotels outside the city walls, the noise can drift across the rooftops into your room and keep you from a good night's sleep. If you are a light sleeper stay outside of the old town and bring some earplugs.
I didn't sense or see any trouble in Kotor's old town, although I did spy some scruffy children begging and watching the bags of restaurant goers outside the Astoria hotel. I guess there is some petty crime, but it didn't make me nervous at all to be walking about the town at any hour.
It is not as safe as you think. Just be careful and take it easy. There are many difficult and dangerous places to enter this fortress. But it is worth it when you get to the top and have the view over the city and the water. LOVELY!
Ok, they're not dangerous but you may be a little intimidated by the herds of goats you may encounter on the way up the hill towards the fortress. The goats can jump out from anywhere and travel in large herds which can block your path at intervals. As you approach most of the goats will scatter but we came across a few of the more steadfast 'leaders' who eyed us suspiciously as we approached and eyed us warily as we walked past. The only form of intimidation we came across during our entire Montenegro trip :)
Once you get used to them it is quite enjoyable to see them climb and jump effortlessly around the rocks and steep slopes of the mountainside. Takes them a fraction of the time to get up and down the hill than it took us!
As I mentioned in my intro page the steps which you climb on the way up to the fortress have been left largely untended, which adds to the unspoilt enjoyment of the climb but it does mean you have to watch your step on your way up. This is easier said than done, as the magnificent views to be enjoyed on your way up will distract your attention away from what is infront of you!!!
Many of the steps on the way up to the fortress and fortifications are loose and the paths can be a little overgrown in places. Coming from Western Europe you may be surprised that the route has been left so overgrown. 'Long may it last', I say. We are often too obsessed with safety...a but of care and common sense and you will have no problems climbing the mountain. A good pair of shoes or runners are recommended though. You don't want to tackle this climb in sandals or flip-flops.
There's a camp site very near the sea. Don't be fooled by the notion of tidelessness. We encountered an electric storm and, in spite of efforts by others to prevent it, our tents and bedding were soaked and we had to move during the night!
We found in August, 2007, that due to water shortages, the water in Kotor was turned off between 12.00 and 18.00 every day. This means no showers, or even toilets. The public toilets and restaurant toilets were closed between these times. We had an apartment and were able to store a small amount in a bucket!
Kotor is very much hemmed into a massive fjord and therefore there is only one road in and one road out. Scooters are available for hire, but i would be a bit wary of doing so: the roads are very narrow and not in the best condition to say the least and the locals' aggressive driving approach makes their Croatian neighbours look like defense driving champions.
In my four days i witnessed 4 different incidents: fortunately none were serious, but in two cases the car involved simply drove off leaving the scooter driver to pick themselves. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a very backwards approach to road safety here!
Take care to do what you need to do before going to the bus station. The toilet stinks, the flushing doesn't work. Sometimes there is a woman there selling you a few sheets of toilet paper, sometimes not. So if you have to go, bring your own paper. Bring wet napkins too, to wash yourself afterwards. The good thing about this toilet is that it is the "hole in the floor" type, that is you bend down and do your thing without getting in touch with anything. This kind of toilets was a lot more common all over Balkan 30 years ago. Nowadays you find clean facilities at most cafes and reataurants.
Back in Oct 2004, just as my friend and I had nearly finished our exhausting walk back down the side of the fjord via the steep ancient walls we were suddenly confronted by an extremely enraged elderly woman who started yelling at us in her own language and at one point picked up a rock and threw it towards us, which erupted againgst a wall (Careful, the old town's UNESCO listed!) We had absolutely no explanation for this and I know it was not due to the fact that we were doing anything wrong such as, dropping litter or vandalising things. I'm sure this was just a one-off incident, and don't let this put you off climbing the walls, as many people seem to do it daily. However, if anyone has any helpful info, please inform me!!
For those of you who have a quota of steps every day to maintain your awesome physique, it takes 1,350 steps to reach the fortress at the top of the wall. (I didn't actually count them - that's just what my guidebook says.) They are a tough 1,350 steps! These steps are not spaced like normal steps nor are they the typical height of normal steps. Therefore, they take a considerable amount of extra effort to climb.
Here I am huffing and puffing my way up the mountain with my husband, and before I did this, I thought I was in reasonably good shape. Fortunately, it was a cloudy day. I think I would have wilted away if it had been any hotter.
Nevertheless, the view you get along the way is worth it! Take a bottle of water. I didn't, but wished I had.
In Kotor, as well as entire Montenegro, everything is slow and easy, people will tell you "relax, take your time, where is the hurry?" So in case you want to do something, be prepared to unexpected delays and general carelessness from the locals. They are all friendly and chatty, but not really willing to move. :)
the water in kotor (old town) is salty most of the time, you cant drink it - but its ok to wash with. at certain times of the day it is replaced with normal running water. make sure you know when this is - my 'friends' forgot to mention this to me, so i spent most of the time showering in horrible salt water. *grin*
the fish is priced per kilo, so it looks much more expensive than the rest of the things on the menu. but an average portion is a quarter of a kilo - so you'd pay a quarter of the marked price. confusing, but dont let it put you off ordering the fish - its delightful
Most of you will be wondering about the political situation in Montenegro. I can assert it: no problems whatsoever! It's not affected by the Macedonian crisis either, although the two areas look so close on the map. You can enter Montenegro freely (with a visa, OK) and move around carelessly - well, with your ordinary common sense. It would be wise not to flash your new car because it can get stolen. Out VW Jetta (year 1986) was just one of the many, so we were off fine.