At various points, the fjord narrowed to just 300 metres wide, and we made sharp turns to the left or the right as we passed historic church-topped little islands, and made our way down to the very end of the fjord to Kotor. Because of the twists and turns of the fjord, the town is virtually hidden from the sea, which in the Middle Ages made it the perfect place for its sea captains to use as a base in the dangerous, pirate-infested waters of the Adriatic.
Such was the prowess of Kotor's mariners, that this tiny little town grew incredibly wealthy from the 15th to the 18th centuries, which has left it with a wonderful array of beautiful stone buildings – renaissance palaces and baroque churches, all enclosed within its sturdy walls. In this period, the town became a satellite of the mighty Venetian Empire (as ever in this part of the world, the Winged Lion of Venice was much in evidence on its buildings), which allowed its sea captains to hone in on the lucrative trade between East and West.
Once on shore, we decided to take part in the definitive Kotor experience, climbing up its ancient city walls that take a steep snaking path up the precipitous mountainside, to the St John's Fortress, a full 230 metres above fjord-level, and a thigh-aching 1,300 steps up to the top. In between our struggles to breathe and keep climbing, the views over Kotor and the fjord were truly breathtaking, although we did question why they carried the walls on so high up the mountain, when surely they could have made it a bit lower. We struggled just to walk up there, so how they carried the cannons and all the ammunition and supplies that they needed, is beyond me. Fortunately, coming down was much easier than ascending, although I think we're going to be walking rather stiffly tomorrow.
Back down at the bottom, we just wandered at random around this tiny city's labyrinth of historic streets, passing more stray cats than even Greece or Turkey can boast per capita, and bumping into about 10 different wedding parties taking photos or singing merrily. These wedding parties gave the town a real life that stopped it from being too much of a time capsule or tourist trap.
Another wonderful day, in one of the most amazingly located towns in Europe.