Friday, July 23, 2010

Bay of Kotor

Now Dubrovnik is well worth exploring, however, there are only so many times you want to go up those hills and once you’ve seen one store, you’ve pretty much seen them all. They do, however, for a fee, of course, have wonderful local tours that you can take to explore parts of the area. This led us on a trip to Montenegro.
We took off to explore the Bay of Kotor, a fabulous bay just down the coast from Dubrovnik with stunning, rugged views of the mountains and ocean. The coastline here is similar to Santa Barbara on the inland side with lots of mountains to drive along with the coast side being much more rugged and rocky with many small islands such as the Oregon coast has. After an hour’s drive…and two stops through border stops…we arrived at the bay. The bay is actually made up of 3 bays that come in from the ocean. It does have fishing facilities but no large docking area was apparent. It has a road that traverses around the entire area, weaving through small glens and wondrous mountain views.
There are two islands out in the middle of one of the bays; one holding a monastery and the other church called “Our Lady of the Rocks”. According to legend, fishermen saw Mary in the reef and began a ritual of dropping a stone on the spot every time they sailed by. They would also bury old boats there, filling them with rocks so that they would sink. Eventually, the island was born and they finally built the church upon it.
We boarded a small boat, sitting at the dock just waiting for people who wanted to go out to see the church. It is a central part of the local culture where they celebrate many different life events. There are a few outstanding things inside. In the sacristy there is an embroidery — a 25-year-long labor of love made by a local woman. It was very beautifully done with exquisite stitching and design, lovingly made with both silk and the woman's own hair. All of the cherubs that are found along border had the woman's hair used for their hair. As the years went by, the hair of the angels turned from dark brown to white. Humble and anonymous as she was, she had faith that her work was worthwhile and would be appreciated — as it is today, two centuries later, by travelers from around the world.
The paintings on the ceiling in the main chapel were all done by a single man over the course of years. His most outstanding one is a picture of Mary –ascending into heaven I believe. It is beautiful and very well preserved – quite amazing. He painted over 60 different pictures in the chapel, all of them in place.

Going around the bay did take quite a bit of time, being very windy, many villages and slow traveling. We spent the better part of the day driving around the bay but there was a shortcut for the way back. A ferry. It was a whole 5 minutes long, driving us across the bay, but cutting off about 2 hours worth of the trip. Shortest ferry I’ve ever been on!

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