Turkey, Croatia, and a little bit in between – Planning a 36 day international trip for under $1.5k

Introduction

Planning

United First Class Portland to Houston

United Club Lounge Houston (International Terminal)

Turkish Airlines Business Class Houston to Istanbul

Turkish Airlines Domestic Lounge Istanbul

Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Denzli

Exploring Pamukkale and the Turquoise Coast

Holiday Inn Sisli – Istanbul

Radisson Blu Bosphorus Istanbul

Radisson Blu Sun Gardens Dubrovnik

Exploring Kotor

Hiking Durmitor National Park

Radisson Blu Resort Split

Lufthansa Economy Class Munich to Portland

The first stop on our exploration of Montenegro was the Bay of Kotor hidden by windy roads and mountains. When it’s revealed along the scenic highway of fruit stands and historical landmark signage the view is unbelievable and is one that still resonates with me.

Montenegro Map

Kotor is a medieval fort town just two hours away from the border of Dubrovnik, Croatia that’s sometimes described as a majestic fjord and majestic it is.

IMG_9570

Once you drive into Kotor, it doesn’t take long before you find yourself out of the town. Most of the towns in Montenegro are small and rural, but even though Kotor as a harbor town has a constant flow of cruise ship tourists, it is also small and if it wasn’t for the Gradske Zidine (palace walls), it may slip right by you.

Bay of Kotor

Old Town Kotor’s (Stari Grad) fort walls of the Castle of San Giovanni or St. John began construction during the 9th century and wraps around the steep hills to protect the city from invaders of the time. Now, Old Town is filled with souvenir shops, apartments, accommodations, seafood restaurants, cafes and tourists, but the one feature that stands out is the fort walls that extends for miles and rather than working to keep people out, it’s a reminder of Montenegro’s rich medieval history and the role that it played as a port town.

Fortress Walls

kotorchurch

The types of activities to do in Kotor are limited and really dependent on personal interests, but it would be a shame to miss the walk along the fort walls which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once you reach the fort, the location reveals some of the most breathtaking views of Kotor’s bay and mountains, especially at sunset.

Bay of Kotor

The sunset cascades over the Bay of Kotor turning the Adriatic into a golden sea

The sunset cascades over the Bay of Kotor turning the Adriatic into a golden sea

We began the walk at 6 p.m. to beat the crowds of cruise ship tourists, but the down side of that was that we were on a race with the sun because once it goes down the path is not lit to guide you down the uneven rocky path. It takes about 40 minutes of huffing and puffing, 1,350 steps and 1,200 meters to reach the fort.

A small section of the 1300 steps to get to the fortress

A small section of the 1300 steps to get to the fortress proves to be a workout, but the end result makes it all worthwhile

During the walk, you come across several medieval buildings including a church so if you give yourself more time you have the opportunity to explore and enjoy the historic buildings more intimately.

One of the few windowed views of the Bay of Kotor that was used by gaurds protecting the town from invaders.

One of the few windowed views from the fort of the Bay of Kotor that was used by guards to keep watch and protect the town from invaders.


Church along St. John's fortress

A church along St. John’s fortress

The wall is accessible beginning at 8 am until 8 pm for 3 Euros, but if you go outside of regular hours you can walk in for free of charge, but risk the issue of not being able to see the path you’re walking on.

Fortress Foot Bridge

Quick Tips:

  • If you are hungry after the hike along the wall, eat at Scorpio in Old Town. They offer an Adriatic-Montenegrin cuisine as well as live traditional music!
  • If you are arriving to Montenegro from Croatia, keep in mind that Montenegro is on the Euro and businesses will not accept the Croatian Kuna as a form of payment.

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About the author

Rand Shoaf

Introduced to traveling at a young age, Rand has since traveled to over 45 countries. Learning how to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses in college has allowed him to earn millions of travel miles and points. Using the same tips and tricks he writes about here has ultimately allowed him to explore the word for pennies on the dollar.