New Day…New Country Montenegro

David awoke and stepped out of his room to shower and there was his Dominatrix Inn Keeper standing in the hall with a tray for him!  She was in his face from his arrival to departure. He thanked her for the Coffee and she quickly reminded him she made Tea for him NOT coffee. He could take his TEA on the balcony when he finished.  He was packed and ready to get out of this nightmare not unlike Stephen King’s Misery.  She shook his hand and thanked him for allowing her to overcharge him and wished him a healthy journey.  

He stood out in the street with others waiting for the bus.  It was the only place with shade and this sun is HOT.  It was only 9am and he had to make the Main Station to get a ticket for the only bus to Kotor that left at 10:30am. He was anxious as it was Sunday and he got stuck in Quepos, Costa Rica one Sunday when the only bus was full and he forgot to reserve a space.  That costs him $100 for a Taxi to San Jose to catch his plane. He arrived just in time and though they advertised Visa the ticket seller said cash only.  He went to the ATM got cash and returned in time  to get the last ticket !   People  in line behind him now had to wait another day.  He checked his bag in storage to have a quick breakfast across the street.  Then he realized in his haste he had mislaid his ticket.  It wasn’t in his shirt pocket, his four pants pockets nor his 7 Jacket pockets.  Then he remembered getting his ATM Visa card from his suitcase to get money and replacing it in the suitcase.  He ran back and checked out his bag he just put in storage , looked in the special compartment where his Visa card was but NO ticket!  
He remembered throwing out his map of Dubrovnik as just extra trash to carry that he no longer needed.  There were three trash barrels near the ticket counter and he went through everyone but wasn’t even sure what the ticket looked like?  He ran back to the counter and the cashier remembered him. She thought he had put the ticket with his change money in his wallet but he didn’t.  He requested a reissue but she explained he got the last ticket and thier were none in the computer to issue.  He would have to explain to the driver and pay again for the seat he already paid for.  

The long awaited full bus arrived with two non English speaking drivers that wanted 10Kuna to put my bag in stowage. He explained he needed to buy a replacement ticket from them first and handed the driver some money.  He said no change…you change!  

There was a man from Israel there that was told he could just buy the ticket on the bus so he now was stuck with others and wanted to get us all together so we could negotiate a Taxi to Kotor. This sounded good and he was just waiting for the other two to join us before “Doing the Negotiation with the Taxi…claiming he had a lot of experience at this and we shouldn’t have to pay more that Twenty Euro.”  The other two travelers came over and said that the driver has room for all of us and we can pay on the bus.

 I for one jumped at this with the thought of having to return to Hostel Hell in the back of my mind.  I already had my bag tagged so jumped on the bus and readily found a seat as did the rest of the travelers.  The bus departed…we soon realized that it had no A/C or windows to open…only a vent in the roof.  We were all going to die!

This didn’t seem to faze the driver’s assistant and he came along collecting tickets or money and issuing tickets.  The lady next to me was carrying her backpack in her lap and he berated her for not putting in in stowage and demanded she pay the equivalent of $2 which is the cost.
She laughed at him and said she was carrying it to save $2 and refused to give him the money.  He was loud and boisterous with a long lecture but went on collecting his tickets.  He turned out to be a real character.  Sweat was literally pouring off of him, on to the money, and the tickets. He was oblivious to it all.   

The road along the Adriatic was a two lane , winding road that followed the inlets and  the peninsulas, so what appeared on the map to be only 300 km was in actuality twice that.    It was Sunday and a lot of families, campers and vacationers were returning home.  We were making good time until we approached the border and a line of traffic backed up for miles.  We had no A/C and if we had to wait we should all die for sure.  The driver simply moved into the oncoming traffic and started beeping with his assistant waving them off the road.  There were some places that we were facing an on coming transport truck or another bus and there was no room to move off the road.  The gruff assistant got off the bus and started directing everyone to move out of his way like a traffic cop so we could get by.  We were at the border crossing in 10 minutes while others were waiting hours!  It was hilarious to witness and would never have happened without these aggressive drivers.  When we did get to the border the assistant is out there with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth in 100% heat telling the other buses to let him through and bringing the border patrol to our bus first to expedite our trip.  

The bus was now in Montenegro on it’s way to Kotor.  Again the countryside was spectacular with high mountains of 1500 to 2000 meters dropping to azure blue waters and coastal resort towns with their red tile roofs and pebble beaches. These views were around every corner all the way along the coast until our final destination of Kotor.   

David knew the Montenegro Hostel was in the “Old Town” so was walking along with Offal, the Israeli. He was only stopping over to see Kotor on his way to a conference in Budva down the road. The Old City came in to view with a wall around it but looking up the mountain, you could see the wall extended all the way to the top and then back on the other side.  Maybe three miles but straight up the one side and down another!  Offal got all excited and bid me goodbye and he headed for the wall.  I’m hot, as it is now around 2:30 pm , so locate the Hostel and check in.  The young lady in charge felt so bad that I was paying for three people to have a private room .  She had friends in town that rented private rooms for much less money.  It was costing me about $65 a night and I had to share the bathroom but I was tired of travel at this point and need rest.  The young lady carried my heavy bag up four flights of stairs to my room in another building.  She insisted and took the bag from me.  She also took my laundry back to the hostel to wash for me.  I showered got out some clean clothes and was on my way back to the hostel to pay her when Offal came walking down the street having completely walked the entire wall all the way to the top of the mountain .  He said it was beautiful but don’t do it during the afternoon, do it in the morning…yeah right Offal.  He took off to get his bag and a ticket to Budva.  He had refused to pay for his bag storage until his return and berated me with a lecture about skin cancer, for not having a hat to protect myself from the sun.

David took another night in the hostel to give himself a break.  He toured the town and got lost at ever turn.  This is a maze of streets , loaded with primarily Italian tourists.  Marco Polo was born on the Island of Korcula on the Dalmatian coast.  The Romans occupied this area for sometime and a lot of Italians have summer homes here.  The Vatican arrived early on and you see Billboards along the roads of Pope Benedict waving or giving his blessing!  Churches are everywhere and you see people blessing themselves constantly.  It could be at a bus stop , when saying good-bye on the phone, especially when they step out of their house in the morning.  The older people especially.  Maybe I should start blessing myself everyday when I wake and thank God for another day?

The Bay of Kotor, on which the city is located is beautiful and a major destination for Sailboats, Yachts and Cruise lines.  I may go to Albania tomorrow but just to ride around … no organized tours or anything.  This is a time to regenerate my batteries, read and relax.  Three more days and I will be arriving at Muharem Beqaj’s (Burrito Mike, my Poker buddy from Anthem) home just outside of Tuzi for five days to visit and attend his Nephew’s wedding. Then I have to figure out how to get to Athens?

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