Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oceania Cruise: Kotor, Montenegro

This is the third in a series covering Oceania’s “Grecian Glory” cruise of their new ship, Marina. We’ve so far visited Venice, Italy and Dubrovnik, Croatia.


(Photo from Oceania Cruises)
Oceania's Marina


After Marina’s stop in Dubrovnik (the actual cruise will take place in May 2011) it will cruise about 30 miles south to Montenegro.

We rarely ever hear mention of Montenegro (it means “black mountain”). Other than that it was one of six republics that made up the former Yugoslavia, I knew very little about this pearl on the Adriatic Sea.


I was surprised to learn that Montenegro was included in Yahoo’s "10 Top Hot Spots of 2009." The article referred to it as “this gem of a country,” spoke of its “medieval cities and ancient monasteries, over 200 miles of coastline, a plethora of beaches, soaring Dinaric Alps, four national parks, and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” and added that it “ranked as the second fastest growing tourism market in the world (falling just behind China),” (http://travel.yahoo.com/p-interests-24784785).

 
This sounds like a place we should know about!


Marina’s stop will be in the coastal town of Kotor, which several sources said is one of the best preserved and most beautiful medieval fortified towns in the Mediterranean region. Built largely between the 12th to 14th centuries—but with some earlier architecture, including a 9th century city gate—the town is included on UNESCO's “The World Natural and Cultural Inheritance” list.


We can walk through Kotor’s charming narrow streets, or atop its imposing city wall. The latter is more than 2.5 miles in length, 66 feet tall, and 49 feet wide! The Fortress of Saint Ivan can be reached by walking the walls to the top of the ramparts for the best vantage point of Kotor—from the top.



(Photo from www.worldisround.com/articles220816/photo62.html)
Ancient Romanesque architecture,
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon



The most representative monument of Roman architecture in the Adriatic, according to Discover-Montenegro.com, is the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. It was constructed in 1166 on the ruins of a 9th century temple, then restored in the 17th century, after an earthquake. When seen from the front, the right tower is more ornate than the left. The suspected reason is that the builders ran out of money.


Kotor Bay is often referred to as Europe’s southernmost fjord, though it’s really a 17-mile long, submerged river canyon. From photos on Flickr.com, it looks gorgeous!

(Photo from Kotor-Bay.com)

Kotor is located at most secluded part of Kotor Bay (the bottom of that dip on the upper right), so it should prove to be a cruise of exceptional beauty, navigating between mountains and limestone cliffs of over 6200 feet.


(Photo courtesy of Sandra Djurbuzovic, Studiodizajn.com)




ACCOMMODATIONS:

Though this series is following the itinerary of a specific cruise, the stated purpose of the blog is to pick my favorite hotel or vacation rental for each location. So for any who will be visiting Kotor by land, this section may be of interest.

It wasn’t surprising that I didn’t find hundreds of accommodations options in Kotor, but what was surprising—pleasantly so—was the percentage of findings that were updated, and fairly upscale. There was a definite ScheckTrek favorite, however!



The ScheckTrek pick for Kotor is Palazzo Radomiri. Though currently closed for renovations and due to reopen in the spring of 2011, I’m taking it on faith that the renovations will be in keeping with what we already see. If not, we’ll just enjoy the photos for now and search again when the time comes!



Palazzo Radomiri is an late 17th to early 18th century palace that’s been converted into a 4-star boutique hotel. (They call it a Baroque palace, but I'm not seeing that.)  Located on the coast, with a private dock, it has 2 apartments, 5 suites, and 5 rooms. The villa can be rented as a whole, subject to availability.
 

(Photo from maplandia.com)
I can agree that some of the decor is Baroque.



The feeling of this photo is quite different from the more ornate style above. I wonder if the remodel is moving more toward this, a fresher look.


(This and bathroom photo from http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/)
The Honeymoon (Junior) Suite

 
 
 






(Above two photos from www.holiday-rentals.co.uk


In honor of our cruising series, however, here’s another look at Oceania’s ship, Marina, with some photos of the Owner’s Suite.  Very, very nice.





Now that’s a head!
And looking ahead to next week: Corfu, Greece!





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