Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Kotor - Battlements Going up the Mountain. Occupation History; credit cards

Walled City of Kotor - Montenegro
Curtain Walls
Kotor, Montenegro, curtain walls

Curtain walls extend as a total barrier, often in a broad perimeter around a castle, here going up the mountain as an escape for an entire town, there, in the back.

Why need such extensive wall structures apart from the main walled town.  The separate curtain wall is a familiar sight in the Balkans, going up the mountains.  The curtain wall was needed because of the location of the town, at roadways and ports invaders used through the years. Occupation after occupation. With mountains as a backdrop, the city could be better defended, but. Kotor still has been in many hands - warfare upon warfare.

Occupation history:
  • Illyrian 300 BC or so (Old Greek),
  • Roman 168 BC,
  • Byzantine then until the 1100's,
  • Serbian to the 1300's,
  • then Hungary in the 1300's,
  • then Bosnian at the end of the 1300's,
  • Venetian in the 1400's as a voluntary transfer of protection against the Turks, and to 1797,
  • then Austrian to 1805,
  • Russian to 1807,
  • French to 1813, temporary fight for independence, lost, and
  • back to Austria to 1918,
  • liberation after WWI,
  • then the Germans,
  • and liberation from Germany 1944.
  • part of Yugoslavia,
  • then part of Serbia after the breakup of Yugoslavia, and
  • in 2006, independence from Serbia
Add to that plagues and earthquakes.
The city is over 2000 years old. No peace. There used to be an upper town and a lower town. See ://www.destination-montenegro.com/kotor-history.htm

Kotor - look closely at the mountain to see the curtain walls going up the side, another defense.

At Kotor, as in places in Croatia (especially Ston, see Croatia Road Ways, Ston post), you can see curtain walls going most all the way up a mountainside, with a large fortress at the top. These serve as another line of defense, if the the city walls are breached the population flees up the mountain. There is refuge there, better than below.

Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See whc.unesco.org/en/list/125; and thesalmons.org/lynn/wh-montenegro.

There are also palm trees, just as there are in the warm parts of Scotland even, and the old buildings. See the old town at www.photo-montenegro.com/home. Go further to these notations if that is helpful: php?akcija=rezpret&fKategorija=Kotor&fPodKategorija=Old+Town. Kotor was less damaged by invasions than many coastal towns, I understand. See www.matf.bg.ac.yu/konferencije/kotor/.

Getting around:

There are many ATM's, but you may find that only selected cards will work, and the money is not Euro. We ran into five currencies this trip - different in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. Some will accept Euro, but we preferred to use the country's cash and withdrew some for each day.

Credit cards.

Before you leave US: You should alert your credit card or debit card places that you will be in specific countries so they will not block your getting cash. We did that ahead of time, and still found that one card could not be used. Much fraud out there.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Kotor Bay. Perast Islands - on way to Kotor

Kotor Bay
Perast Islands
Drive to Kotor, Montenegro, Around the Bay
From Dubrovnik, Croatia, it is an easy drive to Kotor. Leave late in the day from Dubrovnik, spend the night anywhere, such as old Cavtat, on the Croatia side; and leave in the morning to catch the views to Kotor.  Montenegro: see the cities and descriptions at http://www.visit-montenegro.com/croatia-dubrovnik.htm/.
And, there are buses, of course, and rental cars from Cavtat for a day's junket.
For maps, see this site that covers all the old Yugoslavia countries, the Adriatic coast - at http://www.atlapedia.com/online/maps/physical/Slovenia_etc.htm; however, this site as others may not be updated as to the independence of Montenegro from Serbia in 2006, so check this one: ://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/yu.htm/

Kotor Bay, Montenegro, Our Lady of the Rock, Perast Islands; Island of St. George

The island of St. George, as well as Kotor itself, has a long history, from 229 BC as an Illyrian city, see http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Bay_of_Kotor
Our Lady of the Rock, Perast Islands, Kotor Bay, Montenegro

On the left, and in the center right, is on Our Lady of the Rock Island, off Perast, on the way to Kotor.

 The road goes around the equivalent of a fjord. See closeups at http://www.perast.com/html-ENGLESKI/islands.

 Navigate from the home page, using the further address information only as needed . Our Lady of the Rock is man-made - an island created over 550 years of dropping rocks on an underwater ledge, and then sinking captured ships over the same spot. Ingenious.
The buildings on the right are an island, really a reef, called the Island of St. George. It houses a Benedictine monastery. See more on the islands off Perast at www.montenegro.com/en/Fascinada,_Our_Lady_of_Skrpjel,_Perast_Islands.
This would be an excellent geo-tourism site because of the geological sites and attractions. See book "Geotourism" by Ross Dowling at http://elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/706060/description#description.

Kotor area- on the Balkan equivalent of a fjord

Near Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Kotor Bay, fjord, Montenegro

Here the mountains go right into the water, with little towns clinging around, and fortresses for last resort, up the cliff-side, fully walled. There are palm trees below, and where it is flat, lovely walled areas and twisting streets. This is a World Heritage area: see whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31&id_site=125.

Here is a summary of the town's history, and a fine photo gallery for Kotor at www.barakatravel.com/?action=galeria&galeriaId=68. Go to home page first at the dot com.

The Financial Times has an article including Budva, see issue April 26-27, 2008, at page 10 --A flawless pearl - for now, by James Owen.  He notes that Budva was flattened in 1979 by an earthquake.  The restorations are not evident - so well done that we thought they were original. This is different from Germany where the devastation from bombing was so extensive and covered so much, that the renovations and reconstructions look Botox.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cetinje. Is This Jovan Simonov Plamenac? Cetinje Memorial, Monastery area. WWI, WWII, Leader. Strove for Independence, Montenegro

The Firing Squad Memorial
Is This Jovan Plamenac
Jovan S. Plamenac
Behind the monastery at Cetinje is this memorial of a man tied and apparently killed by firing squad. We think we have found his identity, finally, through Wikipedia, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Plamenac/

See his biography at Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Princedom of Montenegro, Serb Land of Montenegro, History of Montenegro OnLine, at http://www.njegos.org/past/ministers.htm

Spellings from the Cyrillic alphabet and any foreign language into English produce many variations, so we will continue to look for his history.

This tentative identification has been years coming, and was found in front of our noses - Wikipedia. We were there in 2006.

Why the silence about him, an academic, a humanitarian? There is a splendid array of Cetinje photos in an online gallery at http://www.pbase.com/xerius/cetinje - see all the old embassy buildings - but even there no identification of the man at the stake here.
This does seem to be, from the background information given, Jovan Plamenac. Click on the photo caption and see the enlarged picture and read the caption in Cyrillic to check for us. Please.
Rough Biography of Jovan Plamenac, through WWI. We need to continue to WWII
1873-1944 - Information framework from Wikipedia, to be augmented as we learn more, here vastly condensed, giving gist only:
  • Montenegrin Serbian,
  • teacher,
  • Minister of Education,
  • Minister of the Interior, involved as such in the Balkan Wars,
  • berated King Nicholas for leaving the country WWI, 1916,
  • became Speaker of the Serbian National Assembly, Kingdom of Montenegro,
  • 1918 opposed unification of Serbia with Montenegro,
  • gathered armed forces to fight, Italian units repelled (here we get mixed with who were allies and who were axis in WWI in the Balkans, Italian as axis),
  • led the "Christmas Rebellion" at Cetinje against Italian forces, rallied peasants and others,
  • this time Allies including French defeated them,
  • guerrilla attacks went on for years,
  • Plamenac fled to Albania,
  • Nicholas in exile was critical of the insurgents, but appointed Plamenac to his government (alliances fluid during those times, apparently) in exile,
  • Plamenac continued to work for independence, against Serbian annexation,
  • League of Nations no help, none came,
  • blame for unrest fell on Italians and Plamenac,
  • Britain no help,
  • Plamenac wrote Woodrow Wilson,
  • and this goes on for more than we can learn now - have to go back to the WWII era
  • ultimately in WWII Plamenac apparently collaborated with the Nazis and was killed by firing squad, by the Allies
  • have to go back and read all that to see what happened. We are interested here: If the Allies were no help in Montenegrin independence from Serbia, and obtaining Montenegri independence were the life's work of a patriot, wouldn't a patriot go for help to the other side, regardless? Germans/Nazis were all over the Balkans - look at the Ustach government in neighboring Croatia. He was killed for collaborating with the Nazis? The Vatican collaborated also. See Croatian entries, Jasenovac death camp, Cardinal Stepinac, etc.
  • See Plamenac entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Plamenac.
Much more to be found out here - independence was achieved in 2006.
So: patriot, educated, cosmopolitan, sought independence.  The Axis Italians beat them back WWI, on the one side: Allied French beat them back when they tried again. 
WWII: Montenegro went with Germany that was occupying at the time in WWII, in this land that has been occupied by at least 8 nations in the last 1000 years, always occupied it; and the Allies kill him for collaborating.
There has to be more sense than that. Hold on.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cetinje - Monastery and caves.

Cetinje, Old Mountain Capitol, 1400's;
Elegant, 1700's rebuilt
Cetinje Monastery
Cetinje, Mongenegro, Monastery, Orthodox

Note the wheelchair for one of the worshippers, a young girl at services inside. Cetinje: To pronounce it, say the first C as a "ts." Say the J as a "y."
This is the old capital of Montenegro, with its historic monastery founded in 1484, rebuilt 1785. See http://www.montenegro.org/mon_cet.
Behind it are cave-cliff areas, with the memorial to a person apparently shot by firing squad, that we now think is Jovan Plamenac, WWI and WWII patriot seeking independence for Montenegro, see post at Montenegro Road Ways, Jovan Simonov Plamenac.
Shrines and caves are all around, and with young men coming and going in clusters, heads together. Was this because there was a vote coming up for independence or not, and people were being cautious in what they said around others. Also clusters of older men in overcoats, at the hotel and elsewhere, equally intent.
The monastery has had a variety of uses, while remaining a church. It housed the first schools, and once housed the manufacture of zinc cannon balls. See www.montenegro.org/mon_cet.
The area is rocky "karst" and the cliffs are riddled with tunnels and caves. Anyone hiding would be nearly impossible to find. See landscape photo at http://www.visit-montenegro.org/english/kultura/msv_petar.
The monastery there is one of the oldest and most revered in Montenegro. Symbolic. See www.cetinje.cg.yu/engleski/istorija/cetinjski_man. People carried a young girl from the wheelchair there, into the service.
Religious rivalry. Christians East and West.

This has been intense between the Orthodox Christians and the Roman Catholic Christians has been part of the landscape for over a thousand years. At least.
 There was a tragic culmination of it in the treatment of Orthodox in the Nazi era concentration camp at Jasenovac in Croatia, say the Orthodox, where Orthodox were killed while priests stood by, merely offering to convert the condemned to Catholicism before they were killed. Unrest by many who want to bring that issue into the open. See www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/063. See also Croatia Road Ways post: Jasenovac.
Roots of people's divisions - subterranean, bursting. Who to believe. Each believes self.
Attending the Orthodox service:
Stand in the back for a 10AM chanted service. People came and went during it. We stayed for nearly an hour. More about the monastery at http://www.barakatravel.com/?action=galeria&galeriaId=36. Many young men were there, and entire families, and this was on a non-holiday weekday.  Many of the young men gathered behind, at the memorial.
The wheelchair:  the monastery bells rang for the morning service, and a young girl, perhaps with cerebral palsy, was carried-helpwalked to it. There is her wheelchair. The church was full, but many people came and went, some stayed as we did. Standing. Relics are here, in the museum attached, with many guards.

Cetinje, Montenegro, Orthodox Monastery facade

Read the history of the monastery at http://forum.verujem.org/index.php?topic=8068.0/ This presents its story from the point of view of piety, tradition, the meaning of the place and its suffering.

Few websites convey the religious depth of a monastery like this one. Take time to read this one. It sounds like one of the monks wrote it. Salute the reverence, the relics.  Live the razing by the Turks, the rebuilding, the importance of foundations.
The monastery is the center of the universe for the monk, is written. It is Serbian Orthodox, and many Russian pilgrims come. See http://www.spc.rs/Vesti-2006/06/05-06-06-e.html/ In what ways do the various Orthodox churches differ? Need to find out.
The religious divisions in Montenegro show a strong majority of Orthodox: There are 74% Orthodox, 18% Muslim, 3.5% Roman Catholic, see US Embassy Religious Freedom Report 2008 at http://podgorica.usembassy.gov/religious_report_2008.html/
Behind the monastery is this shrine, a martyr from a modern war, we think Jovan Plamenac. His life extended from WWI, WWII.  He was killed by the French. There are fresh flowers, always the young men moving about. We kept at a distance. Other sites focus on the struggle for survival over the centuries, wars. See http://www.yuta.rs/en/TRAVELGUIDE/MontenegroM.asp/
The area is full of caves, for living, hiding, munitions.
Cetinje, Montenegro, cave area, behind monastery

This also would be an excellent geo-tourism site because of the geological sites and attractions, as we also suggest for Kotor Bay. See book "Geotourism" by Ross Dowling at this site: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/706060/description#description.
Montenegro is now independent, as of 6/06.
Centuries of struggle here, and in all the Western Balkans. The area has been a crossroads for monolithic and violent movements in religion, empire, and just plain greed-treachery. Hard to put it all together; but clearly the mountainous terrain made foreign settlement difficult. See http:////www.cetinje.cg.yu/engleski/istorija/istorija for History of Cetinje.
Can someone translate the shrine and email us so we can double check our identification as Plamenac?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Velika Plaza, Beach (Long Beach). Mountains, Resorts.

.Velika Plaza
The Financial Times, through James Owen, cites Velika Plaza as a flawless pearl, Financial Times, April 26-27, 2008.  Can it survive, can its spectacles of its coast and mountains, largely uninhabited, survive the coming tourism.
1.  Velika Plaza - There are apparently great waves here, at this The Adriatic Riviera. The area was heavily influenced by the Venetians, and little walled cities sprang up.

Fair use thumbnail: 

 This from http://www.viajes.es/europa/serbia

2. Ada Bojana - This is an island where the Bojana River enters the Adriatic Sea.  This thumbnail is from http://www.seebiz.eu/en/corporate/tourism/croatian-deep-blue-among-the-candidates-for-ada-bojana,12318.html/

See full size image 

3. Ulcinj - a small city not far from the beach, and we see that a water taxi is available

So much of Montenegro that we saw consisted of its fabulous mountains and fjords, that we thought this shoreline should also be mentioned.  Even the fort at the walled city of Budva is rocky.  The roads inland are fine, we found, and we do not mind long stretches of just the views, but others may want some other sights.  Is there still nudity at a German-favored vacation spot at Velike?

4. Island of Sveti Stefan - village turned into one big resort. It is owned by Aman Resorts Group. Russian investors are all over. Big villas on the shore.

5. Zabljak - Tito and his partisans were active in this area in World War II, and it is now a small ski resort. The water supply is limited to 8 hours a day, but the scenery is beautiful.