Friday, June 09, 2017

Montenegro and NATO. A vote Yes. Why does it matter?

We have so little history in the US. The governing group is a newcomer -- largely white European groups only reach back to the 17th Century or so.  This starting point excludes the earlier came-and-went earlier venturers like Brendan, Viking landings, and the indigenous (and later conquered) sustainers of old sustainable ways. Enter the exploitation era:  For many, that is all we know.

So, too, with Montenegro. A crossroads for trade and invasion, cultural exchange, violence, shifting power structures.  Exploiters came and went, but at least in Montenegro an identity survived that predated the invaders, I think, and drives for independence. Our own striving for independence was short, and against the immediate colonizer, Britain.  Theirs has endured for centuries.  More apt as a parallel to Montenegro is the striving for independence of our minority groups, long exploited and ongoing.

Montenegro, mountains, cliff roads.

So: We support NATO and Montenegro independence, but is it 'felt.'  Doubtful.  Foreign policy here has become fungible juggling.  See  We insult them. See

Montenegro.  Pending independence, then NATO.  Visit this crossroads through the mountains, with the sea immediately below, and experience a different mindset. We began at the coast, then drove inland and up to Cetinje, the old capital in days of intrigue and powers with their embassies now shabby, but the town full of students, long-established families, and all so proud of their "beautiful city." With its heavy Russian hand.

1. I stayed at the old Russian hotel in Cetinje with my son at the time of Montenegro's vote to separate from Serbia.  Tensions were high. Clusters of men at the hotel, heads turned; more clusters as we looked in the nearly empty dining room, looks our way, and finally a set of nods and we were shown to a room.  We ate at what we thought was a student restaurant.

2.  What's up? Can you tell us what the people think around here about the decision pending, for
independence?  No. Waiters slowly shook heads and tilted toward more groups of men.  Not comfortable.  And we were watched.

3.  Back at the hotel, I was tempted to look behind the big potted plants in the Russian hotel, and the clanking radiator in the room -- and did.  But why bother. It's only us.  Still, there was an atmosphere of fear, no freedom to discuss.  The current trigger for this recollection is

4.  Why the disregard.  No, Mr. Trump, no nation is too small to be considered fungible, not worth every effort we can extend to nurture autonomy.

The work toward incorporation has been ongoing, see  The Senate has advanced the idea, see

Keep it going over the finish line.  And go there. Beautiful, excellent food, friendly people, when there are not the clusters of suits.
So, as a tourist with no family or other stake in this lovely country, I hope it will stay toward NATO and that the US will come to its senses in fostering freedom anywhere.  Thanks.

Friday, January 06, 2017

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

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


Curtain walls;  These 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 ://

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; and

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 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

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.