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☀️ #41 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Kotor, Montenegro”🇲🇪(2017)

Montenegro logo

Good Morning friends! (dobro jutro) 😀  

Are you ready for a scorcher today? It’s going to hit 41˚C as the heat wave moves in! ☀️ Also i had no idea (until looking) that it’s our 41st day of our lockdown memory tour, fantastic! 😀   

We booked the “Blue Cave Speed Boat Tour” for today but this tour was cancelled (last minute) yesterday evening. The excursion team told us the Montenegro officials read that your were blind and said “A blind person cannot board a speed boat” so they cancelled it! We said “We’ve done much more challenging things than stepping onto a speed boat” but we acquiesced and asked if there were any other tours left.

They only had “Highlights of Montenegro” a 10-12 hour tour with lots of walking. I said “Wow this is going to be magnificently burning hot”…I wasn’t wrong! 😰 

Well let’s see what we’ll be doing… 

The port of Kotor finds a home on the world’s southernmost fjord – or the ‘Bride of the Adriatic’, as it’s also known. As places go, it’s beautiful. Think blue seas. A stony shore. Green mountains. All drenched in the heavenly scent of lemons, oranges, mimosas and camellias. And here’s your chance to explore this gorgeous part of the world.

First you’ll stop at the mountain village of Njegusi to taste the region’s delicious smoked ham and cheese. Stomach full, you’re ready for…

Cetinje. Known as the ‘Valley of Gods’, it was once the smallest European capital and it’s filled to bursting with beautiful buildings. Here you’ll visit the King Nikola’s palace before having some free time to stroll around. Next you’re off to…

Budva – the most popular tourist destination on Montenegro’s map. And quite rightly so. Beautiful architecture meets seductive sandy beaches in this spot. Perhaps that’s why lots of millionaires decide to live here.

Leaving the ship…

After another lovely breakfast we stepped off the ship. “Woah” i said whilst leaving the lovely cool ship and walking into a hot oven. “How can it be this hot already?” Sarah quickly replied “Oohhh that’s better the ship was freezing”. 🤣  

On the coach…

A photo of the narrow road taken from our front seats on the coach

Yay, the Thomson excursion team has made sure the tour guide saved us the front seats on the coach. The first challenge (for the excellent driver) was to climb the famous Kotor serpentine road. The road was simply amazing, and witnessing the driver expertly navigate the hairpin turns and narrow road was incredible. The guide passed a picture (see below) around the coach and Sarah took a photo of it so i could zoom in on my iMac at home…Thanks Sarah 😲 

The Kotor serpentine road winding up the side of the mountain.

Arriving at Njegusi…

 The serpentine was pretty quiet and didn’t have much traffic as it was still early morning. I’m not sure how he guided this massive coach up and around those bends without flying off the cliff, but i’m glad he did, lol! 😀  

We reached the top and the view was simply breathtaking! Sarah was stunned on it’s beauty and said “Wow you can just make out our ship all the way down there”. 😀 

Photo of Sarah stood in front of and incredible landscape of mountains and a valley looking right down to our ship in the sea a t the bottom

incredible shot of the surrounding mountains and then looking down to the ship at the bottom of the valley

Me in my tactical sun hat stood in front of the mountains and valley

Yay…I’m here too! I thought i’d add a photo of me just to make sure you knew i was here, and didn’t collapse into a pool of molten flesh after leaving the ship, lol! 🤣  

Sarah stood in front of the mountain top bar/restaurant

 The group headed into the mountain top restaurant and sat down at tables overlooking the stunning view. I don’t think anyone was hungry as the waiters place a humongous baguette filled with the legendary local ham and cheese in front of all of us. Everyone kept saying “We’ve only just had breakfast about an hour ago on the ship”, even i was struggling and i’m never full! 😀 The ham and cheese was super tasty and it would’ve been nice to take some home with us…But it was time to go!

 We had a few more minutes to take some photos of this stunning place as people were filtering onto the coach.

Me stood with the landscape of hills and the valley behind me

Beautiful landscape of the hills, mountains and down to the ship in the sea at the bottom of the valley

A view throught the mountains

Sarah waving stood in front of the ship right down in th bottom of the valley

 Ok just one more shot of Sarah waving and saying hello to you guys, then we really do have to get back on the coach. 😀  

On to the next stop…

It was late morning now and the serpentine started to get a little busier.

And then…

Photo to taken from our front seats in the coach of the very narrow road with a coach facing us and having to reverse

The coach hit the brakes, our group said “Wooaahhh” and the drivers sorted out a way to carry on. Our coach had to reverse (no idea how he did it) up the hill and around some corners until he found a little pull in. It had taken our driver over half an hour to pull off this manoeuvre, and after a round of applause he drove on.  

We arrived in Cetinje… 

Leaving the air conditioned coach and stepping out into the centre of a bubbling volcano (that’s what it felt like to me)we followed our guide towards the museum, but on the way he quickly stopped to talk to us about a church building.

Vlah church…

Old churh building amongost some trees

Walking along a track the guide pointed out this lovely old church building and started talking about it’s history.

From Wikipedia

The church was initially made of “plot” (Serbian: плот), i.e. of sticks, switches and mud. It was rebuilt three times. First as “suvomeđa” (Serbian: сувомеђа), which means of stones without mortar; then of “klačena” (Serbian: клачена), which is stones with lime mortar; and finally, in 1864 the church received its current form. A guard rail around the church was built in 1897 using barrels of Ottoman rifles captured in 1858 during the Battle of Grahovac. 

The part about the guard rail using barrels of Ottoman rifles captured in 1858 really stuck out to me. I hope my two quickly taken photos showed the guard rail? We didn’t get any closer as the guide was moving fast! 😢

a closer shot of Old churh building amongost some trees

Walking towards the Museum of King Nikola…

Wow it was hot, i’ve never experienced heat like this  before! The Caribbean heat is much different and there is always a cool breeze, but here there was no breeze and it just felt like my bones were being steamed in a cauldron of boiling water, whilst my skin was being attacked by a million angry wasps with mini switchblades  cutting into me! 🔥🔥🔥

Then out of nowhere…

Photo taken behind a secret black police car with the door open and in front is the president of Montenegro

I heard cars whiz past and stop close to us, car doors flew open and there was lots of commotion. 
 
I said “What’s happening? It sounds like the NCIS team has just pulled up and Gibbs and his special agents have just rushed out of their cars?!” I wasn’t too far wrong as it was the President of Montenegro and his bodyguards.
 
a little further away from the rear black car and looking round to the right at the president
 
The guide told us to stop and take shade under a tree for a while and he’ll go and sort out what to do next. He was away for quite a while and whilst he was gone Sarah said “Hey Steve there’s a statue over there let’s go and take a photo” i replied “it’s boiling out there i’m staying under this tree”, of course this reply didn’t work and Sarah stood me in front of the statue, lol! 😓   

Me stood under a statue in montenegro

The guide returned and told us that the President will be inside the museum we were about to be guided around. So we’ll have our break now of about an hour as another group was before us and will be first to go inside the museum. We won’t be able to go back to the lovely air conditioned coach but there is the main square just over there, and there are some shops and a cafe. As the group separated we walked towards the square.

Sarah said “There is not much here but this looks like a souvenir type shop. Let’s get you out of the heat before you explode”. It was a souvenir shop and we bought a lovely painted plate with Montenegro written on and it hangs above the doorway to our kitchen. 😀  

Montenegro plate

Heading out of the shop we walked around the corner and Sarah said “OOooohhhh look at that dress!!” I knew exactly what the noise meant (as i can’t see what i’m looking at, lol) and we walked towards the shop. The dress was hanging up outside the shop and Sarah was completely taken with it. she said “look at the design…it’s all handmade stitching, the colours are beautiful and it’s simply exquisite…I love it! 😍 

Inside the shop…

Minding the step into the shop Sarah had a little look around to see if she could see the dress (the one outside) anywhere inside the shop. The local woman behind the counter said “You like the dress?” as she held up a black dress that Sarah didn’t want or like. “No i wanted to ask about the dress outside” Sarah said whilst pointing out of the window. “This dress would look really nice on you!” the woman insisted, “no i don’t like that dress it’s too dark for me, do you have the orange and red flower dress that’s hanging up outside in my size?” 

The woman continued in her heavy accent “You don’t like? Why do you not like? It look lovely on you!” Just as I was thinking that we’d never get out of here without even looking at the dress the woman said “There is only 1 of the dress outside but this dress (the one she was holding) we have many. Sarah said whilst looking a little disappointed as there was only 1 of those amazing dresses “Could i have a look at it please and try it on?”

The woman finally put down the other dress and got the one from outside and passed it to Sarah. “Wow this is amazing but it’ll never fit” Sarah said whilst trying not to get too excited anymore, but she went over to the changing rooms and tried it on anyway.

“Wow, you look stunning” i said knowing she’s about to tell me i can’t see it very well anyway, lol! “It fits perfectly, i thought there would be no way it fits…I’ve just got to have it” Sarah said with a beaming smile on her face. 

Leaving the shop with Sarah (she’s super excited) still stunned that she’d got the only dress of that kind available and it fitted perfectly, we headed back towards the cafe.

The cafe…

It was really busy and it was the only cafe open around this square and everyone seemed to be here. There was a man selling cold bottles of water under a sheltered bit so we went and bought a couple. Sarah found the only 2 chairs left which were in the sun. As we sat down with a bottle of water each…

Sarah shouted “AArrggghhhh” and flew up out of her seat like i’d just pushed the ejector seat button! At the same time half of the contents of her water bottle hit me in the face and covered mostt of my shirt (i was glad of the cooling down). But i said “What’s just happened?” “Awww the burning hot arms of the chair scorched my forearms as i sat down!” Ouch…I can still feel it as i’m typing this! 🤕 

Leaving the cafe it was time to meet up with the group to have our guided tour around the museum. On the way Sarah found some art and a fantastic building.

Sarah stood in the bottom left of the shot of the old house fills the rest of the shot with a tree on the right

Museum of King Nikola…

This fascinating Museum used to be the royal palace of the Montenegrin King for more than 50 years. So once the president had left we had our chance to see it. 😀  

The museum guide took us around the house and explained the significance and rarity of many of the items on display. She brought it all to life with a passion and pride that left a lasting impression.

The museum has many rooms which were presented as they would have looked when used as a royal palace, including the king’s and queen’s bedrooms, reception rooms, official meeting rooms, etc, and the various displays included clothing, weapons, furniture, medals and flags and other regalia from this historical royal house.

The temperature outside was 41˚C but inside it felt even hotter. We were told not to lean on any hanging wall paintings but the heat coming off any one of our group could’ve melted the painting (and the frame) from 10 feet away! The museum was incredible but everyone was so hot they all just wanted to leave. 

Just enought time to take one more photo of my beautiful and lovely wife Sarah! ❤️  

Lovely Sarah walking towards us inf front of a lovely old building

Back on the coach…

“Aww feel that air conditioning” i said whilst trying not to melt Sarah with the heat emanating from me! ☀️

Wait a minute…Yes it’s that time again! 

The coach stopped just long enough for Sarah to take a couple of wonderful panoramas. 

Sarah panorama of the rolling mountainous hills

Another Sarah panorama of the sea surround by mountainous hills

Arriving in Budva…

The guide flew off the coach and continued walking at breakneck speed for about 10 minutes. Sarah and i were tripping up little curbs, dropping down slopes and even started falling away from the group at one stage…But then he stopped to  show us this beautiful place…

The church with the bell tower on the left

the sea with the coast line on left

The guide said we had an hour free time and to meet him back in the main square ( i think i know where that is, lol).  

Sarah instantly found a coffee shop and wondered if they did iced coffees like the ones we’d had in Greece? They did even better than that! Sarah got me a massive one and said “If you stand here in the shade of the coffee shop, i’m going to go and see if i can get onto the beach. “Ok i’ll not move”. I didn’t need to move as this iced coffee was incredible…It even had 2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream with a double espresso poured over the top. I talk about this coffee as many times as i can. Wow…The ice cold coffee contrasting that scorching sun, mmmmmm. ☀️ 

Yay, Sarah managed to get onto the beach and put her feet on the sand so we were both very happy! 😀  

Not sure why i took this photo of the path?

A squared stone pavement in the town

We met up with the group and followed the guide back to the coach, the air conditioning wasn’t even cooling me anymore i was just too hot. I’d been boiled for about 10 hours and i think it’s going to take about a week to cool down. 😓 

Back on the ship…

Wow what a day! 41˚C is the hottest Sarah & i have felt so far on our travels, and we always talk about this day. But first it’s time to meet Brian & Ann for the final time on this cruise .

You’ll never guess…??

During our lovely 4 course evening meal Brian & Ann gave us this lovely Montenegrian design wooden box as a gift. Ann said “We didn’t go on any trips today so we looked around the town. We found a craft store and found this lovely box, i knew you’d love it and we just had to buy it for you! We were blown away with their kindness and friendship and we keep this box on our sideboard in our living room. Oh we also still have the 2 chocolates inside which Ann was handing out on her birthday! 😀  

Montenegro box.jpg made from wood with an amazing colourful picture all ove the top

Back in the cabin…

We were disappointed not to find a folded towel creature on the bed on our last day of this wonderful cruise. But this was the first of 2 cruises Sarah managed to book at the same price as the Barbados cruise and stay we had to cancel. Sarah managed to book them a couple of months apart…But we’re going to jump ship (Thomson Spirit) and climb a board the Thomson Majesty and sail away to our next destination! 😀 ☀️ ☕ ⛴

We hope you’ve enjoyed being on this ‘Classical Greece’ cruise with us? Did you have a favourite place?

To be continued… 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day  ➡

☀️ #40 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Corfu, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

Corfu logo

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι) 😀  

Wow what a day yesterday, it’s time for a little relaxing today….

Glyfada Beach is a Blue Flag strip of sand on Corfu’s west coast. You’ll have three hours to enjoy it during this trip. The soft, golden sand unravels into a crystal-clear lagoon. While behind it, dramatic, tree-peppered cliffs tower over a smattering of shops and restaurants. You can be as relaxed or active as you like – top up your tan as you lie on a sunlounger*, or get stuck in with watersports*. There’s windsurfing, waterskiing and pedal boats up for grabs.

How does that sound for a relaxing day at the beach! ☀️  

On the dock…

After another lovely breakfast we got off the ship and met up with the excursion team who kindly showed us to our coach. This excursion is a really short one  and is only 3 hours long, but we thought that Sarah could swim and play in the sea whilst i had a lay down on a sun bed and go to sleep . 😴   

The coach dropped us off miles away from the beach and we had no idea which way to go. Sarah quickly guided (dragged) me as we needed to follow the other people from the coach. The other people soon split and went in multiple directions and we were soon left on our own. After a few wrong turns (about 15 minutes) we were walking along a path parallel to the beach. “This looks more like it” Sarah said as we were walking down the side of a white hotel looking place. “Wait a minute, they said there would be lots of shops and cafes etc and there are none here”. We continued walking towards what appeared to be an empty beach and Sarah said “No, not this way either, we’ve already been off the coach for about 30 minutes”. 

We started heading back to the parallel path and back down the side of the hotel when…

We heard “There’s Sarah and Steve” and a few seconds later Brian and Ann (friends we met on the captains night evening) were stood in front of us. “No way” i said “Fancy meeting you here?! How areyou doing?” They were not impressed and said “We were on the bus before yours and we’ve walked around the whole place and nothing is open! We’ve paid good money to be on this trip and there is nothing here worth while, we’ve wasted our money”. Sarah said “We’ve also been walking around for ages and your right…There is not much here. Shall we walk down here and see what’s on the beach?”. 

Shortly after reaching the beach Ann said “There’s a cafe type bar over there, let me treat you both to a drink and we can chat for a while and then see what else we can do”, “Wow thank you so much”. ☕ 😀  

The Cafe… 

The cafe overlooking the beach with lots of umbrellas outside for shade on the sun beds

It was a lovely little cafe/bar facing the sea (i think that’s what the photo shows above?) and when the waiter had put our drinks down on the table, Brian said “We enjoyed the meals you left when that huge man stole you from our table, lol” Ann said “Ooohhh yeah tell us what happened. Did you get arrested?” 🤣  

We had a great time unfolding the events of that evening and told them it was also our 10th wedding anniversary. they both said “We’ve been married 42 years this year, we married in 1975 as teenagers”. “Wow” i said “Congratulations…I was born in 1975 and it’s amazing to be married for that long”. 😀  Brian and Ann were from Yorkshire so when Sarah said she grew up in Yorkshire and her family were still there, the conversation kept flowing and we connected really well! Time also flew by as we were chatting, laughing and having a fantastic time after the day had started badly, and we were already half way through our excursion time.

Ann said “Hey…We’ve been chatting for ages don’t let us stop you having your time at the beach. Go and have some time to yourselves. You can leave your bags with us so you don’t need to carry them”. Brian added “I’ll get my iPad mini connected to the internet and show you some Facebook photos when you get back”. Sarah replied “I’m also on Facebook so we can add each other as friends too and stay in touch”. 

The beach…☀️  

Sara at the very bottom walking out to sea with the huge seascape in front of her

I love this photo of Sarah (above) i can spend ages just soaking it in. Sarah works in London and commutes for 3 hours (round trip) into the dull grey and back into the lush greens of home. Her eyes get burned out with all of the close built up areas of London, and they work hard focusing on all of the close up objects and this results in lots of eye strain…But when she is on the ship or on the beach she says “My eyes totally relax as they love not focusing on close up objects but they rest whilst looking into the distance”. 😀  

Knowing all of this, i don’t need to tell you that Sarah really enjoys herself when in the sea… 

Sarah lay down in the sea with a pier in the background

Oh yes I forgot to let you guys know…I’m actually here! I’m burning hot again but my tactical sun hat is working well! 😰  

selphie of me in my tactical sun hat with my face in the shade from my hat but the sun is shining all around

Back at the cafe…

We returned to the cafe after rinsing off the sand under a tap attached to the wall. Ooohhh that was a lovely cold tap, lol!  Brian said (whilst looking sad) “The cafe doesn’t have Wifi so i can’t connect my iPad to the internet” as Sarah said “Oh that’s a shame i was looking forwards to seeing some of your photos, and also searching for my profile and adding you as a friend”. I thought for a moment…”Wait a minute! I think i can do a ‘Personal Hot Spot’ on my iPhone if i have a cellular connection…I’ll just check”. 

I sat down a pulled my iPhone out of my pocket, plugged in my earphones and listened to my Voiceover screenreader. “Hey Brian, it says i have 3G so you’ll be able to connect and use my connection” “What? I don’t understand what you’ve just said?” After Sarah talked him through connecting via hot spot “Wow thanks, i’m not sure what you’ve just done but thanks” and he opened up Facebook! 😀  

Ann turned to me and said “How did you just manage to use your phone?” I turned down the speaking rate to normal and unplugged my earphones, i said “Can you hear it reading out the name of the apps on my home screen, it even puts a box (Voiceover Cursor’ around the app it’s reading out so you can follow along if you have low vision too. “Wow” Ann said “that’s amazing how it does that”. I said “And if i tap 4 times with 3 fingers it puts on a screen curtain “It’s gone off” Ann said “No, it appears that way but it has just made the screen black so i can have privacy too while i’m using my phone”. “Can you read messages too?” Sarah said whilst laughing “Oh no don’t get him started, we only have about an hour left and he’ll go on for ages”. We all started laughing. 🤣  

Time was simply flying by, and after more lovely conversations on an omnifarious amount of topics…It was time for us all to head back to the coach.

Back at the dock…

Walking off our coach(Brian & Ann had a different ticket)  and towards the port shop. Sarah said “Maybe this shop will have some souvenirs as all of the beach shops were closed?!” “I hope so” i said whilst following Sarah into the incredible air conditioned shop! “Hello again” Brian and Ann said “We’re looking for souvenirs as the beach shops were all closed” I said “Yeah that’s why we’re in here too, lol”.

The hand…

Brian, Ann and Sarah had already exited the shop, i was following a few steps behind as i let a man through as he seemed in a rush. I heard Sarah say “Come on Steve” and then a huge fit of laughter burst out of Ann…Then Brian…And finally Sarah! They were still doubled over in giggles as i got there. “Wow what happened” i said as i’d just carefully navigated the step upon leaving the shop. Ann said whilst giggling “Sarah just grabbed that other mans hand and pulled him out of the shop thinking it was you” Sarah still with an embarrassed laugh said “Come on you, you’ve caused enough trouble , lol!” Now we all burst out laughing! 🤣

Back on the ship…

Before heading back to our cabin Ann said “It’s my 70th Birthday today” “What?? You kept that quiet” Sarah and i said together whilst both in shock. Brian said “We booked this cruise for Ann’s 70th Birthday treat! Would you like to eat with us later to celebrate at the usual place? We meet you at 7pm outside”. Sarah said “Yes of course that will be lovely…And Happy Birthday Ann!” 😀  

Sarah instantly crafted a plan…The plan was to wait until the ship leaves the port so that the shops can open. Then we can find a birthday present for Ann before we meet them at 7pm outside the restaurant…She executed her plan perfectly and the present was lovely, Ann loved it! 😀  

Ann’s Birthday meal…

Photo of Brian and Ann taken from their Facebook page

⇧ Brian & Ann ⇧ 

We met up with Brian and Ann and sat down at a table for 6. There were another couple sitting down too (sorry forgot their names) but they were also from Yorkshire. Sarah & i thought they must be Brian and Ann’s friends but Ann said they’d just met them before we came in and we asked them to join us. 😀  

Brian whispered “Don’t say anything but i’ve arranged a special birthday cake for Ann and she doesn’t know.” “Aww fantastic” i said. And after our starters and main meals…It was time!

A small group of waiters led by a guitar player and all singing ‘Happy Birthday’ they arrived behind Ann. She started laughing as they played (and we all sang a long) the birthday song, and when we’d all finished another waiter placed the cake in front of Ann. She was beaming and happily surprised and thanked Brian profusely! ❤️

After a while Brian and Ann said “We can’t have the rest of the cake as it will make us ill, and the others don’t want it…Would you like to take the rest back to your cabin?” Sarah said “Wooahhh it’s pretty much all cream…Steve you’ll love it” i said “Well what can i say? If it will help you out then i’ll take this burden from you!” 🎂😀 

Back at the cabin…

We returned once more to our cabin and were met with yet another folded towel creature. 🐊 

photo of a towel creature lay on the bed

What a fantastic day! We thought this day would be one of the worst, as we only book a beach break when there are no other excursions available. But today was great and spending it with Brian and Ann was lovely…Oh they are also our Facebook friends now too. 😀    

Thank you all for joining us in Corfu. I hope you had a lovely time? But…We’re not finished yet,

To be continued… 

Our Route…..

On Tuesday evening Thomson Spirit sails to the port of Kotor, Montenegro. Where we’re expected to arrive on Wednesday morning having travelled 185 nautical miles at an average speed of 14 knots

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