The journey from Dubrovnik into Montenegro was breathtaking, with massive mountains, rugged and appearing recently hewn, plunging directly into the sea. I drove around the Bay of Kotor with the sunset, rather than taking the Kamenari – Lepetane ferry. Arriving in Kotor, I could see the chain of illuminated ramparts high above the Old Town.
In the morning I climbed 1,200m to the ruin of St. John’s Fortress and a beautiful view of mountains and bay with the triangle of the Old Town below. Kotor is another jewel, a medieval walled town, earthquake-repaired and well preserved.
Travelling gives time to think, but it also enables a switching-off of the thinking mind. There is something in new experiences which highlights or lengthens the gap between stimulus and response, enabling greater calmness and presence. As I explored the maze of Kotor’s streets, I realised that in more familiar situations, I was quicker to name, categorise and judge.
I decided to cross the Adriatic to Italy and so proceeded across the Albanian border and to Durres, to catch the ferry to Bari. Several children were begging at Durres port and I gave a young boy some coins when collecting my ticket. Whilst I was queuing in my car to board, the children were joined by a young woman carrying a baby. She and (with her help) the baby tapped on my window as I drove slowly towards the ship. I signalled that I had no more money, but she stayed alongside. My normal approach is not to give, with the thought that I thereby avoid maintaining the begging, or that the money will be misused in some way. She kept tapping and smiling. At the last moment I gave her ten Euros and as I boarded the ferry, I was surprised to feel my body flushed with warmth.
The first photograph below is of the Bay, taken in the evening on my journey to Kotor. The second is the same, but from St. John’s Fortress. You can see the triangle of Kotor below. The third and fourth, taken within the Old Town, demonstrate why I am not keen on flat mid-morning light. The last is of the Kampana Tower and Old Town Wall, with the Scurda river in the foreground.