|Bay of Kotor from Igalo Spa in Montenegro|
|Lunch on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro|
In all fairness, we didn't really visit Montenegro. We didn't hob knob with James Bond and the high rollers on St. Stephen's Island; nor did we spend time on the Budva Coast with the Russian oligarchs. We did not even approach the interior, where the non-touristy locations exist. A true Montenegro exploration would have required at least a couple of weeks. We had only a few days. We spent those fewdays exploring Igalo and the Bay of Kotor.
|Simo Milosevic Institute or Igalo Spa|
|Lobby of Igalo Spa|
There were, apparently, many physical therapies and spa treatments available, as evidenced by the many people walking around in the hotel's white terry cloth robes (despite signs indicating that robes were not allowed in the dining room), and the long list of therapies provided by the front desk. However, all but the aesthetic therapies required a doctor's referral (doctor on site, but appointment necessary), and it was recommended to allow at least three weeks for the treatments to be most effective, so I ended up not getting any therapy. Most of the guests, however, seemed to be settled in for a longer-term therapeutical vacation on an organized tour. At least one wing of the institute seemed to be taken over by Norwegian(s) and another by Dutch. The cafe/bar and dining room were open and busy (although the food was awful), and the excursion desk seemed to be organizing day trips (at least in principle!).
The first room we were shown was in the stuffy older wing. We moved to the newer wing, which was less stuffy and looked out onto the the trees and singing birds. My brother and family got a three-room apartment in the newer wing, with a balcony out to the Bay of Kotor. About half of the rooms in the newer wing had remodeled bathrooms, which were large enough for wheelchairs to turn around and had showers with no thresholds. Unfortunately, from the room I saw, even these remodels had no bars around the toilet, and I question whether the doorway was wide enough to fit a wheelchair (in our older room, the doorway between the bedroom and bathroom was only 25" wide). The building was definitely original -- the tile floors and walls were cracking. But I hope it survives. It's beautiful and unique.
Igalo is a small seaside town attached to the larger city of Herceg Novi, famous for its spas, healing mud, and summer villa belonging to Tito. It boasts a promenade along the coast, with cafes, restaurants, and shops lining both sides, many with ramps up from the walkway. The path's surface changes between pavement, tile, and packed gravel.
|Medieval town of Perast and Bay of Kotor|
|"Our Lady of the Rocks" Church near Perast on Bay of Kotor|
Over-development and cruise ship traffic have affected the pristine atmosphere and even endangered the UNESCO status, but the gorgeous geography and picturesque old towns continue to enchant visitors and preserve the Bay's reputation. The narrow, one-lane roads can induce terror or a sort of driving Zen, encouraging travelers to slow down. This was especially true for our nine-passenger van. Usually cars cooperated, pulling over and backing up where necessary, The old cities along the Bay offer waterfront promenades, restaurants, and cafes. Traveling with kids (my pre-teen and teenage nieces and nephew), we also learned the prevalence of gelato.
|Walls of Kotor|
|Entrance to Kotor|
|One of Kotor's many cats|
The kids kept a running tally of healthy-looking (stray?) cats.
|Inside the walled city of Kotor|
The third wheel came in handy for maneuvering over the cobblestones, and a few strategically-placed ramps allowed us to wander through most of the city. It was an amazingly well-preserved, relatively not-crowded old town.
|Kotor Cathedral of St Tryphon (with ramp)|
|Trying to figure out how to go to the bathroom in Kotor|
|Dinner on the shores of the Bay of Kotor|
Next time -- moving up to Croatia!