As I write this, I’m sitting in my bed in Kotor’s Old Town. It’s been a lazy day here at the hostel that I’m currently volunteering at. I woke late, walked to the bakery to get some pastries for breakfast, and helped Martin, my colleague, with a few check-ins. Tonight I’ll organise some sort of drinking games with the guests before taking them to Letrika, the best bar in the Old Town.
Tomorrow my day will be similar. Perhaps I’ll take a couple of hours to meander through the Old Town, getting lost down secret alleyways, drinking coffee and playing with cats. Maybe I’ll go to the beach and read my book, or buy some fresh veggies from the market.
It will be a simple day.
Every day here is simple.
This is why most people only spend a day or two here before taking off, claiming that there isn’t much going on in Kotor and that you can ‘do’ it in a day. They arrive, check in, take the 45 minute hike to the old fortress and spend 15 minutes wandering around the Old Town before deciding that Kotor has nothing more to offer and so they should take a bus to Dubrovnik to do exactly the same thing.
Perhaps they are right. There really isn’t much to ‘do’ here in Kotor. If you come here expecting a long list of sites to see and activities to do then you’ll be extremely disappointed. However, if you come to Kotor wanting nothing more than a place to just be, a place to sit, to think, and to breathe then you may begin to understand why I’ve made the decision to make a life here, at least for the time being.
The magic of Kotor cannot be expressed in words, even by a writer. As my friend Erika writes, Kotor is a place that just has to be felt.
I think probably this is the reason why I’ve put off writing about Kotor for so long. I first arrived in August, in the height of the summer, when you couldn’t move in the Old Town and when the locals were exasperated and just about done with everybody.
Even then, even when everybody was packed onto the beach like sardines, and the people from the cruise ships made daily life almost impossible, I still felt the magic of Kotor.
Perhaps it was the charming streets of the Old Town, the green shutters in every window and the winding staircases that lead to nowhere, or perhaps it was the smell of grilled seafood and steaming Turkish coffee wafting from every cafe or bar. It could have been something as small as the presence of hundreds of kittens running around, or as large as the mountains that envelop the bay, shielding the town from outside intruders.
I don’t know what it was, but it was something, and now, a couple of months later I’m back, and more in love than ever. I love strolling through the market admiring the fresh vegetables and homemade rakija. I love finding new alleyways and squares and shortcuts. I love helping our cook, Nada, prepare dinner for everyone before she blows a kiss and sends me on my way, and I love that she calls me her adopted daughter.
I love my hostel, Old Town Hostel, and how it’s my job to make sure the guests enjoy themselves here in this magical city, whether that be with cocktails by the pool, a dinner cruise, or simply just some conversation.
It’s only been 3 weeks since I started work here but I’ve already made some great friends, people that have extended their time in Kotor from 2 days to 2 weeks because they also got seduced by its charm and beauty. I love that I’m slowly getting to know the locals, and I love playing with Bobbi the kitten, who has decided that she now lives with us here in the hostel.
Sure, Kotor may not be a place with a long list of activities to check off a list, and it may pale in comparison to Budva when it comes to nightlife, but for me, Kotor is exactly where I need to be.
People can continue to come and go, taking a few photographs and buying a handful of souvenirs before moving on to their next destination, but I’ll be staying here a little longer.