Dubrovnik vs Kotor: Battle of the walled cities
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Over the last few days I’ve been in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Kotor, Montenegro. Two of the great walled cities. Both are full of rich, interesting history and are walled because they needed to keep The Orcs out back in the day or something.
But, do you really need to go to TWO walled cities? No, you don’t. It’s like, do you need to go to two cricket matches in your lifetime? Not really, once you’ve seen one, that’ll do. Sometimes even one is too much.
Both places are, besides the ubiquitous yachts and yacht shops, like being transported to a much cooler time. They’re like nothing you’ve seen before (except every week when you watch Game of Thrones). They’re bustling towns yet still have that medieval feel. One thing that stood out to me was the darkness. I’m used to being in major cities where even in the dead of night it never gets truly dark. Inside the fortifications of Kotor it gets professional dark. You know how in the depths of the ocean it gets so dark that the visibility is so nonexistent that the male deep sea squids keep on accidentally having sex with each other? Night time Kotor is even darker than that.
But which of the walled cities should you go too?
Firstly, a little bit about both:
Unbelievably touristy and frantic. I know I went in the middle of August but still, so busy. Dubrovnik, or to call it by it’s proper name; King’s Landing (they love all that), is in Croatia’s deep south and is, as you probably know, where they shoot Game of Thrones’ King’s Landing scenes.
Apparently, HBO pay Dubrovnik to shut down the entire city for a month every year so they can do their business, which must cost a bloody fortune. Dubrovnik is frequented pretty heavily by the cruise ship crowd but Game of Thrones seems to have brought a whole new generation of tourists to this Adriatic coastal city. I went on a Game of Thrones tour and it’s astounding how many young children know so much about the show. There is no way I’d have been allowed to watch that as a child. I realise children grow up playing Grand Theft Auto from the age of four and all that these days but Game of Thrones seems a bit much for the under 10s. But I suppose if all their mates are watching it then their parents don’t want their kids to be the only loser who hasn’t seen Khaleesi naked. At least I think that’s how I think parenting works.
George Bernard Shaw said; ‘Those who search for paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik’. It’s cool but that may have been a little bit of an overreaction. When walking through the cobbled streets of Dubrovnik, you’ll find a lot of souvenir shops that were once interesting sights. The city is definitely still a spectacle, though.
Montenegro is a little place on the Adriatic Coast. It’s becoming quite the tourist hotspot and has been called the next Croatia, which was the next Spain, which was the next France, which was the next Camber Sands, which was the next ‘laying around in your garden’. It’s in the third youngest country in the world. Only Kosovo and South Sudan are younger. But, like I said; Montenegro is a bloody new country. And when i say new. I mean NEW.
Things that are older than Montenegro:
- Nintendo Wii
- Bird Flu
- Lily from Modern Family
- Brokeback Mountain
- Suri Cruise
- The 40 Year-old Virgin
Montenegro used to be a part of a much larger country called Serbia and Montenegro. But, they split up a few years back due to Montenegrins calling for a referendum. They're still friends with Serbia and everything is fine now but everyone knows that Montenegro were the ones who initiated the break-up so Serbia probably feels a little embarrassed if anything. Why did they break up? It’s hard to say. Maybe Montenegro was tired of playing second-fiddle. I heard it’s because they wanted to be called Montenegro and Serbia.
The ancient walled city of Kotor is where I went. Some say Kotor contains the southernmost fjord in Europe. Well those people are idiots. It’s not a fjord, it's a ria. I could see it was a ria from a mile off. The old town of Kotor is something special; a lot of it is just yachting shops and overpriced restaurants but walking around such an ancient contained city almost feels like what walking around the white city of Gondor would be like. Except it’s not white. Kotor Old Town is one of those particularly old old towns which is so old that the roads don’t even have names (little inconvenient when it comes to directions).
Which one sounds cooler?
Dubrovnik call theirs the ‘Walls of Dubrovnik’, which isn’t the most creative, really. Kotor call theirs the ‘Fortifications of Kotor’. Which kind of sounds like an old wrestling tag-team.
VERDICT: Kotor edges it
Which has the cooler flag?
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Which has the best ‘big thing’?
What’s the big thing you’re supposed to do in each place? I.e. What’s their Statue of Liberty?
Both big things are to do with their walls. In Croatia you walk around the wall. In Montenegro, you climb up it. The Walls of Dubrovnik offers some stunning scenery and is easy enough to get around for even the least active of travellers. There are about 14 stairs all-in-all and the only issue is it’s a bit bloody crowded. Whilst walking around the walls, you’re nearly completely surrounded by water and you’ll find yourself overcome with an aggressive temptation to throw yourself off the side into the Adriatic. Mainly because it’s bloody hot but also because the water shimmers like someone just chucked a load of L’Oreal in there.
The Fortifications of Kotor aren’t as simple. To get to the top, you climb up St. John’s Fortress. it’s 1350 temperamental steps. For some reason, I decided to do this at noon when it was 38 degrees with a pair of shoes that have a history of letting me down at big moments.
Also I got saddled with someone from my hostel who, there’s not really a polite way of saying this, wasn’t quite up to the job. He was the Preston Lacy to my Johnny Knoxville, is what I’m saying. No one needs a two hour climb to become a four hour climb in the middle of Adriatic August.
Once at the top, the view is unbelievably worth it. I’d recommend taking a better pair of shoes than I did. Walking back down in a pair of emergency flip flops wasn’t a highlight. Flip flops and mountain descent are about as good a fit as Michael Gambon and the role of Dumbledore. Honestly whose idea was that? Remember when he shouted at Harry because he thought he put his name in the Goblet of Fire? What the hell was that about?? Dumbledore would never do that!
VERDICT: Kotor I reckon. Although maybe that’s just because it was so much effort getting up there that I needed to reassure myself it was worth it.
Which one’s ice-cream looks the most like ham?
Dubrovnik's just looks kind of normal, really.
Jesus Kotor’s looks SO much like ham.
VERDICT: Kotor’s looks so SO much like ham. They take this one. But really, there are no winners here.
FINAL SCORE: Kotor wins it. 4-0. But I’m going to go ahead to overrule the whole thing and say Dubrovnik is more worth a visit. The competition may have been a little flawed.
With thanks to Eurolines.