~~~Still barely any photos until I can get my camera to show files on a computer ~~~
20th September, 23:36
Old Town Hostel, Kotor
+ Stunning, obviously; all mountains, mist, blue bay, and fortresses.
+ Had an outstanding margherita pizza earlier, definitely one of the best I’ve had. Loads of cheese and, curiously, a gravy boat of tomato puree sauce that you pour over it. Worked a treat. Good job, Pizzeria Sara.
+ The hostel is quaint and well-preserved, and there’s plenty offered for hostellees to do…
– But if the other hostellees don’t want to go on a tour of the nearby national park then it’s not happening.
– Which means that if you’ve been here for 3 days already, you’ll be a bit bored because it’s a small town and there’s not much to do.
– Especially not if it’s raining Biblical amounts outside. You know how a waterfall sounds? That’s how it has sounded outside for most of the day. Plan B: go to the beach! was thoroughly scuppered.
As a result of the above, I’m pretty bored right now.
I’m still weirdly tired and have mostly had early nights here, though they’ve been plagued by obnoxious dorm-mate incidents. The first night, which I’d spent at nearby Italian restaurant called Scala eating carbonara and hugely outstaying my welcome to watch the entire Chelsea v Schalke game/make embarrassing aroused noises when we had a shot on goal, proved that even I can be woken up mid-slumber when a loud crash at 3am roused me. Mainly because it sounded like someone had just smacked into, or possibly through, some glass. It later turned out to be a drunk girl faceplanting the impossible to open dorm door.
More loud noises continued into the night, which I am reliably informed involved a guy from outside the dorm trying to take advantage of her drunken state, while she thrashed around trying to get away from him. Eventually the Ozzie couple (who were the ones reliably informing me) threw him out and got the girl to sleep. Heroically, said girl had no hangover in the morning.
While this was occurring, a weird little troupe I’d encountered earlier were kicking up a fuss. They were comprised of two English guys – one who looked like a chubby cross between Stephen Marchant and Renton from Trainspotting, and one who was a younger but otherwise spot on ringer for Phil Jupitus – and an Italian called Diego with the world’s most annoying voice. Imagine a comedy Spanish-person-speaking-English accent in the tone and pitch of a mosquito’s whine and that’s pretty much how he sounded. They spent all of their time conspiring, arguing, or repeating banalities. Phil Jupitus styled himself as the mother, nagging Fat Renton to shower for the second time that day while Fat Renton did his best Kevin from Kevin & Perry impression and harrumphed that he didn’t want one, but as soon as he begrudgingly went to shower, Phil began slagging him off to Diego. I was sick of the sound of them after 15 minutes.
They left the next day, but the grass was not greener as they were replaced by three Dutch boys who made yer archetypal British lads look like Mother Teresa: from the moment they entered the room, they were on a three man mission to piss off everyone in it. Immediately they blared shit music from their phones, shouted at each other in Dutch, and turned the constantly wet-floored bathroom into playground by fucking about with the light switches in them while their brethren were having showers, much to the irritation of the hot, moody French guy in the bed next to me. During one such ‘hilarious’ session, I made the mistake of looking up; in the doorway of the bathroom next to my bed was one of the boys, stark naked and taking his time turning the light switch on. And, yes, the first thing I saw as my gaze travelled from my phone upwards was his penis (to quote a friend – about three inches of shaft, but no bellend). Despite my reputation as something of a pervert, this was really not what I wanted to see. [By an amazing, unplanned coincidence, this anecdote is regaled on page 69 of my journal. Yes, really.]
Thankfully they went out for a few hours after they’d put some clothes on, but were heard outside in the street at around 11pm, screaming, whooping and smashing bottles. This was followed by an absolutely livid female voice, screaming at them at the top of her lungs in rapid Montenegrin, after which they quietened down and I was able to sleep. Apparently they were a nuisance once more on returning to the dorm and had a standoff with the male half of the Ozzie couple, who yelled at them until they behaved. The reaction to their departure from the Italian girl who told me this the next day said it all; she closed her eyes, grinned, fist-pumped and let out a triumphant cry of “YESSS!”.
Prior to my audience with Dutch genitals I’d trawled through the Old Town, elbowing irritating cruise ship passengers out of the way down narrow streets before heading to the beach and having a paddle under glorious sunshine, later returning to the restaurant from the night before out of laziness and proximity. The staff remembered me from my long stay the night before and, accordingly, referred to me as Chelsea Girl.
Day Three started slowly until a familiar face entered the dorm; guided in by the receptionist, I saw Fabian – the mad Austrian of bongo-playing fame from Sarajevo. With a squeak of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” from me and a typically camp, enthusiastic “Hello!” from him, we embraced and caught up on our adventures from the past week. He had been to Albania, a “crazy country” where moonshine was served in abundance, which had apparently inured him to the effects of normal alcohol, and he was offered drugs by locals nearly as frequently. He went off to recuperate from the moonshine in a cafe while I ventured forth to tackle the daunting mountain behind the Old Town, near the top of which St John’s Fortress lay.
Deciding to forego food was a wise option; water, less so. It turned out that the fortress was 1400 steps and 1200m away, and I had chosen to do this in 24°C heat, in the blazing sunshine, in the early afternoon. It would have been a mission of great endurance for a fit person under these conditions; as a deeply unfit person, I was sorely tested. Every time I thought I was near the top, the fortress was – on closer inspection – still a distant speck with stairs and walls winding down around it.
Others were evidently struggling too, judging by the panting tourists resting on the walls and cries of “I can’t go on!” from an Australian mother to her son and husband. I took my time and – after nearly an hour of torturous climbing up tiny steps and precarious rocks, drenched in sweat and hair plastered to my face – FINALLY MADE IT TO THE TOP. The relief of getting there was more overwhelming than the view of the whole bay, which seemed a small gain for the effort of nearly keeling over.
I practically skipped back down the mountain after the fortress and view had exhausted their appeal, and spent several hours incapacitated in bed, legs shaking from exertion, until rallying for food and joining Fabian for the hostel’s Sangria Night downstairs. He’d befriended a German girl called Johanna, so the three of us drank the very strong sangria and went to find live music. Finding an outdoor pub where a live jazz band would be playing at 11, we went back to the hostel for one more glass of free sangria, meeting Joel, a Kiwi, and Sal, his Ozzie travel partner, and bringing them back to the pub.
It turned out to be not a jazz band but a screaming metal band with dodgy songs, but what they lacked in talent they made up for with a sizeable fanbase, judging by the lack of available seating. Tipsy from the sangria, I decided this should be no hindrance to my desire to be sedentary, and sat on the ground. This sparked a trend as the others joined me, though Joel disappeared to impress some girls with his jammy dance moves, and Fabian and Johanna returned to the hostel, leaving just me and Sal.
Here we bonded, and stuck together when Joel reappeared to lead us off to a club of sorts called Harlequin. Kotor is the least clubby place of all time, so it comes as no surprise that this place sucked proverbial balls. It was a tiny bar tucked down a side street, so small that the DJ was standing outside with all his equipment, and the revellers could only fit outside too. ‘Revellers’ is something of a misnomer, however, because it implies that people are enjoying themselves; not only was the music terrible, but the partygoers – an irrepressible Joel aside – were dancing so limply that it was like partying with zombies on heroin.
While the zombies shimmied and Joel impressed yet more girls with his conspicuously lively dancing, Sal and I had a deep conversation about boys, before intensely analysing whether the girl furiously grooving by the DJ booth was the DJ’s girlfriend or a determined groupie, and pondered why there were Muppets painted on the wall inside. At long last the DJ realised how awful his tunes were, and Joel solved our mystery – the girl was the DJ’s girlfriend after all. They told him they lived in Belgrade and that it was beautiful, which Joel relayed to Sal in an attempt to convince her to go. I soon set her straight on the ‘beautiful’ lie…
And then today. Big fat washed-out ball of nothingness, with the exception of partaking in some hardcore 20-something traveller behaviour and getting my laundry done. Clean laundry is truly one of the small pleasures in life.