Good-Bye Sicily… HELLO MONTENEGRO!!!
I have noticed a pattern when we spend several weeks or even months in one location. I have itchy feet and dare I say, desperation, as the days turn into weeks, then weeks into months. When I think it is time to move on, I have no patience for waiting for the many other factors to fall in line to make that happen. Staying well past our prescribed time last year in Lagos, due to Covid, had me nearly apoplectic. While I wasn’t nearly as unsettled this year as last, I did fall into more “blue” mood than usual, and it lasted longer also.
Certainly, the loss of Whitney (our dear cat of 14 years) played a part. And the multiple 1.5-hour trips back and forth to Siracusa from Marina di Ragusa for the Veterinarian wore on us. But following her death, I was positively unhinged, and for the first time, I wondered if it wasn’t time for us to come home.
Small things, that my usual “optimistic self” ignored, weighed on me. Litter on the side of the road, the neglect for the stray animals, bureaucracy, and my inability to communicate all compounded to overwhelm. I had serious traveler’s fatigue.
Don’t get me wrong. We loved Sicily and we loved the friendships we formed there. Some of our “goodbyes” are more permanent and some were merely “so long, we will see you again soon”. But all the partings involved a further descent into melancholy. But we were on the move again and that brought with us new optimism.
We had a passage of 1 day to Siracusa to get a Covid test and “stamp out” of Italy. Being there also involved more than 1 trip to our favorite panini shop, Borderi. We had our carpet cleaned which after the illness of 2 cats, was necessary. And we said so long to our agents and friends from Luise Yachting. Then we had another few days while waiting for the right weather for the 2+ day passage here and we were off!
Thankfully, feeling the gentle roll of the Mediterranean Sea beneath our keel and gazing into the inky blackness of the water under a moonlit night brought me back out of my melancholy and restored me to my normal optimistic equilibrium. In fact, as I sit here in Montenegro looking around at sites that are totally unfamiliar -open restaurants with nary a mask in site, I feel positively giddy with excitement and anticipation with the café’s undiscovered and the ancient buildings, and cobbled stoned streets, here for over 500 years, awaiting our sandals.
A word about the Covid vaccines here so that there is no misunderstanding, – we would gladly get one and will do so the moment we are able. We support the use of masks to contain the spread and we believe the science, not the stories. But I can’t deny that being free to eat out and seeing people enjoying socializing has done more for my mental health than I realized I needed. Walking around outside socially distant without a mask on has been positively liberating. And we have just learned that with a winter berthing contract (which we will be signing on Monday) we can become temporary residents and allowed to get the vaccine. This is hugely great news as we thought we would have to wait until we returned to the states in October.
We are docked in the very up-scale yachting capital of Montenegro, Tivat, also known as Porto Montenegro. A large, 450 slip marina project begun in 2006, the large development has evolved into a several buildings long residential and commercial community, complete with Cartier and Rolex shops as well as spas, restaurants, and boutique shops. There are numerous restaurants, bars and café’s and a grocery store planned to open by the time we return this winter. All of this in the glorious Bay of Kotor, also known as “Boka Bay”, itself under the protection of UNESCO. This marina is truly a “full service marina” offering concierge services as well as agents to help with clearing customs formalities, ordering flowers, making reservations or helping with whatever you could dream up. We are very much looking forward to our winter here.
A short drive from here is the charming medieval town of Kotor. Another UNESCO spot due to the 16th and 17th century Venetian fortifications. Kotor was on the endangered list after the earthquake of 1979. Completely restored by UNESCO and removed from the endangered list in 2003, the old town and the beautiful Venetian fortifications have been fully restored to their original splendor.
Covid continues to offer mixed blessings since Kotor is typically overrun with tourists pouring from cruise ships. Ranked 3rd in the med in terms of cruise ship visits, behind Venice and Dubrovnik according to BalkinSite.com, we were only 3 of about a dozen people in the entire old town area. When we were talking to a local woman about the cruise ships, she admonished that we should run, not walk to Dubrovnik now, before cruise ships return. What a gift to see the beautiful city in all its glory sans the smells of pizza and fried food which should be so foreign in this town.
The weather this week has been forecast for rain nearly every day so we are delaying the tours for next week. On the list are Budva, Perast, Our Lady of the Rocks (there are 2 islands which have churches on them – we plan to visit 1.) And most importantly, we want to launch the dingy and do some sightseeing by water. Still a bit chilly here with sweaters and jeans worn all day, it isn’t time for swimming yet. Mostly this week we have all felt like we are on a true vacation. Our first week off from school (and teaching for us), we have been relaxing, reading, eating out and I have been to the spa twice. All except Alec that is…
When we left Sicily, we could see that the discharge water for the wing engine was looking a bit anemic. As the temperature was good, we decided to press on to Montenegro and take a closer look here. Upon arriving and finding huge crosswinds for docking, the wing engine was pressed into service as it supplies the hydraulic power for the bow and stern thrusters. Fortunately, the wing engine did its job well enough for us to get into our slip but it did begin to overheat. Alec has been taking apart the system bit by bit trying to find the culprit. Finally, he found it and the pictures are below.
We plan to be in Montenegro 1 more week, then a short cruise to Dubrovnik. Unfortunately that will necessitate another full round of PCR tests but such is life in these Covid times.