Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro feels and looks much like it did in medieval times, or at least it's fun to imagine it that way. I stayed there for a few nights, in Old Town Hostel, which was tucked into a confusing cluster of narrow, cobble-stone streets inside the ancient walled city, the enclosing walls so high in all directions, you can't really see where you're going.. The inside of that hostel was a skeleton of stone arches and alcoves. The first few times I left the hostel, it took me a long time to find my way back. I eventually figured out that I was north and east of the bakery that sold the little cylindrical pastries made of ground meat and flaky dough. That bakery sold a hundred other creations, but I never made it past those meat pastries. I visited that shop every time I left or returned to my hostel. By the end of the first day, the man at the counter knew my order, two meat pastries, each about the size of a fat finger. The total price for that order was less than one Euro. The night's stay in the hostel cost five. 


The Bay of Kotor extends far inland, making it more like a fjord than a bay. I climbed high on the castle walls -- not to the top, but still far above the city. The stairs are steep marble worn slippery. The rock work is precise and beautiful. As a stonemason, I can always appreciate ruins for their most practical aspects. The people who built these walls died well over a thousand years ago, but their work still stands. I wonder if anything I've ever built will be around in a thousand years. My guess is that at least a few of my steps or walls will certainly stick around that long. They may even outlast humanity.