Perast, Montenegro

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View of the two small islands off of Perast

With some hours to spare before our motor coach to Dubrovnik, we took the opportunity to visit beautiful Perast which lies just a short distance north from Kotor. We’d driven past the town on our way to the Ostrog Monastery, admiring the lovely old town and the two achingly picturesque little islands just off shore. One island hosts a monastery which is closed to the public, but the church on the other island is open to visitors.

With directions from Maryjana, we caught the local bus just across the road from the modern Kamelia Shopping Centre, a mere block from our apartment. The bus ride is ridiculously cheap, about €1pp and takes only 30 minutes or so. We were let off near the spot where you can hire boats to take you out to the islands. Our boat ride cost about €5 apiece. We sailed around the islands and then were dropped off at the church island for 30 minutes. The boat continued to shuttle back and forth and we could have ridden back later, but we had plenty of time.

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The little church is a gem and the story behind it fascinating. The entire island is man-made and generations in the making. Legend has it that two brothers found a perfectly-preserved portrait of the Madonna floating in that spot and were told to build a church there. They shared the word with their fellow villagers and from then on, fishermen went out, dropping rocks until the island was formed. The miraculous painting hangs in the church today along with a collection of silver offerings to the Virgin. A docent told us about the church and then, for a small fee, we explored the collection of seafaring paintings and artifacts in a museum upstairs.

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Church ceiling with silver offerings running along the lower edge
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Museum above the church

Upon returning to shore, our boatman told us that we’d just missed the bus, which runs every half hour. He said we had time for a quick lunch and recommended a waterside Italian restaurant a short walk away called the Palace Jelena “caffe and pizzeria.” He also assured us that the bus would stop anywhere nearby if we just held out an arm.

We enjoyed delicious pizza, pasta and cold beer within eyesight of the boat and the spot where we’d been dropped off by the bus. We explained our time constraints to the waiter and food was on the table in no time. With the road just beside us, I figured we couldn’t miss the bus, but still couldn’t help worrying just a bit since we had to catch the motor coach to Dubrovnik. Oh well, worst case surely we could hail a taxi or…something.

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We had to walk past the boatman who’d instructed us on the hold-your-arm-out bit and got reassurance that the system would work and a promise that they’d keep an eye on us. Sure enough, the bus came along in a matter of minutes, we held our arms out, and were on our way back to Kotor. Clockwork!

April 12, 2016

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