We drove from Dubrovnik to Kotor alongside the sea the entire route. It was magnificent. The great Master painted the scene around each curve with breathtaking perfection. I was exhausted, but could not sleep. We were driving slow, but still too fast to take it all in. Every part of me was completely saturated from the overwhelming beauty of the landscape. Indescribable. Why have I not heard of this area before? Perast is enroute to Kotor and we had to come back. The charming ancient town beckoned. The two islands demanded exploration and the clusters of mussel nets passing by left the desire for their freshness on my tongue.
I was so excited when this was placed before me, but first: Our Lady of the Rock. A manmade island built by sinking hundreds of ships in honour of the Virgin Mary for saving the life of a sailor who found a painting of her on this rock. He dedicated his life to honouring her and building a chapel on the rock he found her painting on for saving his life. Soon, all sailors joined in, and gifts from sailors are brought to this chapel from all over the world as offerings in thanks for her protection at sea. The story is enchanting, the tour guide was unforgettable, and the little chapel is every-square-inch a work of art. A highlight of our trip, for sure.
The other island, on the left, was purchased privately, and is no longer available to tourists. This little trip across the sea cost a whole 3 Euro per person and we were on a private little boat within minutes from parking our car. Pure Heaven.
There is Our Lady on the alter in the frame. Behind the alter piece is a small hole that you can place your hand it an make a wish upon. It is the original rock that this painting was found on, and has been known to protect sailors and make wishes come true. It was really special to place my hand on this ancient place and make my wish”¦which, of course will come true!
Yes, the glass is from the Venetians. I would recognize in anywhere. I remember peering through it at the Doge’s Palace in Venice and wanting to buy a panel for our home. It is so simple, yet so exquisite. Too high up to touch, but I do know that the little points on one side of the clear rounds are very sharp to the touch!
After being intellectually and artistically edified, where to eat? Our boat driver pointed out the white canopies on the shore line. See them? I would like to find him again, to thank him. It could have been a magazine shoot, our lunch was so picture perfect. They just set up for the formal hour with the white linens and napkins that I wanted to buy as they actually covered one’s entire lap. Alas, of course they were made by hand. The bread and butter were served right after the drinks, as always.
How to start a meal in the Balkans? Soup. Soup. Soup. Soup. Soup. Or, corba! This is veal corba (a thicker soup, though still thin by Canadian standards) that everyone ordered and it was lovely and delicate with the unexpected scent of nutmeg. Yum!
What to order? What else? Do you have mussels? Do we have mussels? But, of course! They were bathed in a garlicky white wine broth that was deadly when the bread was dipped into it. So deadly, I am sure I could have been light headed, should I have eaten much of it. I have never tasted such a fresh mussel. Actually, I have not eaten them for years after finding out how rich they are. However, this trip, there were big buckets of them served with bread all over the coast, and I could no longer fight the craving. I caved in an indulged completely without guilt. They were undoubtedly the best mussels I have every eaten. I thought I could be fresh mussels at home. No. It reminds me of my first fresh mushroom buying experience in this part of the world. at a local Belgrade market. The ones we get in Edmonton at the grocery store have to already be weeks old as those bought at the market were so fresh that I am sure they would have easily lasted three months in the fridge. I felt so deprived not having access to that quality of produce.
Can you taste them? I tried to capture the crystal blue freshness of the sea with the wine, herbs, garlic and the richly textured mussel. Lip-smacking YUMMERS!
Who would order veal by the sea? Petar. Honestly. And the portion? More than generous. Gigantic and luscious and tender and even though it was completely out of place by the sea, according to Petar, it was perfect. I am not sure what got into Vanja and his mother. They both ordered spaghetti. I do believe it did have clams in it, though. That redeemed them.
This was an unforgettable afternoon by the sea. Unforgettable. It is deeply impressed in my mind as if the dazzling reflection from the sun on the water that day etched it there forever.
Hmmmm”¦.. sea breezy”¦ soft and easy”¦
All senses content.