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  • Writer's pictureJames

Slatki život (The Sweet Life) in Montenegro

Updated: May 22, 2022

We rented a small apartment on the bottom floor of a three story stone house that had been built by Venetians in the 1600s. It sat across the street from the Bay of Kotor's sapphire waters in Muo, opposite the Old Town of Kotor. We had a small terrace with a table and a few chairs shaded by a young tree. Early each morning Samantha would climb one of the cliffs, play with goats and make friends with cats. Breakfast would consist of fresh pastries from a nearby bakery, and a small grey and white cat named Lana would join us, stealing what seemed her body weight in burek (balkan cheese pastry) from my hands each day to the point we began to buy her one of her own. She became the self-invited guest of honor during our morning meal.

The brown door and shutters were our home

We reveled in the warm sun and cool breeze tickling our skin as the final days of summer quickly disappeared. Late September still held days warm enough to jump in the deep blue waters of Europe's southernmost fijord.

During the afternoon, we would walk around the bay to Old Town, pass the sea gate and head to the north side and the arched stone bridge that lead to the river gate. Here we would play with kittens in what we lovingly reffered to as "the garden of cats". A bit of history might better explain this. Kotor is a costal trading town surrounded by mountains, as such it has been plagued with rats, snakes and other pests. The cats are seen as protectors of the city and are well cared for by the locals. If you are interested in learning more or helping support this cat sancuary, please visit Kotor Kitties.

Sam Cat and a Smol Friend

The Garden of Cats

Big smiles after lots of pets

The streets of Kotor wound about in a maze of winding avenues built of polished Venetian stone. Tiny alleyways opened up to squares filled with cafes and churches with bells that rang out every hour in a symphony of clanging. Everywhere there were cats, some were quite rotund, roaming about the various cafes asking for snacks from anyone that could be bothered to listen. They would laze wherever they saw fit, including the middle of highly trafficed pedestrian areas, safe in the knolwledge that no human would dare step on them. Truly, this is a feline kingdom.

As the sun set, we would wander toward the main square and listen to the street performers busking. Our favorite was Steve Lin, who each afternoon could be seen walking down the street carrying his equipment. On the way home we would stop at the little market and buy a few things for dinner and a bottle of Montenegrin wine for a few Euros. We would cook dinner of fresh vegtables and watch Peaky Blinders, then head back to the terrace to finish our wine. The stars would shine and the tungsten lights of Kotor's St. John fortifications rippled accross the water.

Surrounded by quiet beauty on all sides, life moved slowly in the waning days of summer and early fall. Our steps were somehow lighter as we tread the short walk to our apartment, a good nights rest, and everything to do all over again. Grateful to wake up to this dream world filled with light that casts brilliant colorful hues across the back of our minds, only to be reminded of youth when our eyes could see more color, and many, many cats.

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