"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Kotor Fortress, Monte Negro, December 2017

Our day trip to Kotor Bay was supposed to start with a boat trip, then 2 hours to hike up and around the imposing fortress ruins on the mountainside overlooking the town before we headed into the heart of the old town for a concert by Oneness Dream one of the old Orthodox churches. The perfect day!

Of course, things don't always go to plan and after the fabulous boat ride around the sunlit Bay of Kotor, with stops at old villages and island churches, we wound up back at the quay just as the concert was due to start. Hasty rearrangements for a 5pm concert left us with half an hour - almost exactly - to climb up above the town and catch the vistas over the sea before night fell.

Daulot and I darted straight through the ancient gateway from the quay with a vague paper map that showed the concert venue and the key parts of the old town including the two back gates to the fortress which lies on the slopes directly above the maze of alleys and cobbled streets. After one or two wrong turns we were up there on the stone steps and giving it our best shot to gain some height quickly at walk/run pace. There was hardly anyone else around, though in the summer I'm sure these walkways and steps are crowded with sightseers.

Giving it long strides despite my stiff legs from the 4-mile race that morning, we clocked in at the Church of Our Lady of Health in 18 minutes. This is one of the key landmarks you see as you approach the town - it's picturesque tower perched about a third of the way up the old path to the fort.

After a brief exploration Daulot decided to keep on climbing while I opted to sprint back down and try and get in to the concert - I didn't want to miss it and I didn't want to walk in after it had begun, risking breaking the atmosphere.

Leaping like a gazelle from stone to stone (in my mind's eye at least - probably lurching down the steps to any onlookers) I was soon back into the magical old town and weaving through the alleys until I saw a knot of fellow disciples gathered outside the church. I was one of the first inside and even bagged one of the few seats (it was mostly standing) before the singing began. It was well worth the dash - it was only a short concert but the guys sang brilliantly and we all had a great meditation as the mantric songs echoed in the dome of the church. The silence between each song seemed powerful, amplified. Not to be forgotten.

No idea how far Daulot got, but he made it back to the bus OK!


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