"PROMISE ME YOU WILL DO THIS!" my dear and always-right friend Megan said about Kotor in her email of Croatia recommendations. During my trip last fall, I'd flown into Dubrovnik and was planning to make my way up the coast but took Megan's advice and made a detour down to Montenegro. It was my first time renting a car alone abroad and I was already anxious about not trying to die (it was totally fine).
Instead of just taking a day trip to Montenegro, I decided to stay for a night. I had grand plans to leave Dubrovnik early and arrive in Montenegro with most of the day ahead of me. Then I went to pick up my rental car only to find that there were "no more GPSes left" for me. As I mentioned before, I was already having extreme anxiety of this whole rental car thing so when the charming yet indifferent guy gave me the news, I busted out my "oh helllllll no" speech only to find that.. nope, there still weren't any GPSes left and they couldn't do anything for me.
I went back to my listing, cried, called Avis, cried more, then reminded myself that civilization has survived without GPSes for the better part of its existence. I could do this. I borrowed a map from my host (thanks Niko!), copied directions from Google, and was on my way.
I got to Kotor early in the afternoon. The two-lane "highway" narrowed into a single road that twisted and turned until I looked over and saw a massive, glowing lake that was as smooth as glass. As I continued around the perimeter of the lake, I drove through teeny tiny towns, saw older folks play like kids in the water, and tried to keep my eyes on the road. I eventually found myself in the heart of the mostly empty but still adorable historic center and found out that "climbing up to San Giovanni" was the thing to do. 1350 stairs and an inhumane incline later, I was on top of a mountain, looking down on the bay as the sky began to turn gold.
There will always be fears and hiccups but the world is too big and wonderful to let them stop us. Kotor felt like a victory-- navigating an unknown land, climbing a mountain, soaking in the view, and eating an entire anchovy pizza later to celebrate.