The wind rustling through the trees. A creepy old building. Hordes of bats. Sounds like the perfect start for a horror movie, but in fact it was the start of a little trip into the Vrmac Fort on the mountainside by Kotor, where we are staying.
After taking the road up to Troica, we took a right up the mountain that separates Kotor from Tivat. Immediately it was clear that the road wasn’t exactly a regularly used one, with pot holes large enough to swallow a small child and the occasional fallen boulder. We were expecting a small road, not a rally stage but because we are hardy explorers on the frontiers of the known world, we soldiered on in our Fiat Panda. Eventually we reached Fort Vrmac which is an imposing stone and concrete structure finished at the end of the 19th century. I could hear Zak Bagan’s voice in my head spouting nonsense about the things we might find in a fort that was used in many conflicts, including the First World War. Ignoring Zak’s talk of ghost soldiers and such, we parked the Panda and found our entrance to the building through the only window that wasn’t barred.
Through the window and into the fort it was immediately clear this was a good plan. Maybe not in terms of safety, due to some fire damage and scary square pits in the floors probably leading to pitch-black chasms of suffering and subsequently, death. However, with a torch and some common sense, it was a great place to explore. The dark corridors were uncannily familiar and although no ghosts were seen and no murderous characters emerged from the darkness, a bat that I could easily see carrying off one of those fluffy handbag dogs did fly over my head. Now if these bats could carry off every pug in the world I would not complain but their incessant squeaking in the darkness wasn’t appreciated in the slightest.
We wandered around some more finding gun positions upstairs and other defensive structures around the place. I was often preoccupied trying to get a good photo and would look around to see my so-called friends walking off with the torch and leaving me to fend for myself. After exploring most of the fort and dodging the obstacles I felt like I could do the impossible. I felt I could complete way of the warrior on Raven. Not even Navar could stop me.
For those who haven’t watched Raven, it’s a children’s obstacle course style TV show where the villain was Nevar (Raven backwards) and the host was a Scottish man dressed as a raven. It might not sound enthralling but the reality is, many children were claimed by Nevar and only the strongest of body and mind made it through the way of the warrior (the final challenge). Did I mention a Scottish man dressed as a raven? If these things don’t tick your boxes I’m not sure what will.
We left the fort the way we had come in, glad to see the light of day. We wandered around in the surrounding woodland and saw lots of other abandoned buildings which were also interesting but not quite as impressive as the fort. On the way back to Troica, we saw Barry the Tortoise. The little guy had a reckless disregard for the rules of the road and was almost run over by the Panda. He didn’t take very well to the name Barry and ran with surprising speed into the undergrowth never to be seen again.
Now after nearly 21 years on this Earth I finally have something to say about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they could build a fairly sturdy fort. Shame their empire ended 100 years ago otherwise I’d be inclined to let them know.