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  • Writer's pictureТимофей Милорадович

Herceg Novi, steps

Serbian photographer's story

It is unlikely that anyone is excited by climbing stairs, walls and fortresses, in the unbearable summer heat, while the midday sun “beats” a freshly shaved head, and sweat from the forehead pours into the eyes and irritates ill-placed contact lenses in them. Despite the fact thatI forgot to take a cap and a bottle of water with me, the excitement of the thought that soon I will conquer the two "tops" of Herceg Novi: Forte Mare and Kanli Kula, and maybe even some smaller fortifications does not leave me.


While I'm still sitting on the sand of one of the beaches along the Pet Danica promenade and while the foamy sea waves hit my legs and wait for the younger part of my "team" to settle down on the beach so that I can run up the stairs, I remember bad luck and disappointment,when at the end of February I flew here from Belgrade for the same purpose, and then collided with the modern gates of both these fortresses.They are only open to the public during the season.On top of that, heavy clouds hung over Herceg Novi in those days and it rained almost incessantly, which is completely contrary to the reports of meteorologists.


Just imagine a photographer in despair (it's just the first time in my life that I called myself that), who came here to photograph the sunniest city on the Adriatic. Many logical minds will now ask themselves: "So where did you look for the sun in February!?!" True, but this does not apply to Herceg Novi! This city has over 200 sunny days a year. So the chances of "catching" the sun here are very high even in February, when this city is usually "bathed" in the yellow color of the sun and blooming mimosas. Then something like a combination of a festival and a carnival called the Mimosa Festival takes place here, which, in addition to the sun and flowers, is also decorated with the famous Herzegovina majorettes, urban music brass bands, trombonists, masquerades and other attractions.

Just when all the "events" were supposed to be there, in front of my lens, little happened. The rain “dispersed” both the people and the sun, and I, desperate and wet, stood on the steps, waiting for at least something interesting to fly into my frame. Well, in some places the sun still had time to break through the clouds for a few minutes, and I was always ready to “click” and take a relatively good photo, which I then retouched so that few would suspect that I had such bad working conditions.


Now, looking at the sky, I am afraid that the sun is not too strong and too harsh. When someone already has two bad experiences in the same environment, they also fear the "third evil" that always happens to superstitious people.

And the first "failure" with photographing Herceg Novi happened ten years ago, when I last (not counting the February experience) was in this city. Like now, I was too proud of my (then) new camera, with which I had not yet been on "you" (and now I am in the same situation, and I am haunted by the same fear), so I set the option "S" in the settings -superfine, actually "S" meant small.

Since the time for laptops came later, when I got home, I had something to look at: thumbnails instead of high-resolution pictures. Well, I understand that the conditions for adventure are created for me. The excitement intensifies, and my adrenaline jumps to a critical high. I think to myself THE THIRD HAPPINESS IS THE BIGGEST ...

I run to Skver, from where I start my photo tour of Herceg Novi. I am already at the end of the Mula (breakwater), which offers a fantastic view of the city with its "crown and peak" - the fortress of Spagnola - the only one that I managed to "conquer" this winter. Finally, there is a clear blue sky above it, and I do not have to "cut out" the gray clouds and paste in some "other" sky taken somewhere else. Photomontage is my passion, but not in such cases.


Now, having captured all these masts and picturesque landscapes of the city harbor, I rush up the fortress of Forte Mare to capture the harbor and the square "from above". I missed these shots so much this winter. I remember how, in desperation, while it was raining outside, I sat in the apartment and rummaged through stock portals - looking for where to buy such photos, fearing that the employer would be dissatisfied. Luckily, I "compensated" Forte Mare with a lookout near the City Tavern, and Kanli Kula with a lookout from the parking lot of some seedy restaurant on the highway.


And so, all in awe, I meet a girl who collects entrance fees to the fortress. It is not entirely clear to her why I am in such a hurry, leaving her two euros for the the ticket, I "run away." When I finally got to the top of the fortress, I felt that I could take off from there (only if I had a big kite or paraglider). This feeling of victory is hard to describe. For a moment, I forget all those lenses and think about how (other than selfies) I can immortalize this moment. This is the need of a dog that has to record angles in order to "rule" the territory. Now... I understand... enough has already been written about this fortress (unfortunately, but it seems so), and my task is to present it in all its glory, how it shines...


I now remember the moment when a few years ago I "conquered" the famous White Tower in Thessaloniki and stretched my flag, i.e. ViaBalkans flag instead of the Greek flag that is usually flown there. It's not that I was destroying Greek sovereignty (by taking the Greek flag off the flagpole), but I was "grabbing" the angle from which my flag dominates.

But now I'm shooting not for, but for the future hotel in Herceg Novi: "JB Apart & Lounge" and I don't have a flag, neither me nor them. I will not describe further that "wonderful feeling" that overcomes a person when he climbs Forte Mare - on purpose, "in spite" of those who do not give these two euros, thinking that "this grape is still sour", i.e..that there is probably nothing outstanding. Honestly, there is nothing that you haven’t seen somewhere already (a movie screen and hundreds of turquoise chairs), but it’s still great to sit alone in such a cinema under a clear sky and look at this empty screen (and behind it), zoom in, focus, change lenses, calm a hand shaking with excitement (as if the hand is not stable, then the photo is not good) ...


I realized that this was enough, I outlined a new direction - Kanli Kulu. I run out of the fortress as if I had stolen something from there (for example, a stone from the Acropolis) with the same amazed look of a girl collecting tickets. Along the way, in a half-race, I shoot several interesting scenes and repeat the shots taken in winter (which is good when you already know in advance where it is better to shoot, what and with which lens), and at some point, again, out of breath, I pass through the gates of Kanli Kula -the very ones that I kicked furiously in winter, because they were locked. And there I pay the same two euros to a guy who wants to be nice and tell me something about the fortress in return for the entrance fee, but I, thinking that I know more and better about Kanli Kul than he does, leave and that's it. I heard "be careful when you go up the stairs"... Yes, I thought that was what you say to everyone, I heard "Be careful" you said to those in front of me...


I later regretted ignoring this helpful guy from the start. I regret that I didn't ask his name to mention him here now and that I didn't have more time to share knowledge about Kanli Kul. The power of first impressions is that people often don't get a second chance. So ten years ago, when pure curiosity first led me to Kanli Tower, a guy suddenly jumped out in front of me and shouted “WHERE!”- "Two euros!". All confused, I wanted to drive him away at three sweethearts, but somehow I didn’t ...


It was one "early" morning when I slipped out of the apartment on Belavista (the area under the fortress) with a camera in my hands, while my dear was still sleeping ... I did not have these two euros, and I did not know that the entrance was paid. I did not even know that there was a fortress there, but just wandered through the fabulous and picturesque streets of Belavista in search of inspiration for photography. I told him that I didn't have two euros, but okay, I'll leave. I went and Dripak told me that I committed a violation, that he saw me taking pictures, and that only those who pay are allowed to take pictures (the rusty gates of the fortress)! And now, remembering that unpleasant experience, for some reason I expected that the same Dripak would take these two euros from me anywhere ...

Therefore, I ignored this really cool guy, who is certainly not the same as the one who was ten years ago. Perhaps the most beautiful panoramas of Herceg Novi I took on Kanli-Kula. These are the same compositions that can be seen on postcards and on the covers of tour operators' brochures when they describe Herceg Novi. This is always either a view of the old city from the Kanli tower, or the famous Sahat Kula (the symbol of Herceg Novi), a view from the main city square.


Long before the trip to Herceg Novi, I was thinking about where I could take a picture of the Clock Tower without being another one of several thousand postcards and photos on Google that all look like an egg. I realized by looking at the map that the view of the Clock Tower is by far the most powerful and impressive from the top of the Western Tower - a tower that is somehow across the road, i.e. diagonally from the Torah (which is why it is also called the Clock Tower).

To be honest, I didn't understand how no one had come up with such a brilliant idea before. I decided - I'll be the first! Now you understand my excitement and joy as I roam the Kanli Tower in search of a passage to the West Tower. It is nowhere! There is no other way, I need to find this guy and ask him. He showed me where the passage of this rampart leading to the West Tower, but said that it was locked and impassable.

You see, he is also to blame for this. He began a story about how he tried, but unsuccessfully, to break through to the West Tower himself, cutting the thorns in front of him, because, according to him, he loves fortresses (how terrible it is when a person does what he loves). To be honest, I am afraid of thorns, and I would not be so afraid of lizards, snakes and other crawling reptiles, for which the stone has become a weedy ideal habitat.

Be that as it may, the horror is that in the middle of civilization and such a tourist center as Herceg Novi, there is something so neglected! Dubrovnik would have sorted everything out and would have charged me two more euros to enter another fortress. “Who knows, gets two,” the Wolf said sweetly!

For a moment, I felt like that brave prince whose mission is to make his way through the thorny bushes to the castle, where he will kiss the Sleeping Beauty ... Oh yes, I started, this is the West Herzegnovskaya Tower, not Ruzica, my dear (the same one that that morning ten years ago "slept" on Belavista until I woke her up with a kiss, after I "fighted" with Dripak on Kanli-Kuli), now she is waiting for me on the embankment ... I definitely give up my intention to shoot the Clock Tower from the West Tower. I thank the helpful curator and leave. Running, of course!


I run down the stairs through Belavista and through the Clock Tower to the square to get at least that "stereotypical" photo when I can't do, as I imagined, from the West Tower. And at that moment, running down the steps to the foot of the Clock Tower, I remembered and asked: And this tower!? Since it is a symbol of the city, the clock tower has been restored and "polished". It is definitely well looked after (unlike all other fortifications in Herceg Novi).

It was a sharp stop on the spot (good thing the momentum didn't throw me off the stairs) and a turn back through the city (cool) gates. Looking where to climb to the entrance, I ran when - empty again! The castle is locked again! (Oh, stupid Herzegovinians!). Out of anger, frustration, and desperation, I ran my hand over my forehead, as if wiping sweat, and touched the sunglasses I forgot about (in my hair, if any). They flew under the tower, onto the steps in front of the city gates, and shattered into pieces (or so I thought).

I quickly calculated the damage from breaking new glasses - first nominal, then real, given that they are my favorite, that they are a perfect "fit", and that they are really "fast", that they are the only reason I put these boring lenses on my pupils, which bubble, burn and disturb even more ... It's just called "heartache"!


I went downstairs to collect the remains, when I saw that they were intact and that everything was in order with them - nothing at all! Even scratches! Whether it's luck or quality (remember the Jaguar), I still wear my favorite glasses, not in front of my eyes, but on my head. They are, like, quite fancy and look great on bald guys, and again, not everything can stand on a smooth (bald) head without falling ... It suits me, I thought decisively, enough with Herceg Novi and taking the picture! (this time).


No more boring lenses! With dirty hands I take out the lenses and throw them in the same place in front of the Clock Tower where I recently dropped my glasses.(P.S. The damage from throwing away the lenses is symbolic, as they are disposable. Also, the lenses are small and almost invisible, so even those who would object to me throwing garbage can't see it...). While putting on glasses (by prescription) I saw and heard the sound of four "sailors" who were walking along the square and singing some kind of escalinade! WHAT! I exclaimed! I'm looking for it all the time!

This is the very moment when the majorettes suddenly and unexpectedly march in the frame. BINGO! I ran towards them and away from them... They stood in a circle as if they were singing something (probably part of the script - but it could not be from me), I slipped in (into the circle) like some annoying buzzard fly. Wherever they move, I followed them: click, click, click ... I expected that the biggest of them would swing his fist at me, and I would fall "like a fly", but, fortunately, he resisted.

That's all! I realize that I just wrote the first such article in my life. The text that follows the stream of disparate thoughts of a photo traveller. Some readers might not like it very much, but if you've gotten this far and haven't stopped reading, then you're definitely persistent.

Thank you for your patience!


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