Saturday, 8 August 2015

MACEDONIA. Ohrid and Lake Ohrid.

Lake Ohrid
Ohrid and lake Ohrid
Going to Macedonia was never on my plan. Been there before (only to Skopje though) and thought I wouldn’t have time on this trip to do it (only 3 months around the Balkans). But….I was just on the other side of lake Ohrid in Pogradec in Albania and thought I can’t just not go to Macedonia as literally you cross the border walking. Well, I did it on a bike.
I took a bike from the hostel where I was staying at in Pogradec and cycled to St Naum monastery in Macedonia (only 1km from the Albanian border).
First time crossing the border on a bike
Set in the 9th century on the south-easter shore of Lake Ohrid the monastery, St. Naum was chosen primarily for its location – on a high, rocky outcropping over the lake, above deep forests and life-giving springs of the river Crn Drim. It was full of people, both local and foreign, but overall I did like it. The ride back to Albania was a bit steep but not too bad. There was a shortcut through the military zone and the soldiers were nice to open the door for me so that saved me a few km uphill on the bike (luckily we speak the same language).

You can also go on a little row boat ride at the natural springs just there
I enjoyed this church much more than the monastery, so beautiful and less crowded
After coming back to Albania, I realised that I can’t just go south without going to Ohrid, now that I was on the other side of the lake. And the next day I said goodbye to the lovely family running the hostel in Pogradec and headed the same way to Ohrid, this time hitch hiking. Got a quick ride to the border and there another car of some Albanian and Macedonians took me all the way to Ohrid. They were my age and it was sharing some inside tips about Macedonian language (it’s almost the same but some words have different meaning like the word “svirka” which means “live music” in Macedonian but “blowjob” in Bulgarian so you need to be careful what you say! 

I was recommended Sunny Lake Hostel in Ohid and it was such a great choice. Met so many cool people there that I am still in touch with. And I ended up staying not one night as planned of course. As always actually. 
The beaches are not bad either and if you go a bit further to the right, past all the restaurants , you can find some quite isolated and not crowded spots to enjoy the lake. Water was so clear and kind of cold (in July) but that was actually very refreshing as temperatures were hitting 40 degrees Celsius. 
Lake Ohrid

I think only Bulgarians could understand why I find this sign funny
Lake Ohrid. The beach far away from the crowds
This little guy was crawling in the grass together with another one, quite close to the centre
National workshop for handmade paper - it's not among the first couple of things to do in Ohrid but most definitely this workshop is worth a visit. The cigarettes pack has nothing to do wit it, just find it interesting :)
The main street
Pearls from the lake are very popular here
Sunny Lake Hostel. BBQ on the go

I did like a lot the vibe at the hostel, the owners and the people I met but it was time to go. Just by chance 4 Slovenian guys and 1 Kiwi were heading to Berat, Albania as well. So we left together (kind of)...they took the early bus and I left 3 hours later hitchhiking. And there was a bet of course, who would make it there first....No need to mention who won :)

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