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Saturday, October 1, 2016

9/24: Enchanted and Charmed by Ohrid, Macedonia

We got a morning bus from Skopje for the three hour journey to Ohrid, one of Macedonia’s most scenic destinations on a lake of the same name. The Villa Rustica’s owner kindly picked us up at the bus station in town which was a godsend as the villa was located in the Old Town, a good 15 minute ride from the center.

Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, it has the oldest Slav monastery and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century. After those of the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, Ohrid is considered to have the most important collection of icons in the world. 

If that weren't enough, Ohrid was declared to be an UNESCO World Heritage property for its natural values in 1979 and for its cultural values a year later. Now you can perhaps understand why we chose to come to Ohrid for a few days!

We could hardly believe our luck when we saw the view from our balcony of Lake Ohrid. It was a to die for view, no doubt about it. 
There were even kiwis growing on the tree on our balcony that we could have picked if we wanted. Not sure if they were ripe for the picking but they sure added to the lovely ambience.

Our room was about half the size of the one in Skopje and more than a little on the skuzzy side but it did have a private bathroom and a huge kitchen right across the hallway that no one else would be using so that was the ‘glass half full’ look at things!

As we walked down into town, all we could think of we sure hoped we wouldn’t need to lug anything big and heavy back up the hill as that would be a hard slog!
The rather steep descent to the harbor!

On the waterfront: Doesn't that sound like a novel someone wrote?!
We were so relieved that we were here in late September as hordes of tourists descend on Ohrid in the summer months. Slavic migrations created the name Ohrid  from 'vo rid' which means 'city on the hill.' Bulgarian Slavs arrived in 867 and the Ohrid literary school, the first Slavic university, was established by 9th century Saints Kliment and Naum.

There were a myriad of fishing trawlers and tour boats in the harbor. We checked out the latter ones as we were interested in taking a cruise on the lake, two days hence on Monday, when most of Ohrid’s attractions would be closed.

How beautiful seeing the swans and seagulls as we walked along the promenade. After being in Skopje, the Vegas of Europe for a few days, Ohrid was so picture perfect in an absolutely different way.

Al: I imagine you and your cronies would have fun casting your fishing lines here!
Wonder what these trees were. Pat: Any ideas from these photos?

There were some massive statues in the small park we had just walked by. After all, what town in Macedonia would be complete without its complement of statues, huh?!
What fun walking for a while next up the town's pedestrian street, Sveti Kliment Ohridiski aka St. Clement of Ohrid, gazing into the shops, cafes and watching the world go by.
The town was obviously famous for its Ohrid pearls because we saw a number of jewelry stores all advertising them on the mall. Ohrid pearls don’t come from oysters, but rather from the scales of the plasica fish in Lake Ohrid. The recipe for the pearls came from a Russian soldier staying in Ohrid in the 1920s who passed it down to just one family here.

Almost at the end of the mall was the Ali Pasha Mosque. We had learned from Saso, the tour guide in Skopje that 'Pasha' meant 'general' by the way.

When entering a mosque, there is always tile or stone before the carpet. It is Muslim custom, i.e. mandatory, that everyone must take off one shoe on the tile and immediately put the bare foot on the carpet and then repeat the process with the second foot. At no point should shoes be put on the carpet or bare feet on the tile or stone entry. Shoes are then put in cubbies provided in every mosque. There are often shoehorns provided in mosques but we have never ever seen shoehorns this gargantuan before!
Speaking of shoes, shoe shiners on the city streets have been a common sight in the Balkans.
Homeward bound:
As we went to bed that night, we were looking forward to discovering the next day why Ohrid was also called ‘The Jerusalem of Europe.’

Posted from Berat, Albania on October 1st, 2016.


  1. Soooo jealous of the view of the lake in the top with you in the foreground Mum. Miss you lots and love you more

  2. Hon,

    I always think of you when I take shots like that one. Miss you more!


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