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Monday, October 3, 2016

9/26: A Day Cruise to St. Naum Monastery from Ohrid

Down by Ohrid's harbor was the statue of St. Clement whom we had heard so much about yesterday. The sign on it said, 'St. Clement: May your fame live on through Ohrid.'
We were at the harbor for the six hour cruise to and from St. Naum Monastery on the southern part of Lake Ohrid. It was one of the most popular day trips and a good deal at only ten euros apiece. Most of the churches are closed in Ohrid on Mondays so that was why we needed to see them yesterday.

We were looking forward to board the Christina Royale at 10.
Steven in front of a water taxi with Samoil Fortress high on the hill in the background.
Lovely views of the UNESCO town of Ohrid from the boat:
We hoped it wouldn’t be too windy at sea today as it was nippy up top!
The oft photographed St. Jovan at Kaneo Church:

The nearby Galicia National Park:
One of former Yugoslav President Tito’s villas below. We had also seen one when we were on our day trip to Lake Bled from Ljubljana in Slovenia several weeks ago. 
Some of the trees were just beginning to change colors. Seeing that made me realize how much I miss seeing the aspens changing their colors back home right now.
There was one resort after another along the lake for at least half of our 90 minute journey. (I just notice now how very crooked the photos are! I'll have to remember the next time we're on a boat to adjust the way I hold the camera so the photos aren't all lopsided like these!)
Didn't this look like a great water slide to play on, especially if, like us you were a few years younger?
Lake Ohrid has existed continuously for approximately two to three million years. Worldwide, there are only a few lakes with similarly remote origins with Lake Baikal in Siberia and Lake Tanganyika in Zambia being the most famous. Ohrid is one of Europe’s great biological reserves. Its waters contain over 200 species of plants and animals unique to the lake. 
The importance of the lake was further emphasized when it was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979 and when, in 2010, NASA decided to name one of Titan's lakes after Lake Ohrid. 
This was the only fishing boat we had seen so far. I wondered whether most fishermen had been out at dawn instead.
Lake Ohrid straddles the mountainous border between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania. The lake is about 18 miles long and around 945 feet deep.
All cuddled up in his warmest coat and blankets the boat had provided. Thank goodness they had them because there was a stiff breeze and little sun to keep us warm.

A former Byzantine fort and assorted huts. The boat stopped for several minutes here talking about this spot but we didn’t know why as all the commentary was in German because there was a large German-speaking tour group onboard. I asked one of the other passengers and she mentioned that each house was different and they were used for fishing and hunting.

I loved the rich reddish brown color of the cliffs here against the deep blue water. 
I notice these photos don't look as if I'd been hitting the sauce too much and couldn't hold the camera straight. Perhaps earlier, we had been going through a bumpy ride and that was why the photos were all crooked!

Each year, in the second half of July, the swimming elite throughout the world gathers in Ohrid and, starting from the Monastery at St. Naum, they swim along the lakeshore to the town harbor, approximately a 22 mile route. Since 1998, the Ohrid Swimming Marathon has entered in the World Swimming Club of the 12 worldwide marathons held under the patronage of the World Swimming Association. I had never heard of swimming marathons before this. I would be curious to know whether any of you have.

The water was such a gorgeous shade of green at this spot:

Approaching Sveti or St. Naum Monastery after about a 90 minute ride and 20 miles south of Ohrid, was an imposing sight. It was situated on a bluff just one mile from the Albanian border. Naum was a contemporary of St. Clement and their monastery was an educational center. 

I was snug as a bug in a rug and therefore didn't rush to get off the boat! Plus, we had three hours ashore and there wasn't that much too see.
A view of Albania behind me once we alighted from the boat. How incredibly lucky we were that the sun came out fully then as it looked like showers were far more probable earlier.

The walnut sculpture of St. Naum was made by hand in just 15 hours using only a chainsaw.
It was funny seeing the peacock sign again as we thought we had seen the last of them in Lokrum, near Dubrovnik in Croatia.
The painting over the gate to the monastery entrance:
Naum's Church of the Holy Archangels, built in 900, was destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century and reincarnated as the Church of Sveti Naum when it was rebuilt between the 16th and 17th centuries as a multidomed, Byzantine-style structure on the cliff. 

The entranceway:
The icons of St. Naum are some of the best religious painting achievements in the Balkans. They date from the first half of the 18th century. 

The lovely wood-carved iconostasis was made in 1711 by an unknown artisan.

Ancient frescoes behind the chairs:
Macedonians believe you can still hear the St. Naum's heartbeat by pressing an ear to his stone coffin inside the church.
Names of the Apostles:

I like to think I am not becoming jaded when it comes to seeing such lovely examples of icons and frescoes as there were at the Monastery of St. Naum. However, I found the church underwhelming especially as compared to the fabulous Sveti Bogordica Perivlepta we had seen yesterday morning in Ohrid. To me, that was on another level altogether.
Peacock feather but no other sign of peacocks so far - so sad!
The date to the right of the entrance gate:
Of course, a moment or two later, Steven said, ‘At the risk of saying anything, there’s a peacock.’ Guess he somehow thought I’d take lots of photos of it as I had the previous time we’d seen strutting peacocks this trip!
In hindsight, I think part of my discontent with the Monastery was the presence of a large hotel that surrounded it on a couple of sides. That certainly lessened for me the reverential atmosphere I had hoped to achieve at the Monastery.
In the small green space outside the Monastery, there were lots of waterfalls.

We walked next to the tiny, almost doll-like, St. Paraskeva Church aka Church of the Holy Mother Spring right across from the Monastery.
Paintings in the entranceway:

The church had very brightly colored walls and ceilings that seemed almost garish in comparison to the earlier frescoes.
After leaving the church, we walked across a small bridge that obviously was well used as a wishing well.

A short way from the monastery there were a whole line of souvenir stalls with each selling virtually the same thing. I felt badly for the vendors as there were so few tourists who would warrant all those shops being open. We knew not to get too close to the peacocks. The few we saw, though, didn't appear to be cranky!
There was nothing to do apart from eating or drinking in one of the restaurants or bars, taking another boat ride to a nearby spring or looking at souvenirs. We had no interest in any of that so Steven, who can fall asleep seemingly at the drop of a hat, did just that! I have been on a David Baldacci tear since leaving home so I took the time to catch up on some reading. I made sure also to be on the lookout for peacocks who might wander too close by to Steven!

The runoff from one of the two rivers that feeds into Ohrid Lake:
Whiling away time waiting for our boat to leave, we watched this man for a bit. He offered to take us for a ride but we were content to sit and wait til our boat left.

We left St. Naum at 2:30 for the ride back to Ohrid. It was much warmer on the return so we didn’t need the blankets as much.

Another view with my telephoto lens of St. Jovan at Kaneo Church as we neared the harbor.
This photo of the Fortress we toured yesterday gives you a good sense of the immense size of it.
It was hard not to see why Ohrid is such a popular destination spot when you see its stunning lakeside location, beautiful red-tiled roofs all set against the backdrop of a blue sky and massive fir trees.
It was amazing to think that a full month had gone by since we began touring the former Yugoslav republics and all that we had seen and learned in that space of time. In the morning, the next phase of our trip awaited us as we ventured on to Albania.

Posted from Gjirokaster, Albania on October 3rd, 2016.


  1. Hi Annie and Steve,incredible trip, beautiful pictures especially the ones you are in.

    1. Thanks, Gloria, for your comment about the pictures - it's so kind of you.

  2. Haha! The first thing l thought was he dares to sleep after the peacock warning sign? Glad you were on the lookout :-). I remember one Christmas when l was about 10 and got chased by a turkey, much to the amusement of my family..Let's just say l took particular delight in eating it afterwards :-). This sounds like a lovely trip, I always enjoy boat trips and glad you had blankies to keep you warm. Looking forward to reading more of your stories, and thanks for commenting on the blog.

    1. Kemkem: Thanks for taking the time to comment - it's great knowing people enjoyed certain posts.

      I just laughed when I read your tale of relishing eating the turkey after it had chased you - nothing like divine retribution! Day-long boat trips are always a fun part of our trips and we try and plan several each year on our 'adventures.' Perhaps one day, when we're old (or should I say, older!), we might even actually go on a cruise.


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