We explore Ohrid – the most prominent sight of Macedonia, leave the beaten track and by chance discover the most beautiful place in the country.
The town of Ohrid was on our to-see list and we loved it. A great vibe, beautiful view over the Lake Ohrid, old houses in its historic centre, great and affordable food and definitely less tourism than in any of the places in Croatia make Ohrid special.
Did you know?: The small town of Ohrid once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year. For that reason it was once referred to as a “Jerusalem of the Balkans”. Some of the old churches and monasteries are well preserved up to this day. The only downside: the entrance to the town´s old churches is not for free.
After a walk across town, we went down the eastern side of the lake. On the right side of the main road, we discovered a hidden beach and spent some hours in almost complete solitude. Between the main road and the lake, we spotted several good places one may park for the night with a 4×4.
Rural Macedonia was the next thing on our to-see list. Five years ago we went to Macedonia and had a marvellous time in the countryside near Skopje. The old stone houses in the old villages, extremely friendly people, green slopes and tiny monasteries with friendly monks were the memories I cherished about our visit. So it becomes obvious why we were so eager to see more of the Macedonian villages. The most stunning one that we found was Malovishte. Some impressions:
The locals in Malovishte were incredibly friendly as well: An old lady approached us on the street to greet us. My paltry understanding of Macedonian based on its similarity with Russian, which I speak, allowed me to get an idea of what she was saying: She was asking if we were hiking in the hills. With approval, she then added: one should walk while one is young. Then there was the shepherd we met, he came to us with his hand outstretched in front of him. Traumatized by our Ethiopian experience, Balti first thought, he was going to ask for money; fortunately it seems I had overcome Ethiopian memories already and shook the shepherd’s hand. We had a small conversation while guiding his cows and horses, about at what times the nearby monastery is open for visitors. In reality, the conversation was more of a monolog the shepherd told us this and that – and we mostly had no idea what he was saying, but his interest in us, his eagerness to provide us with information, the earnest desire to be helpful made me think that the Macedonian villagers have mastered the highest standards of communication.
We just couldn’t leave Malovishte and the original plan to have a dinner with local Tikves vine and boreks in some place with a beautiful view didn´t quite work out. We got our supplies for supper in the town of Bitola but it was almost dark when we finished our grocery shopping. There was not much to see in the town of Bitola itself, but getting there for its boreks is worthwhile – they are not fatty, full of spinach and cheese, they are huge and cost only 75 cents! In the darkness, we drove into the Pelister National Park (forested mountains) to find shelter for the night.