Thursday, July 30, 2015

Living the Macedonian dream

So, our Albanian road trip turned into a Macedonian road trip as we continued around Lake Ohrid to our destination, also called Ohrid (quite the coincidence).

We only drove on a very small and pretty touristy section of Macedonian roads, so it might be unfair to comment, but they did seem better-maintained and the drivers less crazy than their Albanian counterparts.

I wanted to detour out of Albania to Ohrid because I thought it would be a beautiful, relaxing spot to spend the last few days of our holiday, and also because I had read there were some lovely and historic churches and monasteries in the area which I was keen to visit. It is true that there are some nice churches, but it probably delivered more on the relaxing front than the cultural. The churches were pretty and richly-decorated (more on them later), but very small on the whole, so you couldn't fill up too much time on each one.

As for the city itself, it was probably the most "complete package" of the destinations on our trip. It has the stunningly beautiful lake, an old town artfully piled up on the hillside which screams "Balkan city" (I've not been to Croatia, but it reminds me of photos I've seen of the likes of Dubrovnik, with all the red roofs), good food, sunshine, shopping, and cultural activities. On the downside, the beaches are, unsurprisingly, not up to snuff compared to those on the Albanian Riviera, and as mentioned, the cultural stuff is nice but not absorbing.

Still, it most definitely seems like the sort of place you dream of moving to and living a life of leisure, sipping cocktails in a lake-front restaurant or enjoying the view from a terrace on the hill.

Speaking of which, here's the view from our hotel balcony, which cost the princely sum of 30€ a night:


It's actually even better in real life


Looking down on the city at dusk

Sunset view from the hotel

The night view, captured as we sat on the balcony sipping Macedonian wine

We happened to be there at the same time as a folk music festival, and the folk music festival happened to be at a location where we could hear the concerts (over multiple nights) while sitting on the hotel balcony. It's fair to say not all the music was to my taste - it is folk music, after all - but it was pretty special to be able to sit out there, enjoying the view and listening to some traditional music. Slightly spoilt by the noisy family on the adjoining balcony who seemed to mystifyingly prefer to listen to practically the same music, but on a radio instead of the live version. Savages!



We spent a good amount of time trying to think up get-rich-quick schemes so we could pack it all in in dreary northern Europe and find our own dreamy balcony here minus the annoying family next door. Any ideas?

8 comments:

  1. The blog ate my comment again :(

    The Macedonian wine we had was really nice too! I particularly liked the Vranec, a grape variety local to the Balkans. The peacock on the etiquette was cute too: http://stobiwinery.mk/vranec-veritas-en.nspx, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/Stobi_Mosaik.jpg/1280px-Stobi_Mosaik.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  2. There's nothing like live music. Even if you wouldn't have listened to it in your free time, certainly a special unexpected cultural experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, one evening they had a male choir that sounded a bit like Gregorian chant or something. It sounded really atmospheric in the old town, like being back in medieval times or something.

      Delete
  3. 26 seconds of music video and I feel like going out and shooting the band!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, that was the warm-up/sound check, so they played that one refrain over and over! Not the best bit, but it was dark by the time it started properly.

      Delete
  4. Those views are lovely. M xx

    ReplyDelete

Feed the Comment Monster! Rawrrrr