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?