We had heard the church of St. John, further along the bay, was a beautiful spot, so we headed there first. It actually wasn't nearly as far as it looked on the map, although the steep streets and flights of steps make you work for it! Dating back to the 13th century or thereabouts, it is pretty tiny inside, and covered with frescoes. What really makes it special is its beautiful location, perched on a cliff looking out over the lake.
Since we were there, we decided to head up a nearby flight of stairs to get the above view of the church and also to head to a nearby archaeological site called Plaoshnik. According to the internet, it features beautiful mosaics and an old church. All we could see was a fenced-off collection of unimpressive-looking ruins. Maybe we should have tried a bit harder to find it, since it seemed we missed out on a nice spot.
It was pretty hot and tiring work getting up the hill, but since we had come halfway up and failed to find the archaeological site, we kept going to the very top of the hill and visited Tsar Samuel's Fortress. This is basically a shell, with only its perimeter wall really left intact. You can climb all the way up this in a couple of spots though, and walk around most of the wall, which offers some beautiful views both over the city and the lake.
|Standing on the walls - not much to see in the middle of the fortress|
|But the view from the battlements over the lake is gorgeous|
We also read online that St John's was the perfect place to watch the sun set over the lake. From our hotel, you couldn't really see because the hill was in the way, but St John's did indeed offer the perfect vantage point. We timed it to perfection, arriving just as the sun began sinking over the horizon. Lucky we did, because it set really fast, dipping below the hills on the Albanian side of the lake in a matter of minutes.
|For some reason, I get an almost Egyptian vibe from this photo - just imagine the boat is like one of those you see on the Nile|
|St John's just after the sun set|