Lake Ohrid & Skopje, Macedonia

Our next country to conquer was Macedonia! I was so excited to finally get there and indulge in the beautiful culture.

Our cousins drove us from Florina to Bitola, which was about 45 minutes. We stopped briefly in Bitola for a frappe (obviously) and to go through the market, which is what is very well known for. After spending the afternoon there, we took a bus to Lake Ohrid, which was about 3 hours.We stayed right in the city centre, which was an apartment overlooking the water. Macedonia is incredibly cheap in comparison to the other places I had been to in the past 6 months. Actually, by far the MOST cheap. Should’ve done this on my student budget.  Where Ohrid is located, it borders Albania, so you could realistically see another country from the other side of the lake. They did a lot of boat tours that would take you on day trips there.

Anywho, hearing Macedonian music, seeing and eating familiar food, and listening to my dad fluently converse with people in Macedonian made me so proud of my culture! It’s also so exciting to see stores selling Macedonian flags and sweaters. There were also live bands at all the places we went for dinner.

Lake Ohrid is a tourist town, so there weren’t many locals, in comparison to those on vacation. Some of the things we visited were Samuel’s Fortress, Kaneo (which is the Church you’ll see overlooking the water in any picture of Ohrid,) and the Ancient Theatre of Ohrid. We spent most of our days walking through the market and sitting and drinking frappes by the water. It was a relaxing few days, and a nice break from all the walking in the past 3 cities.

Our final stop on our Macedonian tour was in the capital, Skopje. We took a bus from Ohrid, which was about 3 hours. Just to let you know HOW cheap Macedonia is, this bus cost about $10- to go halfway across the country. 1 Macedonian Denar equals less than 25 cents in Canada. FYI- It costs almost $20 to take the Go Bus from Waterloo to Toronto. Can I live in Macedonia for a while to save my money?

Moving on. We took a free tour in Skopje on our first day. We saw the Old Bridge, the Memorial House of Mother Theresa (she was born here!) and the Millennium Cross. There were huge fountains with statues of Mother Theresa and Alexander the Great. We went to the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, as well as the Holocaust Memorial Centre.

What we really noticed about Skopje was how gold everything was. Yes, gold. There were huge statues literally everywhere. Actually, it is known for having the most statues in the capital city in the world. It was definitely not what I expected, but it was really fun to see that the centre of Skopje, called Macedonia Square, there was the largest (and most obnoxious) status of King Alexander on a horse. Hilarious. It was on top of a huge fountain that lit up at night as well. All these statues are relatively new, as the most recent statutes was put up last year. This is part of the 2014 Skopje Project.

Skopje was really pretty at night because all the fountains lit up and there were people everywhere. All the restaurants were patios right near the Stone Bridge, and it was always a lively atmosphere. It was nice hearing songs that I grew up listening to to with my Baba, actually being played in public and singing along!

That concludes my Macedonian cultural adventure! Our final stop was to Thessaloniki, and then back to Toronto!!!

Until my next adventure,

Larissa

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