Published: October 9th 2012October 2nd 2012
Горна Порта и Света Богородица Перивлепта
Gorna Porta and Sveta Bogorodica Perivlepta - Upper Gate into walled part of old city and The Virgin Peribleptos, Ohrid. Not sure about the significance of the church as it was closed.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is now fortunately known simply as Macedonia. After achieving independence from Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Macedonia was forced to adopt the lengthy moniker in order to avoid tensions with Greece. I only visited Lake Ohrid which many say is the highlight of Macedonia. Hard to disagree as it is beautiful. I am currently in Shkodra, Albania and heading to Budva, Montenegro via Ulcinj tomorrow morning. Albania has been a pleasant surprise.
$US ≈ 48MKD (Macedonian dinars) but accommodation and much transport can be paid for with euros Accommodation and food
After arriving from Istanbul on a 16 hour bus ride I was not up for a long search for a place to crash. By chance I met a very nice Albanian political organizer who took me around to an ATM then to breakfast with his Albanian friends who treated me to eggs, ham, and 3 espressos which propeled me across the street to Hotel Toni. A nice, very clean single room with breakfast, private bathroom (but hot water not available 24 hours), TV, and WiFi was 1500MKD or €25. I'm sure cheaper places were available since it was the end of the tourist
Right smack in the middle of Ohrid's old town. First few rows later removed for gladiator battles.
season but I was not too keen on schlepping my luggage around town. For lunch I grabbed a burek
(very filling Turkish/Balkan filo pastry stuffed with meat, cheese, spinach, or some combination) for ~50MKD. I ate a couple of dinners at La Piazza just back from the waterfront. They seemed to be having an end of the season blowout on the entire menu so it was crowded. Great pasta (especially the lasagne) and massive salads for a few dollars each. Cafes, espresso, and ice cream stands are all over town. Lake Ohrid boat trip to Sveti Naum Monastery
At least one boat seems to depart everyday promptly at 10 am supposedly returning to Ohrid at 2 pm but our boat did not get back until almost 4 pm. 600MKD (can pay in euros but slightly cheaper to pay in dinars) and well worth the price. The monastery grounds are nice but the highlight of the trip is simply the views. There are a couple of small cafes and a schwanky restaurant in the hotel attached to the monastery. About 2½ hours are spent ashore part of which can be spent walking the moderate and relatively flat loop to see
As see from Самуилова Тврдина (Samuil's Fortress, 30 dinar entrance and great views).
2 or 3 more churches and the natural springs which can also be viewed up close in a small motorboat for an extra fee. Transport
There are 3 buses/day departing Istanbul's otogar
for Macedonia via Greece (expect at least an hour at each border crossing and to possibly be asked to smuggle cigarettes into Macedonia). I went with Alpar Turizm leaving at 7 pm and arriving first in Skopje around 6 am then Ohrid at 9:30 am after stops in Tetovo and Struga. Yadran serves the same route at 8 pm. Tickets on either bus cost 95 Turkish lira or €40. Vardar Turizm departs at 5 pm but terminates in Skopje. Local buses ply the route to Sveti Naum but the boat ride is much nicer. Buses also leave regularly for Struga (40MKD). Transport from Ohrid to Albania
Crossed from Lake Ohrid to Tiranë, Albania last week. The lake is actually shared by by both countries but most of it lies in Macedonia. First I took a share taxi from Ohrid to Struga (no need to go to the bus station as the taxis leave from the bus stop in the center of town). The fare was 50MKD/person
to the center of Struga which is a 5 minute walk from the bus terminal. The bus passes through Struga ~9:30 am and 12:30 pm from Tetovo to Tiranë. There are rumors of a night bus but I gathered from the girl selling tickets that it only operates in summer. The fare including the 50MKD terminal tax was 660MKD, credit cards accepted. The border crossing took about an hour and there are currency exchange facilities but the rates were poor. There is also a Raffeisen ATM on the Albanian side dispensing lekë and euros. Better to unload unwanted dinars in Ohrid where the rates are good. After crossing the border there is a short break at a restaurant/cafe. The bus first passes Durrës before arriving in Tiranë shortly after 2 pm if taking the morning departure from Struga.
There is another crossing at the south end of Lake Ohrid but I was not sure how long I would have to wait for transport from Pogradec on the Albanian side to Tiranë and I was eager to get to Shkodra as soon as possible. As it turned out, I only lingered in Tiranë for 5 minutes which was just long
enough to catch a furgon
(usually a mini-bus but in my case a 6 passenger station wagon) to Shkodra in Northern Albania.
There are more photos below