Thessaloniki to Skopje via Ohrid

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Europe » Macedonia
June 12th 2010
Published: June 15th 2010
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Saturday 12th June, 2010
Km so far: 1701

Left Thessaloniki and headed west towards Edessa and Florina. More green countryside and we chanced upon a lovely lakeside café where we stopped for a coffee break. Refuelled in Florina and we were expecting fuel to be more expensive in Macedonia.

Found our way to the border without to much difficulty but the compass was proving essential to navigation as signs often peter out. Entering the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was not difficult, border police very friendly and helpful, but they would not accept that our pan-European insurance (bought from AIG in Cyprus) applied in their country. They wanted to see a green card which our broker had said we would not need. Whether it would have made any difference is debatable but my advice is to insist on getting a green care as it could save you money. As it was it cost us €60 to buy 15 days’ insurance from an insurance agent who happened to be there. This suggests another possible hazard: if we had turned up outside normal business hours we would probably not have been able to buy the insurance and been told to come back the following day.

As we headed north into Macedonia our left flank was dominated by a high mountain range with patches of snow on the peaks even in June. The roads are not as well kept as in Greece, but generally we made good progress through more spectacular mountain countryside and eventually arrived in Ohrid.

Ohrid is described as the most picturesque town in Macedonia and with good reason. It nestles on the edge of an enormous lake said to be 3 million years old and the deepest in Europe, like an inland sea. The town has ancient fortifications and numerous old churches and a quaint network of narrow streets that reminded us of medieval England. We didn’t have any Macedonian dinare but this was not a problem as everyone seemed content to accept Euros. Enjoyed a wonderful and inexpensive lunch in a lakeside restaurant before departing for Skopje.

Realised that the directions we had for finding our hotel were written by a computer and were useless, so drove into the centre of Skopje, Fiona got into a taxi and I followed to the hotel.

The Hotel Villa Vodno is a fantastic little place, with hosts that immediately made us feel welcome, fed and watered us then took us out on the town! Had a lovely evening in the old town, great outdoor eating, live jazz, then as we left a rock band belting out the classics in a free open air concert in the shadow of the ancient fort.


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