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Macedonia, August 2019

Skopje, Ohrid, and thereabouts.

Contains 271 photos, the last of which were added 2 years, 10 months, 2 days, 22 hours, and 2 minutes ago.

Library and cafe working around Skopje. Discovered that freddo espresso exists here. Found an airconditioned room in the big library near the old bazaar, but it's otherwise weirdly abandoned. Visited the art gallery in the old hammam, which is really cool - great art of all kinds, plus fascinating meta commentary about the nature of art.

Hanging out and eating in Skopje. Vegan 365 Kitchen finally opened after their extended summer break and their burgers are amazing.

A walk in Gazi Baba forest, in the north east of the city; a calm little oasis surrounded on all sides by busy roads.

Took a bus from Skopje to Ohrid, about 3.5 hours and 500mkd (~€8). Ohrid is a charming touristy town in the south of Macedonia, sitting on the shore of Lake Ohrid. Walked around the lake for seven hours, stopping to swim many times because the sun was hot and the water was cool. The shores are mostly rocky, but there are some sandy beaches. Hiking has the advantage over taking the bus that you can stop at all kinds of little coves and inlets in between the towns and villages, with no other people around. The beaches in the towns were packed.

Some hiking was wading when there wasn't really a trail, and sometimes the road had to be followed.

En route was the Bay of Bones, an archaelogical site from an 3000 year old settlement of people who lived on struts over the lake.

Ended in Trpejca, a small fishing village consisting largely of guesthouses, and spent the night there.

Swam in Trpejca, in a deserted spot a little way around from where everyone else was. Then followed the shore as far as possible, but eventually had to rejoin the road, all the way to Sveti Naum.

At Sv. Naum is a monastery set in charming well-kept grounds with peacocks. There's a hotel there too, which doesn't look as fancy IRL as it does on There is a big stretch of beach, full of people, and lines of souvenir shops. A couple of restaurants, including one out on the water called Ostrovo. From here you can hop in a boat for 200mkd (if you can find other people, or 600 if there's one or two of you - I invited myself into a group of loud but friendly Croatians). The boat does a 30 minute tour of the Sveti Naum springs. The water is so clear that even at 3.5m down you can see the springs bubbling up from the sandy bottom, fed from Lake Prespa on the other side of the mountains.

There's also a trail around the area of the springs, with several small churches along the way.

The 17:30 ferry back to Ohrid was late, arriving at 1800, otherwise I would have missed it. They sell return tickets from Ohrid, so not having one I had to wait until everyone else had boarded to see if there was space ("no we're full... oh okay it's fine on you get"). I still had to pay the return ticket fare, which was 600mkd (~€10).

The trip is about 2 hours, and the sun was starting to set behind the mountains, reflecting a bright orange off the opposite side of the lake shore.

I had wanted to take the opportunity to go to Bitola, only 1.5h from Ohrid, but I was feeling a bit exhausted and almost certain I'd missed the last bus. Ready to go "home" to Skopje, I unfortunately didn't get chance to see any more of Ohrid either - there's an old town, fort, and all kinds of cool things I'll have to go back for. Instead, bolted to the bus station just in time to make the last 20:30 bus back to Skopje.

Last week in Skopje, wrapping up all the eating that needed to be done.