The City That Stole My Heart: Ohrid, Macedonia

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Source: Ellen Jenne

You’ve never heard of it, right? Don’t worry, neither had I until this time last year. I had a friend who was on a mission to travel to twelve different countries during every month, he was scouring SkyScanner for cheap flights to any random and obscure places he could find. And, does it work? With flights ranging from forty pounds return to Copenhagen to the slightly more expensive flights of fifty-five pounds to Budapest, you are bound to find a deal within your price range, whether you find yourself on a tight budget or have lavish amounts to spend, you will never fail to find the flight perfect for you.

So, finding myself crammed in the back of taxi with a driver that assumed we were German, so spoke almost no English, the seven of us managed to find ourselves on the glorious lakefront of Ohrid, with a sweltering average temperature of 25 degrees. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. Surrounded by hills, Lake Ohrid is huge, bordering with the neighbouring Albania; which you can just make out in the distance. The air is stuffy, but don’t let that put you off, because it didn’t stop me from enjoying the scenery. The only way I can convey to you how sensational it was, is through the pictures my friends  and I took.

Admittedly, this trip was rather impulsive, and I was going with a few people I’d met for a short period of time; but would that stop you from jetting away to a country you’d probably only heard of due to the migrant border crisis only last year? Luckily, we found ourselves flying home before any of that news had hit home. With an exchange rate that none of us really got the grip of until the last day, which we found out was one Great British Pound to about 78 Macedonian Denar, we found ourselves paying an average of 30 pence for a bottle of Macedonian beer. Of which, if you ask any student, I’m sure will be a fan. So, beer it was for lunch and dinner and the occasional early breakfast tipple. You couldn’t keep us away from a cheeky pint at every chance we could find an excuse for; which eventually convinced ourselves we didn’t need after, maybe, the second pint.

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Source: Ellen Jenne
king samoils fortress
Source: Ellen Jenne

Iconic sites of the city include the ruins of St. Clement and St. Panteleimon, overlooking the lake. We went a little bit off piste trying to make our way to the site. It was more that we had stumbled upon it by chance, wading through knee-length grass and climbing up crumbling hills to get there. But, that was all part of the fun of it! Not knowing exactly where we were or where we were headed; but being under the scorching sun whilst we trekked. If you’re unbelievably pale like myself, I can’t recommend slapping on that factor 50 sun cream more! My shoulders were burnt for the next two months. There’s also the church of St. John at Kaneo, situated on the headland of Ohrid. It was a maze to get there; but once high above the water’s surface we could see for miles. Just be aware, that if you want to enter the churches, many of them require women’s legs to be covered, so be sure to wear something respectful to the local culture.

roman theatre in ohrid
Source: Ellen Jenne

If you want something a little more grand, visit King Samoil’s Fortress, which will allow you to long further inland into Ohrid. You’ll find yourself wondering why this tiny gem of a city has not been talked about more. We were lucky to find ourselves on Google Maps, as we were passed several times by a Google car, near the Ancient Theatre of Ohrid, which one of my friends managed to find months later!

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Source: Ellen Jenne

Once we had experienced our little bit of Macedonian culture, we were lucky to stumble upon a small beach bar on the far left side of the lake, the Cuba Libre Beach&Bar. With a vast array of classic cocktails, the lesser known, you can find yourself stretched out on one of their sun lounger sipping on a Blue Hawaiian, either watching the sun set over the lake, or under the stars listening to light beating music at night.

Unheard of and unknown to me and many of my friends I went with, we cannot thank SkyScanner enough for suggesting those all important cheap return flights. I fell in love with this city as soon as I saw the lake and I can’t recommend it enough for those wanting to explore the lesser known and peculiar areas of Europe. With a flurry of bars, hotels and hostels located right on the lake front, you won’t be short of places to stay, wine and dine, or just to explore. So, if you’re not looking for that boozy lads holiday, or just want a place to chill, explore and gain a little bit of culture whilst enjoying cheap booze and food, then Ohrid should be on your list.

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Source: Ellen Jenne

I can, honestly, say it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.


For more information about Ohrid, and all of the nitty-gritty details you need to know about preparing and exploring this hidden gem, visit these websites:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Ohrid

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/macedonia/southern-macedonia/ohrid

http://www.ohrid.com.mk/

http://m.exploringmacedonia.com/ohrid-m.nspx

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/macedonia

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History student and new Features Editor for 2016/17. Consumer of chocolate, of tea and vodka, voyeur of Scandinavian crime dramas , and writer...or attempting to anyway.

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