It has been a strange week. I have had a very low energy week. The heat in Skopje is oppressive. I am impatient with my blog’s progress. I have booked to go to the UNESCO nature and heritage area of Lake Ohrid. I think will I go. I decide. I booked it so I am going.
I have booked my bus and Bed and Breakfast to go see the only UNESCO natural and culture area in Macedonia in Lake Ohrid. One of Europes oldest settlements.
Last week was really hot in Skopje. The aircon in my apartment is a bit weird. I don’t really like aircon but when it is this hot I don’t have a choice. I must use it. It is in the living room so it does not really work in the bedroom. So here is how my nights are going. I start in the bed until I awake in a bog of sweat. Make my way to the sofa in the living room. Fall asleep again. Wake up and go back into the bedroom. Repeat again. Airconditioning gives me a headache. I don’t sleep naturally with it. In the mornings after I use it, I feel wrecked. By last Friday I can barely keep my eyes open but can’t really get a normal sleep also. I swing one way and then the other way about my weekend away. In the end, I decided to carry on with my plan to go to Ohrid in the south of Macedonia and see Lake Ohrid.
The bus from Skopje to Ohrid Macedonia
I am getting used to buses now in the Balkans. When I was buying my bus ticket at Skopje bus station. I ask for 1 return bus ticket to Ohrid Macedonia, please. The cost about 12.50 Euro. Not bad. Then I ask how long will the 172km journey take. Not more than 3 hours I am told. 2 months now using buses in the Balkans I am no longer naive. I add 25% on. I am right.
Stack them in. The bus from Skopje to Ohrid
It was an eventful bus journey to Lake Ohrid to the south of Macedonia. Everyone that had brought a ticket got to go. That included at least 20 people standing in the aisle. We had one stop to tie the middle door tight with a rope. You get to a stage where you don’t worry about health and safety. You just want to get to your destination.
On the return journey when I went into the bus station in Ohrid Macedonia I had to go from the bus ticket desk to an office across the road. Back to the bus ticket desk and through a guy checking the tickets. By the time I get on the bus, I have 6 different type of receipts and that is after giving the bus drivers 2 tickets.
For those lucky enough to get to visit Lake Ohrid and go by bus from Skopje to Ohrid. The buses seem to run every hour from an early hour and most of the day. There are different bus companies so if you are doing a return journey the bus you take from Skopje will have set times they return from Ohrid to Skopje. At Ohrid bus station you will need to validate your ticket before boarding the bus and paying an extra 30 Danar which is 0.50 cent at the bus ticket desk. If someone is sitting on your seat just sit on someone else’s and pretend to be asleep. That’s what I did. No way was I standing for 4 hours.
My return bus ticket minus 2
Accommodation in Ohrid Macedonia
Ok, my head is not working at 100% after a week of 35c heat and my devil aircon in my apartment in Skopje. I also have had a bit of a stir-crazy week. In Sofia Bulgaria, I found the Bulgarians a bit of a contradiction. They can look a bit grim. Smiling is frowned upon. The strange thing is I had some great conversations with Bulgarians mostly in bars. Once you got talking to them they liked to talk.
So far it is a little different with the Macedonians. They don’t seem to frown. They can smile a bit more than the Bulgarian. In the shops and bars, they are friendly but I am finding it difficult to engage in conversation with them. The Bulgarian will chat to you even if it is to tell you how shit Bulgaria is.
Grandma and Granddad and I drinking local moonshine
So for my visit to Lake Ohrid, I book Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Ohrid town. I usually do not use bed and breakfast accommodation. I am easy going with places to stay but I like to have my own bathroom. I choose the Bed and Breakfast so I can chat to local Macedonian people a bit more. It was a good idea. Grandma and Grandad were great.
Ok, first of all, they are not my Grandma and Granddad. That is what they said to call them. At least that is what I think they said as the did not speak English but they were great fun. Every time I came in or went out I had to have a Rakia a Macedonia type of homebrew brandy. Not only every time but it was more than one each time. Not bad for 10 euro a night for a room with a balcony.
I did share the balcony with a loverly Serbian couple and we also shared some wine and cheese on the balcony on Saturday night. I also had the best 2 nights sleep in a month as Lake Ohrid blew a cool nighttime breeze over the town. I think it will be Bed and Breakfast all the way from here on in.
View from single room Bed and Breakfast in Ohrid Macedonia
Things to do in Ohrid Macedonia
After I checked in to my bed and breakfast I walked around Ochrid town in Macedonia. After the 4-hour bus journey and 4 Rakias drinks, I was a bit hungry so I sat down in the Bazaar in Ohrid. I ordered a goulash and a beer. I was told it was a Halal restaurant so no beer. I was hungry so I had water. The beer would have to wait. A big bowl of goulash and a water came to a princely 3 euro. The Bazaar was also full of jewellers. I was surprised that most of the shops seem to be open up to almost midnight. It was August so I am not sure if it is a seasonal thing.
Later I took my first swim since I left Las Palmas. I went down to where Ohrid town meets Lake Ohrid. On a hot summer August day, I joined the many locals and enjoyed a cool swim on Lake Ohrid. After a few sticky weeks in Skopje, I enjoyed the cool breeze that Lake Ohrid sends over the town of Ohrid. Here where Ohrid town meets Lake Ohrid is full of bars and restaurants and is a very popular place to go once the sun sets in the evening as locals and tourists mix.
Also at the edge of the town, you will find numerous boat tours at very cheap prices for various tours of the lake. I took a trip across to the Saint Naum Monastery 30km from Ohrid town. For 10 euro it included a return boat trip of just under 1 and a half hour each way and almost 4 hours to visit Saint Naum Monastery area. Saint Naum founded the Monastery in 905.
Once you take in the Monastery there are many restaurants to enjoy near where the boats dock. There is also a tiny beach here where you can swim in the lake during the warmer months.
The big attraction for me of Saint Naum was the nearby natural springs that come from underground and seep into Lake Ohrid. I think it was the clearest water I have ever seen. You can see the bottom which is not that deep but you know if it was deeper you could still see it. You can actually take another smaller boat to go around the spring waters that go into Lake Ohrid. I prefer to walk around the edge of the spring waters and enjoyed bumping into more churches.
Underwater springs Saint Naum
After a very enjoyable 4 hours, I embarked on the boat for the return journey to Ochrid town. I noticed on the way over in the morning that Lake Ohrid was so still and clear you would think you’re looking at the bottom but you are not. I was thinking it was so placid you could swim to nearby Albania. On the way back the lake looked a bit angrier. Just proves how dangerous water can be no matter how beautiful it can be.
Lake Ohrid boats
So I would definitely recommend Lake Ohrid for a visit. It is not a lads or girls week away destination if you are looking for a party holiday. I don’t think any of Macedonia even the capital Skopje is ideal for that. Yet.
Ohrid is an ideal place for a chilled out holiday where you explore the many amazing sites around Lake Ochrid during the day. In the evening you can enjoy a meal and a drink in one of the many bars and restaurants and bars on the shoreline or in the Bazaar.
Ok, a little about my new blog. I am very new to this so I thought I would share a bit about my experiences. The challenges along the way. Maybe it can be of help to others.
Facebook for blog visitors.
Day 1 of a new blog you start the most important challenge. How do I let people know I have a blog. Of course, we all know the power of Facebook but Facebooks number 1 priority is to make money.
I have over 800 so-called friends. I don’t mean that in a bad way but I am sure you understand. If you have a facebook page you can access stats. It shows me that out of my 800 facebook friends my last post reached 140. That means it appeared on their timeline. It does not mean they read it. None of us read everything on our timeline. As a guy who has done a few jobs on stats and reporting I know if you had 10% of all people that saw your timeline read it you would be doing very well. So my 800 friends become 140 reached and 14 read the post. Of course, if you pay Facebook to give you visitors they will give you as much as you will pay for. Another thing you need to consider is Facebook may not be around one day
Twitter for bloggers
Again the challenge I face is starting from scratch. I actually think I was one of the first people on Twitter in Ireland. A tweet I sent out almost derailed a new business I was starting. I had to delete my Twitter account ha ha ha. Oh to have that power again but that is a story for another day.
One thing I noticed about a lot of people on twitter is they may have a lot of followers but many of these are what I would call static followers. For example the Bank of Ireland. I am fairly sure the Bank of Ireland twitter account is not really interested in my time in Bulgaria unless they are following me for unpaid loans. To be honest I don’t really care about the Bank of Ireland either. I think the task is getting people who want to read your posts. Quality over quantity. That said I do like following other bloggers for tips.
How often to post a blog. There is for sure a lot of advice. One top guy says one a day and another one a month. All the rest are in between. If I post one blog a day I know I will be talking absolute rubbish. Anyone would be. Once a month is not enough I feel.
I am for better or worse going to do a weekly blog post. A real honest review on how my travels and life is going over the previous week wherever I am in the world. Currently, it is in the Balkans.
I also want to put together every now and again a fact post on places I have been. I think these may be of help to people. The things you might want to know about various cities I have visited. Renting accommodation. Public transport and other similar types of info.
I really think that if you have the time more people should look at visiting places for a longer period of time. There are so many cheap interesting places to see in the world. Retirement no longer means staying in the home looking out the window.
From BEER to Eternity
Ok, the lowdown on the price of beer in Ohrid Macedonia. I paid between 70 and 100 Danar for a beer. That is about from 1.15 to 1.65 euro. I did see some of the posher bars charging about 2 euro a beer as I walked by laughing at the thought of paying 2 euro for a beer.
In my mission to prove even mean people can travel and enjoy cheap beer and food, I am happy to announce cheap haircuts. I negotiated a haircut and moustache trim for 3.50 euro at the Skopje Bazaar. I look a lot happier than the barber but I am sure I paid not less than a local. Before you judge it is people like me are keeping a check on inflation.
Who looks happier. Me or the barber?
This weeks video is from my visit to Lake Ohrid. Click here to review.
Join me on my journey.
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