Thursday, 15 August 2013

it's Ohrid

It's early morning when we reach Lake Ohrid.  Still, there are people already sunbathing and a couple having a dip.  The lake is Macedonia, apparently.  But if you check the small print it tells you that one-third of the lake lies in Albanian borders.  Never mind. It's big enough for everybody.  And old enough. 300 million years.  I feel young again.  The trout here date back from before the last Ice Age.  As you can imagine, they're bloody huge.  I'm feeling light-headed because we had broken sleep last night.  After Gayle had dropped off I heard something on the tent.  We were camped in a corner of a vineyard under a plum tree, so I guessed a plum had fallen.  Then I heard the noise again.  Headtorch on, I looked out into the porch.  We had left the tent flaps unzipped and folded back for some air before going to bed.  I could only see one of Gayle's sandals.  I gave her a nudge.  "Gayle, something's eaten your sandal."  She awoke with alacrity.  Headtorch on.  Outside the missing sandal had been abandoned not far away.  About two metres from us sat a small fox, calm as anything, staring at us.  He seemed to be asking us if we wanted to play. We didn't.  But he wouldn't budge.  It felt like that scene in Grizzly Man when 'Mr. Fox' comes a-calling.  A few minutes later he was pawing under the tail of the tent.  As a compromise I tossed our rubbish bag out of the porch and barked at him.  An hour later I could hear him prowling the tent again, light steps just passed by my ear.  In the morning paw prints up the front of the tent as if he'd peered in at us through the porch window. 

The town of Ohrid is a tourist hotspot at in the summer.  It has a UNESCO badge - presumably for the churches here.  This was the place where St. Kliment and Naum hung out, spreading the Word to the newly-arrived Slavs and getting busy with an alphabet in which to spread said збор.  Now I get confused with this bit, because Kliment sounds like Clement to me, but his name is also translated as Cyril.  And it is Kliment whom we can thank for all those indecipherable road signs we've been looking at in Macedonia. The Cyrillic alphabet originates here.  

As we cruise into the town centre we are accosted by a chap in a cap and, to his great advantage, on a bicycle.  Looking for a room? he asks.  No, thanks (but yes, we are actually).  He cruises alongside and adds: 15 euros, wi-fi, quiet location nearby.  We all stop in the road, he looks like a straight guy, let's have a look.  He leads the way through the traffic.  The room is fine and we take it.  The man (call me Vic, he says) tells us he lived in Australia for a few years but came back forty years ago.  The place is very quiet and handy for the centre.  We wander around the old town and call in at the post office where we collect a replacement thermarest mat and two more new mugs for our cookset.  The man at the poste restante counter was a cheery soul happy to satisfy our request.  We hadn't been so confident that this parcel would arrive so this was a good result.  

By all accounts the town should be heaving but it seems fairly mellow.  There are tourists around and Vic says that he's been full since the beginning of July but after a couple of days we realise that no-one seems to stay more than two nights and many only stop a night.  If this was our main holiday we wouldn't linger, but as we are in for the long haul, and as we're still playing for time in the heat, the place suits us fine.  We can have 'office' days, 'maintenance' days and lazy days as required.  And there's even a place selling roast chicken......  


  1. So obviously the rule that says that you should never accept help from the person who offers but, instead, choose who you ask for help, can be overruled depending on the circumstances. Guess it's all about going by your gut? And more questions! How does Poste Restante work? And (from your comment) I guess it's not infallible?

  2. Those rules are very hard to apply across the world. Each country is different, but Asia in general is very safe. Europeans tend not to approach strangers (out of fear?), northern Europeans are colder than southern Europeans (in all senses). Muslim cultures are usually very hospitable (but are you dressed appropiately/ going by their cultural norms? i.e.unaccompanied women can still be vulnerable) Yes, go with the gut. Poste restante is literally post waiting. Post can be sent to a main post office with your name on it (surname in capitals) and it should be held for a month. You go in, present a passport at the right counter and hopefully the post is there. We haven't lost a single item on this trip, but had a close run in Almaty because they demanded a tracking number e.g. a recorded delivery number. Coincidentally the post office had offered one for free when my dad posted the parcel. It's worth googling the relevant post office details to see if anyone reports using it or the local post office has a website in English with details. We used it a lot in South America and only lost an M&S bra to a postal worker in Buenos Aires.......