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Ohrid II

Today was all about churches. I am not mildly religious but given the sheer weight of numbers it’s hard to go far in Ohrid without slipping into the front door of one and paying your 100 DEN ( 65 pence) to witness some pretty impressive sights . 

But first.. the fallacy that is the Ohrid pearl industry. Story goes, dependant on who you believe, that Ohrid is famous for its production of pearls. “ Isn’t Ohrid on a lake though ?” I hear you scream in your best Macedonian. Correct, but don’t let that get in the way of a decent sell. Despite 100% of these “pearls “ being artificially produced in China and then hand painted with a fine coat of Lake Ohrid fish scale oil, people still flock in their thousands and pay hundreds to purchase these local items. Believing as they may want to do that these “pearls “ are unique to Ohrid. Bernie Madoff would be proud.

This chap was, in his own words, differentiating between “first class and economy class “ paper that had dried and was now being sorted to determine which would be used for manuscripts and which for basic picture printing. The fact he was doing it on the boot of a 1975 Zavast added to the moment.

Church of St Sophia

Sveti Kilment Ohridski. Set on a small peninsula below the fort and offering panoramic views of Lake Orhid this church has views to take your breath away. It’s interior is almost as appealing.

Archway views at Sveti Kilment Ohridski

Tsar Samuels Fort. Overlooking Ohrid and Lake Ohrid it’s not a bad place to be on a almost cloudless Autumns morning.

Church of Our Lady Perivlepta. If you only visit one church in Ohrid this is your puppy. Quite remarkable, if not THE most impressive frescoes I have ever witnessed in any church anywhere in the world. Absolutely stunning. 

Monastary of Saint Naum. This is situated 27 km south of Ohrid just 1 km from the Alabanian border. Owned by the church but managed by the solitary monk-in-residence  this is a lakeside oasis of beauty and calm. Saint Naums burial place resides within this church and the frescoes are only just beaten into second place by those at Our Lady Perivlepta by a single fine hair of an artists paint brush. Resident peacocks stand guard. Speaking of colourful birds. Here’s something you didn’t know about peacocks. They shed heir feathers in a seasonal pattern to the extent that come the shortest day of the year they are at their lowest feather count and by June 22 are at their fullest plumage. 

The little boy in me wanted to take a ride on this. Being fully clothed and facing water temperatures in the low teens were both mild deterrents. It did make me smile though. Something simple and free. 

Sunset over Lake Ohrid looking from Macedonia towards Alabania in the West. 

Having visited more churches in a morning  than seemingly the Pope does, I took a private guided tour in the afternoon with Misho from his own company

“Cultura 365” . Reticent at first, I can honestly say it was the best value for 45 EUR I think I will get on this trip. 5 hours in the company of a local with encyclopaedic knowledge  of all things Macedonia and Lake Ohrid, Misho was great company and well worth looking up if you’re ever here. 

Observations - 

without fail every Macedonian who hears I am from Australia will state they have a brother- sister - cousin - aunt - uncle - half brother / sister - lover - ex boyfriend  - ex girlfriend - cat - dog who now lives in “Mella-bourne”. Quite staggering really. 

If I thought Albanian men had perfected the 4 day swarthy stubble then they are merely apprentices in comparison to the Macedonians

Strangely enough get a Macedonian talking about Greece and things get emotional which is sort of OK when you’re standing or sitting still. Not so great when he should have both hands on the wheel as we negotiate a narrow steep roadway 600 metres above the lake. 

A surprisingly high number of Macedonians speak surprisingly good English. 

Getting a smile out of a Macedonian male who is not in the service industry is akin to trying to grab smoke or herd cats. Impossible. 

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