Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

North Macedonia - lake - h.k. photo

One of the places you should try and visit in Macedonia is Lake Ohrid. “With a maximum depth of 288 meters, Ohrid Lake is the deepest lake in Europe, but it’s also one of the world’s oldest ones. “According to most scientists, the lake is estimated to be more than 4 million years old.” (WIKI) Ohrid is a bit on the touristy side but only in relation to the rest of Macedonia. Personally, I like it and I think it’s definitely worth a visit.

Another candidate for a visit is Bitola, Macedonia’s second-largest city. Bitola seems to be completely devoid of foreign tourists. It is probably the most European-looking in terms of architecture and there is actually a lot to see. There are ruins, an old bazaar, busy pedestrian streets, lots of shopping, active nightlife, and the rather splendid Pelister National Forest a stone's throw away.

Macedonia’s nature is unbelievable. Countless mountains, 3 national parks, 53 lakes, the Vardar River, valleys, caves…it really has it all so no shortage of things to do if you are a fan of the great outdoors. Oddities This might just be one of the most surprising facts about Macedonia.

 In general, you could say that Macedonia deserves more attention than it gets, and it's very good for budget travelers. Enjoy.“ (by Alan Durant, 2021)

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“We only spent three days here, but even in that short time, we saw enough tourist potential in Macedonia to believe it could quickly become a popular tourist destination. Skopje is a laid-back, sunny city, but if you combine it with the Matka Canyon it makes the perfect weekend getaway.

If you’re also planning to visit Ohrid, you could easily spend a week here. The view of the Macedonian mountains is quite simply breathtaking. Tourists are still an unusual sight for locals, and they don’t necessarily know yet how to cater to them. Even with all the strangeness, though, we still found Macedonia a pleasant surprise.” (2018)

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What do you have to watch out for?

The red light means as little as the green light here – nobody pays attention

You might have a green light to cross at a zebra, but they’ll still run you over if you don’t jump out of the way. Seriously. Someone missed me by about 5cm, going at 70km/h, even though there was a green man for me to cross

The Albanian district of Skopje is pretty rough. Trust me, I was there. Be careful.

There are many begging Roma. They get down on their knees in front of you and all the rest of it. You have to speak to them firmly. A little girl clung, limpet-like, to the leg of a colleague, and he just carried on, dragging her behind him…

Be careful if you’re driving, because you can always get caught out by different driving customs. Plenty of people cycle on the highway here or drive a horse and cart.

They tie up cows on the grass reservation in the middle of the highway. While driving we hit one – it had stuck its head out into the oncoming traffic and – bam – we hit it.

It May go without saying for some, but don’t try the sheep-gut soup – it messes with your head.



Practicals

Transport

Drunk driving: for car drivers, there is a penalty above 0.5 per mile.

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,, Macedonia definitely has a feeling of the east this was well illustrated by an occasion when I was standing by the side of the road and saw a large black dot approaching steadily. It turned out to be a Gypsy guy leading a very big bear on a lead. I just stood well back as they ambled past. That is the third time something like that has happened to me in the Balkans. I suppose bears need to take for a walk just as much as dogs.

Walking along the sides of roads if there is no pavement should in general be approached with caution, not just because of bears out for a stroll. Macedonians change completely when they get into a car. The people in general are fine, but they drive like they are suicidal. It has been suggested to me that it is because in the past they would have been used to driving underpowered cars like Lada’s and Yugo’s and now that they have cars with more horsepower they still push their foot down as far as they used to. This results in them rocketing off and flying along risking life and limb for themselves and anyone in a large radius around. Who can tell why they drive like Michael Schumacher on a bad day, just be ready to leap for your life.

Not walking on the actual road can however be tricky. Pavements are often used for parking at the expense of walking. Life must be hell if you are in a wheelchair. The right-hand lane on roads is meant for buses but cars park in it or just pull up while someone nips out to go in a local shop. It's not unusual to see a car blocking the lane with its engine running and doors open while someone dives into a shop to get a packet of cigarettes.

Lots of people seem to share taxis in Macedonia and it seems like a good system, probably a good idea to fix a price before you set off though. It seems to be that they wait near bus stops to gather fares, so that’s really my only advice for finding one. There also buses of course." (by Alan Durant, 2021)

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“The airport (Alexander the Great) looks relatively new, but it doesn’t seem to have a lot of traffic. You can get to the city by bus, but only about 10 buses a day depart from the airport to the city center. In a word, there are few buses, and they are certainly not synchronized to the incoming flights. The next bus would have left a full hour and a half after our arrival, so the only other option was a taxi. This is true, by the way, both for arriving and departing. Our flight home was at 8.20 in the morning, but the only possible bus would have departed from the city center at 4 a.m. So I think the taxi drivers here have done a deal with the bus company.” (2018)


North Macedonia - confidently riding bareback

Food

,, One thing that takes a bit of getting used to is that Macedonians seem to smoke everywhere and all the time and I mean everywhere. A lot of places do have designated smoking areas (most restaurants), but the effectiveness of that has always been lost on me. Possibly an expression of independent Balkan macho culture, I’m not sure, but it a bit of pain anyway.

Macedonians really like to talk about food, maybe even more than Hungarians. You’ve barely finished breakfast and they are asking what is for lunch. Just recovering from your after-lunch nap, what’s for dinner. Throw in the wine beer and Rakija and a good time is had by all, just keep buying bigger clothes.

In fact, Macedonians seem to have a problem with the concept that you might be full, this is especially true of old ladies. You get a lot of Kebabs hamburger types of things not that dissimilar to Serbia but also they have excellent salads. Perhaps there are still a lot of small-scale producers which might account for the good quality, I’m not sure.

Macedonians like to eat Burek for breakfast, a sort of pastry stuffed with various fillings, good with yogurt or kefir. It is well worth trying.

You don’t often see Macedonian wine outside of Macedonia but that isn’t because they don’t produce any that is worthy of being exported. This is true of a lot of the less trendy (for the wine snob) countries. Macedonian wine is really good. Wine is often two or three pounds a liter. Might be the reason Alexander liked a good rampage.

Macedonians also, in common with much of the Balkans love Rakija. Not only do they drink it, and make you drink it, they use it as a cure-all, against insect bites, as an antiseptic even to clean things. I don’t doubt that people die with very clean livers, it’s just a question of when.

The beer is not bad either, they sort of tilt the glass with the bottle when pouring it. For Americans, a question I frequently get asked is, is the water safe to drink. The answer is yes, straight from the tap. You’re not in Flint Michigan now.
(by Alan Durant, 2021)

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"Overall, Macedonia is cheap. The main course and a beer in a restaurant came to about USD 5, including tip. The food is delicious and plentiful. Their two most famous dishes are Pljeskavica and Tavče gravče. The former is meat-filled, but there is also a cheese-filled version. Both are served as a kind of sandwich with lots of salad, or simply with fries, tomatoes, and onions. Tavče gravče is baked beans in an earthenware bowl. The name means little bowl, little bean. :) With this, they can deservedly apply for the title of the cutest dish name. : P You can eat it on its own, with bread, or ask for a few kebabs, which is the local equivalent of grilled meatballs. I ate more of this sort of thing than you could possibly imagine. I don’t think I ever consumed less than 300 grams of meat a day. The Macedonian show kitchen is a special experience. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what was going on (behind the scenes), but the end result spoke for itself.” (2016)

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"If you like meat, you won't go hungry in Macedonia! They offer very delicious, uniquely seasoned burgers and meatballs, and also sell Serbian Ćevapčići, which are basically kebabs, and the sausages and grilled meats are also excellent. Vegans can enjoy roasted tomato and beans, which is also very tasty. Our little girl's favorite was the shopska salad, which is offered here with salted grated sheep cheese, and made from fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. The local bread is something between a Turkish pita and a Hungarian lángos (deep-fried flatbread) and is very delicious. You can eat out in any part of Skopje, as the prices are very low compared to restaurants in most of the rest of Europe.” (2018)

North Macedonia - soup - h.k. photo

North Macedonia - salty pastry and feta cheese

Shopping

,, Costs:  In general the Balkans are cheap. Obviously, it varies depending on whether you’re in a touristy area or not and what your taste is. Mostly Macedonia does not disappoint in this respect. You definitely get value for money. Even in the resort town of Ohrid, while more expensive than most parts of the country it was still very reasonable compared to anywhere in Western or Central Europe. Especially places like Venice where you need a second mortgage to buy a beer. I think I only once spent over 10€ for dinner while there. Coffee usually runs at about half a Euro or a little over. A double room at a decent panzio (guest house) will set you back 40 t0 50 Euros. (by Alan Durant, 2021)

Fun

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North Macedonia - Skopje - remained unchosen? (left in the basket?)

Public safety

The number of crimes against tourists visiting the country is relatively low.

Pickpockets like crowded places, therefore, active in the capital's old town (Čaršija) and the adjacent market (Bitpazar).

When using ATMs, pay close attention to suspicious signals that may visible in the nearby environment.

There are acts of violence, fistfights, and sometimes stabbings among local youngsters in the capital and larger cities - especially at night, in public places, around nightclubs.

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,, Generally speaking, Macedonians are honorable and decent people and forego violence unless there is some motive of politics or honor. Thus, foreign tourists (so long as they are not from a neighboring country) rarely get into trouble, except occasionally by accident or mistake.

In Skopje, the riskiest area from a public security point of view is the part mostly inhabited by Albanians, at the Bit Pazar market in the so-called Čaršija district. This area is crowded at almost all times of the day, providing good terrain for pickpockets. Crimes against property (pickpocketing, car theft) do occur, so pay attention to your valuables and documents. It is recommended that you keep either your passport or ID card with you at all times.

Tourists are also robbed, especially in larger cities, especially in crowded places (bazaars, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, etc.), so it is advisable to keep your travel documents in a separate place and make photocopies of your personal documents as well.

In the presence and proximity of gypsies, great care must be taken to preserve your values, as the gypsies there can often be relied on to try to improve their modest living conditions by acquiring the property of others.

In Skopje and the larger cities of Macedonia, it is relatively common to meet police patrols, who often speak some foreign languages, and are willing to help guide tourists in resolving any problems. In rural areas, public safety is basically good, but sensible precautions are always advisable in all circumstances. In the event of a crime, the Macedonian Police dispatch service, which is also available in English, can be reached on the emergency number 192. According to local rules, it is recommended to file a police report in case of a crime, which is especially important for consular and insurance administration.

Care must be taken regarding the Macedonian practice of rounding up prices in restaurants and shops to the detriment of the guest/customer. Often change is simply not returned. These are not large sums, but the foreign tourist is not happy to be deceived, even in such a trifling way."



North Macedonia - safety

Background

North Macedonia - national flag - k.r. photo

Destination in brief

North Macedonia (earlier Macedonia) is a landlocked Balkan country in southeast Europe. Neighbors: Albania (west), Greece (south), Bulgaria (east), Kosovo and Serbia (north).

Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia and gained independence in 1991.

Size: 25,713 km² (9,927 mi²)

Capital city: Skopje

Population (in 2020): 2.1 million- but even the State Statistical Office’s own director. think that no more than 1.5 million  (hundreds of thousands have emigrated — but are not registered as having done so)

The largest minority is the Albanian, about 20% of the population. Ethnic Macedonians and their political forces mainly consider that their Albanian minority is a sort of ,,pain in the ass" for the country's national unity.  

Language: Macedonian - Bulgarian is the closest language- some even think that Macedonian is simply a Bulgarian dialect

Religion: 65% Macedonian Orthodox, 34% Muslim

Form of government: parliamentary democracy , multi-party system

Macedonia is not member of the European Union, a new member of NATO

Currency: Macedonian Denar (MKD)

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 390 USD ------- (490 USD in Serbia, 630 USD in Bulgaria, 830 USD in Greece)

Most common surname: Stojanovski

,, Apparently, everyone has a nickname, that doesn’t even sound like their real name. But then again, most Macedonians are not very creative with names. The most common names here are Aleksandar and Ana. So yes, there has to be a nickname in order not to call the wrong Aleksandar and risking offending the Greeks perhaps.(by Alan Durant, 2021)


Geography

,, The Macedonian landscape is a paradise for lovers of undisturbed nature. The two most beautiful parts are Matka Canyon and Lake Dojran, where we gained a glimpse into the traditions of local fishermen. It only takes half an hour from Skopje to get to one of the most beautiful points in the country: Matka Canyon. This is a popular hiking destination among locals, with rich fauna and flora.

Matka Canyon is home to many species of animals and plants, some of which are globally unique to this location. That’s what Matka is: a womb where life is created. Matka Canyon radiates a mystical atmosphere, you can feel the positive cosmic energies. People relax when they visit.

The sight of the Treska River meandering through the ravine is stunning, but the canyon also holds hidden treasures, including the famous Vrelo Cave. The slow changes of millions of years have created this geological wonder, with huge stalactites awaiting the visitor inside. But the real attraction is underwater. Experts say it could be the deepest underwater cave in the world.” (2017)

Climate


North Macedonia's climate is continental, cold, humid, rainy winters and dry, warm summers. The mountains are colder and wetter.

History

Today's North Macedonia has nothing to do with the empire marked by Alexander the Great; at most, the territory of the present country was also part of this ancient empire.

North Macedonia was the only republic that became independent (1991) without bloodshed after the late Yugoslavia's break-up.

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,, When I first went to Macedonia it wasn’t Macedonia, well it was but it was one of the constituent parts of the late, and by many people lamented, Yugoslavia. In those days it felt, and to some extent feels, like the beginning of the wild east. Macedonia is hilly with lakes and some very cool places as well as having, at least for me, a bit of that old Ottoman empire vibe.

Unfortunately for Macedonia or perhaps more so for me, it’s one of those places I tend to drive through, usually on my way to Greece. In retrospect, this was a mistake. When first traveling through I was intrigued by the sight of mosques, something we didn’t have in the UK at the time. Maybe the first one I saw I stopped off and had a look a very friendly caretaker showed me around and I have to say it was beautiful. Ever since for me, mosques have always seemed places of tranquillity which hopefully they usually are.

An oddity that caught my eye while driving through the country was the black-bordered pictures on telegraph posts lamp posts and so on commemorating people. It turns out that these were people killed in World War 2, still remembered. This was in 1975 so you could say that Macedonians don’t forget easily and they’ve had a turbulent history so plenty to remember.

Another thing that stood out was the hospitality. When we pulled up outside a cafe, the owners and customers came out and gave us bread, melon, honey, and cheese, just because we were visitors. I suppose then visitors were much rarer and perhaps tourism and tourist might have taken the edge off some of these king impulses but hopefully, they live on. Pass my house and there is a good chance you’ll be dragged in for a cup of tea at least. Kind people are not as you might think.

Bit of History:  Perhaps we should start with the elephant in the room, the countries name. My Greek friends from Thessaloniki get very worked up if I say Macedonia. For them, it’s FYROM, not the easiest thing to pronounce. It stands for The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

King Phillip (382–336 BC) ruled the Kingdom of Macedonia which covered what I will risk calling both bits and went on to rule much of Greece. Of course, his son Alexander did go on to do even better. Anyway, today’s independent state of Macedonia is now called Northern Macedonia, although few seem happy with the name, and there is the province of Macedonia in Greece.

You are definitely better staying away from this topic. In Macedonia say Macedonia in Greece say nothing. When Macedonia got independence from the former Yugoslavia the flag was different from the current one. Both had the same colors, and both had or have a yellow sun on a red background. The first flag used the sun symbol that was discovered on ancient tombstones in the town of Vergina, in the Greek part of Macedonia. This resulted in a row with Greece, ending in a trade embargo. Macedonia was forced to change its flag, and it’s been using its current one since 1995. Quite a nice flag though. You’d think with all the problems in the world arguing about what your flag looks like would come pretty low on the list. (by Alan Durant, 2021)

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“Almost all the countries of Eastern Europe are struggling with identity problems and a minority complex, but Macedonia is the type of psychiatric case that gets surrounded by medical students at visits, and about which the chief physician of the mental hospital writes the paper that gets him tenure.
But let’s not ridicule Macedonia and its inhabitants (who, as you will see, are not simply “the Macedonians”). It would be hard for anyone to have their existence denied by their neighbors, almost even as people, denying not only their past but, in fact, their current existence as a nation. And it may even be that the neighbors are right. Which is beautifully illustrated by the three national heroes of Macedonia.

First, Alexander the Great, who was born 2,400 years ago in what is now Greece, but what was then the Kingdom of Macedonia. Culturally, religiously and politically, it had nothing whatsoever to do with what we call Macedonian today, so to associate him with today's Macedonia is like calling Attila the Hun a Hungarian hero.
Then there was Samuel the Great, whom the rest of the world outside Macedonia uniformly refers to as a Bulgarian Tsar. Samuel ruled Greater Bulgaria in the 11th century until the Byzantine emperor Basil II – known as ‘the Bulgar slayer – destroyed his empire.
Third is Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, who was indeed born in Skopje, had a beautiful career in distant Calcutta as an Albanian Catholic, and later became known as Mother Teresa.

The questions of how different the Bulgarians and Macedonians are, and how separate their languages are, are such delicate subjects, even by the standards of the Balkans, that Carla Del Ponte herself would not dare to touch the matter. What is quite certain, however, is that today’s Macedonia was only born in 1946, by the grace of Tito, even if only as part of the former Yugoslavia. It only became an independent state in 1991, quite surprising as a result of a completely peaceful referendum. It says a lot about the value of poor independent Macedonia that Slobodan Milosevic, who had a hard time letting go of anything that could plausibly be called Serbian, merely grumbled a little at the loss of Macedonia.

Another thing: the ethnic composition of the population is such a delicate subject that it was not possible to hold a census in Macedonia in 2011. In 2002, 65% of the country’s two million inhabitants were listed as Macedonians, but all independent experts agree that this was no longer true at the time, with far more Albanians and Gypsies living in Macedonia than the officially tallied figures of 25% and 2.7%, respectively. It is quite realistic to imagine that half of Macedonia’s population may no longer be Macedonian (ethnically-linguistically-religiously-culturally) today, while the political and economic elite that dominates the country from Skopje is virtually universally Macedonian. (2016)



Nowadays

,, In 2006, Macedonia became the first country in the whole world to have full access to a wireless broadband connection. The project was named “Macedonia Connects” and was sponsored by the US Agency for International Development.” (WIKI) I’m not one to spread conspiracy theories but allegedly there is a village in Macedonia that specializes in computer spam hacking and so on, CIA I hear you ask? I couldn’t comment.

Another oddity about Macedonia is the amount of rubbish lying about often beside the roads. I’m not sure why, perhaps the country is still trying to find its feet economically and maybe there is a feeling of disillusionment in the population? We and they can always hope for improvement/ Macedonians will always ask how much something costs. Do you have a new watch? Oh, how much was it? New car? How much was it? It seems to be a very important question there. (by Alan Durant, 2021)

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In Macedonia, the dominant religion is Orthodox Christianity, followed by Islam. Macedonians are not very religious. They talk more about religion than they practice it. There is not enough mutual respect between people of different religions, and you will find that interfaith relation is full of mistrust and suspicion rather than understanding.

Ethnicity is a crucial factor in North Macedonia. The country has two main ethnic groups: 65% Macedonian and 22% Albanian. Relations between the two main groups are not very good; misunderstandings are common, and sometimes severe conflicts occur.

People


,, Foreigners often opine that Macedonians are lazy. However, this simplistic view is erroneous, as it is based on one of their characteristic features only: Macedonians are at odds with the time factor. It is usual for them to be late and not focus much on the importance of the time frame at work either. They are delayed for at least half an hour for business meetings and then waste at least an hour chattering. Thus, the actual work starts with an hour and a half delay compared to the agreed start time.


,, Macedonians steal a lot from Greek history. The Greeks, therefore, despise them. According to the Greeks, Macedonia ethnically is merely a Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian hodgepodge. A smaller proportion of Macedonians do have Greek roots, but the vast majority have more to do with Bulgarians by origin. (r.t., 2019)

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,, You might think with it being a new country and the contention about the name the flag and so on the people could be nationalistic and unfriendly, but not a bit of it. Most Balkan countries, I include Hungary in this though Hungarians would object to being lumped in with the Balkans, I’ve found are pretty friendly. They have a good sense of humor and open to dealing with lost and bewildered foreigners. Even with the language barrier, I found the average Macedonian easy to get along with which is always nice. A little note if a local invites you to their home, which is quite possible, it’s good form to take something, sweets, cakes or nibbles. It’s a way of saying thank you when you’re in a strange place.

Language: I must get used to saying Northern, Macedonia, despite any expectations you won't find a lot of ancient Greek, or any Greek spoken. Macedonian is a Slavic language so if you speak a bit of Russian you might get along. They use the Cyrillic alphabet like the Serbs and Russians amongst others. Although I should be more used to it I do find Cyrillic confusing. As I said a bit of Russian will help but as nearly everywhere you’ll find someone who can speak English or maybe for a treat German. Beer is Пиво pronounced Pivo and hotel is Xote. I’m not sure what Macedonia is for hello hot stuff or would you mind stopping hitting me, but just wing it. (by Alan Durant, 2021)


Tourist etiquette

1. Photographing or filming military or police objects and persons is prohibited.

2. It is essential to maintain eye contact. Otherwise, it could be seen as disrespecting the person you're talking to.

Gastronomy

"A mouth-watering mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences - Macedonian cuisine mixes many different cultures. Tavče gravče – a bean dish fried in a pot - selko mjeszo, a peppery meat dish resembling a pork stew - and sarma, i.e. stuffed cabbage, are Macedonian specialties that can be found in any Skopje restaurant. Macedonian cuisine is generally easy to prepare. Not only is it tasty and fragrant, but it is also very colorful. Macedonian cuisine is about more than food, it’s a lifestyle!

Macedonian cuisine is different from neighboring countries. They serve more salads, more raw, and fried vegetables, and place more emphasis on making the food healthy. Locals flock to the so-called green bazaars, the seasonal markets selling domestic food which can be found in all major cities. Nutrient-rich, rocky soils and plenty of sunlight provide ideal conditions for growing fruit and vegetables. This provides the basis for gastronomy which combines different influences. Macedonian cuisine is a mixture of different food cultures, with many foreigners coming here leaving their mark on it. In the same way, locals who traveled abroad brought home the eating habits they encountered in other countries.

Attractions

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe.

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‘Macedonia, including Lake Ohrid, is recommended for those who want to go on a cheap flying holiday in the high summer season and end up by a very nice lake instead of the sea.

• You can easily get between Skopje and Ohrid by hire car; the distance is 200 km, about 3 hours, partly on the highway, where sometimes a toll of 30-40 denar has to be paid (1 MKD is about 2 US cents).
• If the plane arrives in the evening, the first night can be in Skopje, where the price of a 3* hotel is €40 and a 4* hotel is €50-60.
• Lake Ohrid really is beautiful
• Anyone looking for a sandy beach is in the wrong place. There are no good beaches in the town, but by car it’s a short trip to a place where you can swim in the lake.
• There are sights: church, castle, church, church, etc.
• In Ohrid, four-star (= strong three-star) bed and breakfasts and hotels can be booked even in high season for €40-50
• Main course in a good restaurant: 180 MKD or €3
• Renting a comfortable speedboat for 12 people with a captain for half an hour: €10 / speedboat. A multi-hour trip on the lake to some famous church: €10 / person.
• (Basic) English is spoken in shops and restaurants
• There are two types of accommodation in Ohrid: old town guesthouses and modern 3–4-star hotels. The first category has the advantage of a cozy neighborhood and walking distance to downtown, the disadvantage is that parking and even driving to the door are practically impossible. Modern hotels are close to the lake, but only a few have their own beach.
• The best beach on the lake is Sv Naum, at the Albanian border. A grassy, tidy beach. Similar to Lake Balaton in Hungary.
• A boarding pass printed at home is not accepted at the airport in Ohrid – you have to check-in in person. That may be true in Skopje too, so it’s worth getting there early.” (2018)

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"In Ohrid, it's a good idea to dine on trout at one of the fish restaurants overlooking the lake. Of course, you can also choose something else, such as dolma (grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice), selsko meso (a stew cooked in a clay pot with sheep cheese on top), or the popular tavče gravče, the not-so-stomach-friendly Macedonian specialty that is a kind of bean-sausage-knuckle stew.

But in Ohrid, you can not only relax, eat well and tour the local churches but also let your hair down in the evenings. The number of great bars and nightclubs is beyond reckoning. On summer evenings, the crowd surges from one place to another, mostly young people, but all ages are represented. It was a refreshing surprise how many places have live music. Countless bands have created a real cavalcade of styles, from Macedonian folk to Yugoslav rock music of the eighties to British-influenced Slavic indie pop.

It is hard to imagine a more perfect holiday destination than Ohrid. The weather is the Mediterranean, the lake is wonderful, the mountains are picturesque, the city is beautiful and exciting, the prices are friendly, the locals are friendly, the food is delicious, the nights are hectic and there are no English or Russian tourists. I can only tell everyone to give Ohrid (and of course the rest of Macedonia) a chance when planning your vacation. (2015)







Lake Ohrid - Monastery St. Naum - k.h. photo

Lake Ohrid - f.s. photo

Lake Ohrid - e.k. photo

Lake Ohrid with monastery - i.n. photo

Lake Ohrid - s.v. photo

Kruševo

Population (in 2020): 5,200

Krusevo - Ata photo

Krusevo - Ata photo

North Macedonia -Krusevo - Makedonium Monument - inside the tomb of Nikola Karev (a national hero from the beginning of the 20th century) - Ata photo

Krusevo - Ata photo

North Macedonia - Krusevo - Ata photo

Bitola

Population (in 2020): 86,500


“After Skopje and Ohrid, Bitola showed us a new, third face of Macedonia. Skopje is a modern metropolis where a touch of Yugoslav brutalism built on a hint of Ottoman past is mixed with the nation-building megalomania of recent times, while Ohrid is clearly a historic city with a multitude of Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. In contrast, Bitola is a city with a curiously Central European atmosphere, although traces of the Ottoman past can, of course, be found here as well.

We started our exploration of Bitola at the train station, because it was here, next to the bus stop, that the bus from Ohrid dropped us off. Beautifully renovated with EU money, the imposing yellow station building was constructed in Ottoman times and is a fine example of the Ottoman railway architecture of the time. Unfortunately, the building is so well looked after that it is practically impossible to enter, and in fact is not really used: tickets for the Skopje train can be bought in the small, crumbling building next door.

There is a large park between the train station and the edge of the city center. Under the shady trees, the scorching heat of the south – which was at its suffocating worst on the way back – was slightly more bearable. The park is nothing special, but anyone transferring from the bus to the train, or vice versa, and who has to wait a bit, may want to spend their time here in the park than at the not-so-nice bus station or the nice-but-closed train station.

A few meters from the northwestern tip of the park begins Sirok Sokak, the most beautiful pedestrian street in Bitola. Towards the right-hand side at the beginning of the street, a small castle attracts the attention of pedestrians. Unfortunately, it is in a slightly dilapidated condition, but that just shows how beautiful it could be.” (2018)


North Macedonia - Bitola - p.t. photo

Bitola - t.e. photo

Matka Canyon



“The favorite day-trip destination for the inhabitants of Skopje is the Matka Canyon, which is about 10 km from the city and is essentially an artificial lake which was created by damming the river Treska. From the central bus stop, take bus number 60 to the canyon. We first inquired at the bus station information desk, but as it turned out, buses depart from the other side of the train station under the overpass, which was not the easiest place to find. They don’t make things easy for tourists in this city, and my patience was already running pretty thin when I finally had that damn booth on the fourth arduous attempt. Public transport can be used with a plastic card, which can only be obtained at the central station.

There are many ways to explore the canyon. We went on a very spectacular walk along the canyons western side, which took about 2.5 hours there and back. The path runs 10-20 meters above the river, which gave us excellent views during our tour. The canyon is really fabulous, and this hiking trail is not too taxing, I would recommend it to anyone. On the way back, the water made fools of us in one place, as it had risen in just a few hours and completely covered the path. So I had to clamber around to avoid getting wet. The other possible trip, which we didn’t try, would have been to go on a boat trip or rent a kayak.” (2018)

North Macedonia - Matka Canyon

North Macedonia - Matka Canyon - Ata photo

North Macedonia - Matka Canyon - Ata photo

North Macedonia - Matka Canyon - boat trip - Ata photo

North Macedonia - Matka Canyon with Saint Andrea monastery - Ata photo

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North Macedonia - Tetovo - Pasha's Mosque (Šarena Džamija) - 30,000 eggs were used to paint the walls of the mosque, to be more beautiful and more durable. - Peter. D. photo

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