Ohrid, Vevcani, Prelip, Skopje
20.09.2007 25 °C
After crossing the border from Albania with a trio of Canadians who i met on the bus, we decided to get a taxi and just split it four ways for the 20km journey to the town of Ohrid. However we quickly encountered our first problem, there were no taxi's and no buses due for another couple of hours. At this point some random guy pulled up in a car and offered to take us to Ohrid for 15 euros. We accepted as we were splitting 4 ways so it was only about 4 euros each but we were surprised to find the guy to tell us he will be back in one min. He then drives off, parks up about 10 yards away and opens a side door, basically hauls his wife out of the car, opens the boot takes out all his shopping and roughly tells his wife he will be back in 30mins and comes round to pick us up as if nothing has happened! Having no other option we took the lift and got down into Ohrid. I had a room booked but the three canadians didnt so we dumped all the bags in my room and went to explore the town. First off we headed up to the fortress which from far away look superb, but as u got closer u realised that all the external walls had been rebuilt sometime in the 1990's so actually it was just fake. Upon entering the castle u realised why they had rebuilt the walls, because everything else had fallen down! there was nothing in the castle except the external walls, it was terrible!! Plus there was a Macedonian bagpiper who was god-awful and just followed u around all the time. On the plus side though the recently rebuilt walls did give superb views of the town all of which i have on my phone because i forgot my camera. After that we went to see some cool little churches and a really fascinating archelogical dig then headed back to get some food. Somehow and im not sure how this happened we ended up in a Irish pub drinking the local dark beer, which was really nice. This countinued till about 1am where we left and kinda realised they all had nowhere to sleep so, in my one bed room we had 4 people...and we paid 5 euros for the whole lot! They all actually paid me a couple of euros each so for that one night i was actually paid to sleep in there! On the next day we went to Vevcani for the day which was a weird little village that declared itself independent from Yugoslavia in 1988 and designed its own passports and printed its own money etc. We went mostly to see if we could buy a passport (which in the end were just 2 expensive) but we found a beautiful little village with loads of fantastic natural springs. After spending a second night in Ohrid we then headed out to spend the night in a monestary on top of a mountain in a place called Prelip. After a good couple of miles climb we arrived and sorted everthing out with the monks, u dont have 2 pay but u r expected to make a donation etc. we went for a wander round the hills etc before coming back and kinda making conversations with the monks via signlanguage and gesturing (no rude jokes though...surprisingly!) and helping them with a view bits and pieces.
The next day the Canucks moved onto Bitola while i moved in the opposite direction to the capital city, Skopje. Now my guide book said there wasnt much in Skopje but i went with an open mind and was willing to give it a chance. After checking into the worst and most over-priced hotel of my trip so far i went for a wander and found that Skopje has a really nice little Muslim quarter and Bazzar and......well absolutely nothing else. I had paid for 2 nights so had to stay and suffered easily the most boring days of my trip so far as i did............well............nothing!! i just wandered around town and passed the time, i did find a good sandwich shop though! I did also meet a random nutter at the bus station, he was a kinda destitute guy who spoke ok english who asked me if i needed help, i said no i was ok, but then he started talking to me, he said he was in trouble with the macedonian govt because the president wanted to kill him. He also said the president has stolen his girlfriend and then offered him 20million euros to flee the country...apparently the guy refused and it was now his aim to be the next president of macedonia....high aims for a homeless guy Also i got ripped off for the first time, i paid around 10 euros for a 2 euro taxi ride......another key bit of advice, never take a taxi from the train or bus station as they will always rip u off!
Basically if u r going to Macedonia i would recommend missing out Skopje all together if possible and just going straight for Ohrid and the surrounding area as it is fantastic for scenary, hiking, biking etc.