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FYROM (The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia - Macedonia to us non Greeks)

Ohrid, Macedonia

Arriving in Bitola felt like arriving in Eastern Europe should, forlorn stray dogs scratching through rubbish under grey skies, the scenery dominated by square communist era housing blocks. It also meant adjusting to a new currency, something that my mind is so tired of doing i cant even remember what the Macedonian currency is called, they speak Makedonski though which is pretty cool because everyone sounds like theyre straight out of an old James Bond Movie. So we caught the bus to Ohrid, a little lake side holiday village, but i cant remember the trip because i slept the whole way. It's supposed to be really scenic, but the previous nights sleep was somewhat lacking, so i used the three hours to catch up.

We stayed up on the hill with a couchsurfer called Al Yates, a peace corps volunteer, in a house kindly provided by George W (thanks man).

Al's pretty knowledgeable on the history of the area, which was kind of lost on the two of us, yet we were impressed by the various churches, amphitheatre and city wall. Apparently the city is very old and was at one point the central hub of the entire area. We wiled away the three days seeing the sights, cruising the market, just general chilling, but mostly enjoying the cheap, big, delicious 2l Macedonian beers, Skopsko and Topcko. Now i know this doesnt do Ohrid justice, but time has eroded my memory a bit so i'll just say that its a beautiful, interesting place and i would like one day to get a house there. But after two nights we were ready to head onwards, so i scrawled a sign entitled Skopje in the back of my note pad (this time i used cyrillic script to endear us to the locals) and we walked to the city outskirts.

Our first ride was with two guys about our age who for some reason were on their way to the middle of nowhere, about half an hour drive from Ohrid, where they dropped us off and we waited for ages, listening to music and learning to juggle.

After a long time and about a hundred cars passing us, we decided to be proactive and start walking. The weather was beginning to look ominous and we reasoned that if it started to rain, it would be better to be stuck in a place with some sort of shelter than out in the sticks. We had been walking for about half an hour when a blue Peugeot flew past us, coming to a stop about 50m ahead. We ran up and met Jelena, thanked her for stopping and jumped in. With a screech of the tyres we were off and Jelena turned to us a crazed look in her eyes and said (in James Bond Russian spy accent) "Last night i go out and drink many cocktail sex on the beach, this morning i wake up... i am drunk". I dont think she was joking. Some police at a roadblock tried to pull her over doing 170 but she just laughed and said they would get her at the next one... they didnt. We arrived in Skopje in record time and Jelena kindly invited us to lunch which we gladly accepted and followed her up to her 8th floor apartment. Damn were we in for a treat. Though it looked kind of shabby from the outide, the apartment where she lives with her mother and daughter was amazing inside, with a big tv and sumptuous leather couches where we lounged all day drinking beer while the housekeeper/cook whipped up some traditional Macedonian delicacies. It was like a dream, our standard of living had just gone through the roof.

At lunch time, Jelena by this stage severely hungover, her cousin and uncle arrived and we were (force) fed a menu including chicken shnitzels, deep fried cheese and vegetable crouquetes and lobster!! We could hardly resist as Jelena and her cousin Jelena took turns refilling our plates, more and more and more. Just look how happy Pd is

They then helped us find out the train and bus times, and we waited around there until evening when we walked to the train station and boarded the overnight bound for Belgrade, Serbia, from where i now write this.

permalink written by  BalkanAdventure on May 29, 2007 from Ohrid, Macedonia
from the travel blog: The Fantastic Far Flung Eastern European Adventure
tagged MacedoniaSkopjeJelena

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