I’ll be honest, I sit here writing this in a lovely hostel in Tbilisi (blog post to some shortly), some three weeks after we visited Macedonia. This is mainly due to laziness, and partly down to the first two weeks taking it out of me some what!
We spent a total of approximately 20 hours in this wonderful and welcoming country and the first thing I can say is that I intend to spend more time here in the future. We crossed the border after an equally brief and distinctly harrowing sojourn in Albania, which I think is discussed elsewhere, and tootled down from the heights of the mountains to what the map reliabley informed us was a big lake. We took this at face value as it was pitch black and we had mildly pressing concerns regarding the oil pressure light coming on. Which I then attempted to solve by snapping the oil temp sender off… Smooth work.
We drove through a very lively beach resort on the shores of lake Ohrid called Struga. This place was hectic so we made our way out of town and Kat and Tom spied a cheeky little slipway down to the beach- owing to our unerring draw towards bodies of water we pitched the beaut up here for the night. The morning greeted us with a breathtaking view of a pristine lake set in glorious mounitains, and an equally breathtaking view of a dip stick with not even the slightly trace of oil on it. Turns out we had neglected to check the oil level for 2000 km- smooth work again.
After the obligatory swim, engine faff and swan stalking we set off to try and find the local major town, Ohrid. After a short and bumpy ride on a delightful track running parallel to the actual road we made it into this lovely place. We stopped to buy food and ended up buying stack loads of mechanical spares from a great bloke called Yani whose English was perfect, as he had spent 3 years in Afghan cooking at Camp Bastion. We explored a little, saw some amazing backstreets and fell in love a bit; the atmosphere was so laid back as to be horizontal and the people were unbelievablely freindly. On two occasions we overpaid someone, and both times they either forced the extra money back into our hands, or made up the difference in peaches or onions!
Regrettably we left Ohrid and made our way across the tiny landlocked nation toward the Greek border. The driving in Macedonia is best described as ‘Pot Holey’, and very mountainous. After a little sunflower interlude we crossed (again, painlessly) into Greece and were greeted by empty towns and Tom choking on Pancetta. Next stop the Agean!