Swimming in Lake Ohrid...

Ohrid Travel Blog

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Makedonija!

As tired as we were, we only had two nights at most in Ohrid if we were going to make it back to Croatia in time, so we skipped a tempting nap and headed out to the lake to look for a place to swim. We got moved into our room, but turns out that the house was about a 25-minute walk to the lake through town. Not bad, but in the next couple days, we ended up making that walk a lot of times!

The room had no windows, but was cool though, sort of interior room, probably of a child who had grown and moved out.  Empty other than a little bed and a table.  Chickens were shooed out of the way, the floor was dusted off, and we had a place to stay for a few Euros.  The interesting part was that you had to walk through another room to get to it, with maybe 15 teenagers from Skopje sleeping in it.

Macedonian sun flag and a reminder that Ohrid City is a UNESCO world heritage site
 I mean, always sleeping on couches, on the floor, in chairs... any time of day or night, they never left!  The two rooms were separated by a curtain.   In the morning it would take some careful stepping to weave through them all on the way out...  Sneaking in a long awaited shower in the morning was interesting too, since we shared the one bathroom with the 15 of them : )  They had practice tag teaming the bathroom (I'm afraid the yard got an extra "watering" before I could make it in...

Ohrid town is a nice little place, and is well equipped for tourists. There are grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and apartments for rent everywhere along the lakefront, and street vendors selling whatever kind of ice cream or t-shirt or keychain you could need.
Our taxi drivers become hotel brokers finding us someone to rent a room in their house. Our poor driver in the stripes is cross-eyed so has no depth perception. Made passing on blind curves interesting!
There's a wide pedestrian street with shopping and cafes, and an old town topped by a fort an castle on the steep hill overlooking the lake. The tourists seemed to be mostly Macedonians and well-heeled Serbians. I think buses come down from Belgrade with people escaping the summer heat.

Water taxies plied the shore, and people were by the water, sunning on any hard, flat surface - seawalls, docks, rocks. (like Croatians they appear to hate sand)  There are just a couple beaches in town and they're packed or private. We headed up the hill through maze of streets and levels of the old neighborhoods, climbing through narrow alleys and staircases between houses. Scattered through the neighborhoods of ancient houses were even more ancient churches.
Our landlady
They were of a distinctive red-brick design, and were mostly built in the 1200s. In fact, the entire town is a UNESCO world heritage site because of it's historical significance and and good condition. High on the hill there were sweeping views of the lake, which was big enough that the far shore in Albania was out of site on the horizon.

Gosh it was frustrating!  There was the lake, right there, but no access anywhere, as we grew despirate to clean off the 48 hours of travel filth from our bodies and cool off from days of cooking in the summer heat!  We scaled walls, climbed rigdges, followed dead ends... Then we saw our Serbian friends heading up the path, wet!   Where did you find access??  They explained...

An ancient, fortified, stone wall follows the top of the ridge, protecting the city from invasion.

Our hood while in Ohrid
Beyond that is a steep natural drop-off, also protecting the city, but also having the effect of protecting the lake from us swimming in it... With about a 20 minute walk over the hill and around the corner, you can follow a little path down to a small, pebbly beach and lake access. The lake water was crystal clear here, unlike the water taxi- and runoff-clouded water in town. We waded out and snorkeled over beds of aquatic plants and fish. The rocks are sharp, since there isn't the wave action of the ocean, so wading is a little painful, but worth it to enter the cold water of the lake.

Later we walked back through the woods, and explored the rest of the town. We drank our nightly bottle of least-inexpensive-local-wine back in the room, too tired to make it back to the beach one last time.
...outdoor laundry sink and chicken coop on the other


We had run into the Serbian Guys on the way to the beach and they'd pointed out Marshal Tito's lake palace out across the lake on a peninsula, so in the morning we headed out to find it. It turned out to be about a 7 kilometer walk over there, so we hiked along the lake shore all morning. We passed several resorts and beach bars, muddy shores, and beaches with gravel laid on top to create the popular Balkan "shingle beach" that they like. We came across the Macedonian Navy in a dredged out creek channel - consisting of one tiny gunboat and an inflatable Zodiac. Just in case.

Again we were trying to find a less crowded beach - everything was choked with people and umbrellas, it's an incredibly popular area it seems. We finally reached Tito's palace as our poor feet, blistered from two weeks of walking, were ready to give out.
Fuzzy pink yard-couch in one corner of the yard...
I was litterally leaving drops of blood from my poor cracked heels!  And it was closed. It appears that the current president still uses it, so you can't get close enough to see it when he's there.  An he was there. Oh well...

We continued on in search of our beach, and finally found it. Well, sort of. We climbed down a tall cliff to the lake edge, then waded in waist-deep water to a shallow cave in the cliff with a dry spot to put the packs and our clothes while we swam.

We'd found the only spot on this end of the lake not infested with people!

Getting ready, I whacked my head on the cave roof so hard that I knocked a poor bat out of his crevice and he started crawling around the beach, sort of stunned to suddenly be out in the daylight. That didn't go over too well with Z. We tried swimming out far enough to see the palace from the lake, it was right there... but no luck. They'd done a pretty good job with the privacy thing.

We enjoyed the lake and town the rest of the day, and in the morning reluctantly headed off to start our long journey to Albania.

cmgervais says:
Hope you recovered well from your concussion? Probably faring better than that bat...
Posted on: Aug 17, 2008
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Makedonija!
Makedonija!
Macedonian sun flag and a reminder…
Macedonian sun flag and a reminde…
Our taxi drivers become hotel brok…
Our taxi drivers become hotel bro…
Our landlady
Our landlady
Our hood while in Ohrid
Our hood while in Ohrid
...outdoor laundry sink and chicke…
...outdoor laundry sink and chick…
Fuzzy pink yard-couch in one corne…
Fuzzy pink yard-couch in one corn…
Our chicken friends, shooed out fr…
Our chicken friends, shooed out f…
Our room was in the center of the …
Our room was in the center of the…
Our neighborhood
Our neighborhood
Then we did some shopping at Fanta…
Then we did some shopping at Fant…
The local mosque and minaret
Pray…
The local mosque and minaret Pra…
So tired - no sleep for 36 hours..…
So tired - no sleep for 36 hours.…
Streets of Ohrid
Streets of Ohrid
Fancy shopping street
Fancy shopping street
Flag of Macedonia!
Flag of Macedonia!
I forget what this building was, b…
I forget what this building was, …
Veterinary Hospital
"Veterinary Hospital"
Obituaries are posted on all the t…
Obituaries are posted on all the …
This is actually in English  ...we…
This is actually in English ...w…
Plenty of watermelons, a major cro…
Plenty of watermelons, a major cr…
Marshal Tito Street - a reminder t…
Marshal Tito Street - a reminder …
St Clement of Ohrid
St Clement of Ohrid
Even smaller and oranger than the …
Even smaller and oranger than the…
Everyone had made a long, hard jou…
Everyone had made a long, hard jo…
Even this concrete dock had sunbat…
Even this concrete dock had sunba…
The old town of Ohrid
The old town of Ohrid
Ohrid pearls
Ohrid pearls
Architecture of the old town
Architecture of the old town
The old city of Ohrid is a maze of…
The old city of Ohrid is a maze o…
St. Jovan church, I think
St. Jovan church, I think
Church (still working on the name)
Church (still working on the name)
Ancient Christian churches, Macedo…
Ancient Christian churches, Maced…
Church of St. John Kaneo, built in…
Church of St. John Kaneo, built i…
Small place, we ran into our Serbi…
Small place, we ran into our Serb…
A segment of the wall surrounding …
A segment of the wall surrounding…
Overlooking the lake
Overlooking the lake
Cool, tempting, but inaccessable w…
Cool, tempting, but inaccessable …
Pretty much each structure is at a…
Pretty much each structure is at …
Water taxis, laden with tourists, …
Water taxis, laden with tourists,…
The secret lake cave (later) was a…
The secret lake cave (later) was …
Marshal Titos Macedonian lake pal…
Marshal Tito's Macedonian lake pa…
Ancient stairs scale the mountain
Ancient stairs scale the mountain
Climbing the hill above town in se…
Climbing the hill above town in s…
We didnt notice these Swastikas u…
We didn't notice these Swastikas …
Swimming in the chilly water of th…
Swimming in the chilly water of t…
Gardens on the floor of the lake
Gardens on the floor of the lake
Fish pick at mussels on the rocky …
Fish pick at mussels on the rocky…
A shortcut through the forest back…
A shortcut through the forest bac…
Sun sets over the Ohrid Sea
Sun sets over the Ohrid Sea
One of only two meals eaten out du…
One of only two meals eaten out d…
Interesting names: Bambi and Ame…
Interesting names: "Bambi" and Am…
English Sunrise spelled phonetic…
English "Sunrise" spelled phoneti…
Beloved pop star Macedonian Tose P…
Beloved pop star Macedonian Tose …
Getting ready in morning out in th…
Getting ready in morning out in t…
A relaxing breakfast in the yard o…
A relaxing breakfast in the yard …
King Burek - Burek was another sta…
King Burek - Burek was another st…
...although we of course broke out…
...although we of course broke ou…
Skopsko Macedonian beer
Skopsko Macedonian beer
A fancy hotel on the lake
...we d…
A fancy hotel on the lake ...we …
Clear waters of Ohrid
Clear waters of Ohrid
Looking back at the old city from …
Looking back at the old city from…
Politcia it says
"Politcia" it says
This seems to be the entire Macedo…
This seems to be the entire Maced…
A winding path circles the palace,…
A winding path circles the palace…
Sneaking into Titos secret compou…
Sneaking into Tito's secret compo…
Beach looks empty because everyone…
Beach looks empty because everyon…
I think that most of Macedonia and…
I think that most of Macedonia an…
Finally, a reptile!
Finally, a reptile!
We climbed down this cliff and fou…
We climbed down this cliff and fo…
Secret cave away from the crowds
Secret cave away from the crowds
The heart is really a couple clu…
The "heart" is really a couple cl…
I whacked my head on the cave roof…
I whacked my head on the cave roo…
Rock for sunning
Rock for sunning
Z kept putting on her Opinci (poin…
Z kept putting on her Opinci (poi…
A welcome outside sink and clothes…
A welcome outside sink and clothe…
Ohrid Hostels review
Staying in people's extra rooms...
This was a room in someone's house, typical of that kind of accommodation here. You probably won't find this one, but it's representative of what to … read entire review
Ohrid
photo by: delsol67