Swimming in Lake Ohrid...
Ohrid Travel Blog› entry 14 of 24 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.