A storm in Struga

Struga Travel Blog

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Why buy the whole car when you can just buy the chassis? : )
Struga is another town on the lakeshore with the same beach community feel as Ohrid - a boardwalk and beaches, pedestrian streets with shops and souvenirs, old churches and historical buildings. It seemed to be more of a destination for locals, whereas Ohrid was more popular with the crowd from Belgrade and Skopje. It's about half and hour southwest of Ohrid.

We ended up there because it's also where the larger bus station is, with more international buses. There only seemed to be buses to Skopje, Turkey, and Greece from Ohrid.

We messed around in Kraimorie, taking one last trip to the beach, attempting to formulate plots to stay another week and still make it back to Zagreb 5 days from now, when it was 5 days away... By the time we negotiated a ride there, we managed to miss the only bus of the day.
Downtown Struga, it's about 20 minutes walk from the bus station
Oh darn, we'd have to stay and swim until the late night bus came...

We headed down to the lake, but as we took our pre-swim nap, ominous black clouds started rolling over the mountains to the south from Albania. As thunder rolled, people kept swimming, so we kept napping. Within half an hour big waves started hitting the beach and a wall of rain was bearing down on us. Beach umbrellas started folding up and boats were deployed to haul in all the rented paddle boats and rafts that were still paddling along the shore... We bee-lined to a building that looked like it might have a cafe, and ducked into the place just as the first huge drops started splashing onto the street.

Soon the rain was roaring down and we were sipping tiny Turkish coffees.
Another side of Ohrid Lake. Struga was a little more "natural" with reeds and sand instead of seawalls and harbors
I helped the poor waiter drag chairs under the awning as the rain became torrential. The patio soon began to fill with water, overwhelmed by the volume coming from the rain gutters. We lifted our feet and ordered a second round of coffees. It was actually a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, watching the raging storm pass from the shelter of the deserted patio.

In the evening, when the storm began to clear, we ventured out onto the clean, wet streets. After I traded Zvonka a quick stop to explore a Muslim cemetery for some window shopping in town. The graves were plain and undecorated, it's traditional not to maintain the graves after the funeral, a contrast from the maticulously maintained and decorated graves of the Christian cemeteries we'd visited.
The outlet to the Ohrid Sea... this wooden stucture


Downtown Struga is divided by a river flowing out of the lake. The enormous lake drains through a wide, wooden structure under a bridge, and flows through a stone lined canal through downtown. The canal is lined with walking paths, cafes and shops, and crossed by a lot of nice little bridges. A really nice place to walk around. With several more hours to kill, we looked for a cafe to eat at, having now become soft after sipping expensive coffee all afternoon (well, relative to our usual rations, it was like 2 dollars for 4 cups : ) ). We finally settled on a little place that sold "Macedonian style pizza, mushrooms, and bread" (see review).

We had been lucky. For some reason, everyone in the eastern European transportation industry speaks only their native language, and has a bad attitude, while the rest of their countrymen speak several languages and are friendly and helpful.
Bridge of the Ohrid Drain
We had managed to find the only nice worker in the industry, a watchman who'd taken pity on us and let us keep our giant backpacks in his locker. We had to get back before 10pm so that we could retrieve them before the next guard came and he'd be in trouble for having them there. We made it, and he snuck us into a covered cafe area to wait out of the rain that had started again. We sat in the darkness and waited, hoping that we could run fast enough to catch stop the bus as it passed on the main road on it's way south.

A woman with a backpack wandered by after a while and looked at the closed ticketing room. The watchman let her know that she could maybe "pay the driver directly..." without a ticket if the bus wasn't full, and let her into our dark shelter.
Kid would jump off the first bridge, get ride over the 15-foot waterfall at the drop, get sucked under, and reappear in these rapids. Well, most of them seemed to reappear and there were plenty more kids...
She had been hitchhiking across eastern Europe by herself from the Netherlands, but hadn't had luck finding a ride to Albania. We exchanged travel stories, mostly revolving around how her pack only weight 8 kilos or something and ours weighed almost 25 each... We had to pull out masks and snorkels, make-up bags filled with every imaginable cream and lotion, 4 digital cameras with chargers and spare batteries... each with drew a gasp, a look of disbelief, and disgusted clucking that's we'd bring such extravegant things. She had "2 changes of clothes, a washcloth-sized towl, a water bottle, and assorted titanium-alloy ultralight this and that, in a tiny pack.

Finally, around midnight, watchman waved packed us into his tiny guardshack to wait, and we hustled to jump on the bus as it roared into town. Fortunately there were seats (not always the case, even with "reservations" and a ticket), and even Dutch woman was able to get on. Off we headed into the night into what we'd been waiting for all this time - Albania!
cmgervais says:
The hotel workers we have run into in Croatia speak FOUR languages - Croatian, English, German, and Italian. Signs are also printed in those four languages - it's fantastic, so impressive.

8kg - also impressive! With my two bags, I am over 25 kg! It's the computer. And the camera equipment. Can't leave it behind or I couldn't use TB!

Nice blog, thanks.
Posted on: Aug 16, 2008
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Why buy the whole car when you can…
Why buy the whole car when you ca…
Downtown Struga, its about 20 min…
Downtown Struga, it's about 20 mi…
Another side of Ohrid Lake.  Strug…
Another side of Ohrid Lake. Stru…
The outlet to the Ohrid Sea... thi…
The outlet to the Ohrid Sea... th…
Bridge of the Ohrid Drain
Bridge of the Ohrid Drain
Kid would jump off the first bridg…
Kid would jump off the first brid…
Boats moored behind a sandbar
Boats moored behind a sandbar
A swan with her -now really big- b…
A swan with her -now really big- …
Crowds from the surrounding countr…
Crowds from the surrounding count…
not eating or swimming, so we must…
not eating or swimming, so we mus…
...the water started getting rough…
...the water started getting roug…
A huge storm biggest weve ever s…
A huge storm "biggest we've ever …
Getting ready to shelter at the I…
Getting ready to shelter at the "…
Angry black clouds spill over from…
Angry black clouds spill over fro…
Down it comes, thunder shakes the …
Down it comes, thunder shakes the…
We lift our feet as the water rise…
We lift our feet as the water ris…
Cold, but pretty dry under the awn…
Cold, but pretty dry under the aw…
Still raining, late in the afterno…
Still raining, late in the aftern…
A soggy walk through a Muslim grav…
A soggy walk through a Muslim gra…
Leaving flowers and visiting are d…
Leaving flowers and visiting are …
Generations of Muslim Macedonians …
Generations of Muslim Macedonians…
Much different than the constantly…
Much different than the constantl…
Downtown Struga with a pedestrian …
Downtown Struga with a pedestrian…
Eastern style arched wooden bridge
Eastern style arched wooden bridge
Steep wooden pitch of the bridge
Steep wooden pitch of the bridge
The river runs through the city, c…
The river runs through the city, …
We duck into a warm restaurant for…
We duck into a warm restaurant fo…
Oh yeah, forgot to put the beer in…
Oh yeah, forgot to put the beer i…
Specialties are sauteed mushrooms …
Specialties are sauteed mushrooms…
Struga at night
Struga at night
Ever present Balkan graffiti
Ever present Balkan graffiti
Running to the bus station, of cou…
Running to the bus station, of co…
Our good friend the watchman who s…
Our good friend the watchman who …
Waiting for the midnight bus in a …
Waiting for the midnight bus in a…
Hitchhiking Dutch woman sheltering…
Hitchhiking Dutch woman shelterin…
Struga Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Finally, Macedonian Style Food!
A cozy little restaurant by the river in an old brick room. Outside tables on the riverfront. The staff is nice and does everything they can to give… read entire review
Struga
photo by: delsol67