General impressions Ohrid
Climate perfect: mornings are not so hot that you can't be active. Afternoons around 27-30 C, but a lovely breeze from the lake and an altitude great for tanning. Evenings pleasant and nights cool enough to sleep well. No midges, so open windows are fine!!
The landscape is breathtaking, tourism mainly local, no mass tourism or hordes of badly behaved western Europeans. Local tourists, however, can behave badly in the hotels: loud drunken parties in rooms, loud parties in the hotel grounds, etc. Avoid the Macedonian school holidays, when everything is packed full and beds are sometimes rented out on the private beaches of some hotels!
Prices are absurdly low for non-Macedonians (local salaries around 150-300 euros per month).
The food in restaurants is of good quality and very cheap by our standards. Rather disappointing for those with real culinary interests though: grilled meat, salad, chips. Then the usual 'international'stuff: burgers, pizzas, etc. Very few places serve real local/traditional food and during my 2-week holiday I failed to find a single restaurant serving lamb/mutton. Local trout more expensive (very good though).
Beware: hotel food can be abominable! I stayed in one hotel (Bellevue) where the dinners reminded me of a charity soup-kitchen, and they had the gall to serve up the same muck every day without a blush! A la carte is much better, so don't take a hotel with full board, unless you know from other former guests that the food was ok. The food at hotels Millennium Palace and Inex Goreca is reliably good.
Shopping: Macedonia has nothing spectacular to offer. I bought local honey as gifts. The outdoor market offers different sorts of local honey and if you ask, they will let you taste before buying.
I suggest a week in Ohrid itself, to see all the sights, and a second week in a hotel outside Ohrid, where you can enjoy the wonderful scenery in peace, provided your hotel does not host loud parties in the evening. A visit to a mountain top at 1,800 metres, where we had lunch with the shepherds.
A very early morning visit to the top of the fortress, with a breathtaking view over the lake.
A good laugh at the airport: no smoking signs everywhere, but all customs officials and staff behind desks were smoking like chimneys!
If you bathing in Lake Ohrid on a sunny day and suddenly emerge from its depths, breaking the surface for a moment, you will see on the pale blue expanse all around you silvery, transparent bubbles, big and small. In each of them the Sun is doubly reflected, like two focuses of different sizes. Approaching one of the bigger bubbles, holding your breath for fear it may burst, you can see in it, as in a distorting mirror, the reflection of your face, wet and laughing. And all the time, that bigger sun, like a vast star, hangs over your head.
It all lasts for just an instant, like all beauty, yet it is repeated over and over again...
For a group of tourists, this man dressed in a national costume played traditional music on bagpipes. He also allowed to take a photo of him under a small tip.
The photo was taken in the fortress.
Open water swim
First held in 1924 the Ohrid open water swim is a televised competition held by the city of Ohrid and now FINA and the World Swimming Association. Many national and local swimmers compete for a cash prize and a trophy. It is very fun to watch. When I lived in Ohrid I was on the swim team, but I never got the chance to compete in this. The Competition takes place in mid-August and starts at Hotel park. To sign up go to the FINA website. To watch, just go to Ohrid and follow the swimmers around the lake.
The National Park Galicica is situated on Mount Galicica, that is a part of the mountain range of Sara-Pind. Due to its exceptional natural beauty and extremely opulent and endemic flora and fauna, in 1958 the Macedonian section of the mountain was proclaimed a National Park.
The main geological surface on the major part of Mount Galicica are Paleozoic metamorphic silicates covered with 500-550 m horizons of massive limestone that have spongy structure and are highly porous.
The massif has developed relief with large and deep valleys and a vast mountain crest that in the southern part of Galicica reaches the altitude of more than 2,000 m. Such relief, as well as the vicinity of the two Lakes enable continuous, extremely long and beautiful scenic views for visitors.
Galicica enjoys moderate Continental climate influenced by a large quantity of water from both Lakes and the hot Sub-Mediterranean influences that break through the relatively low mountain saddles in Albania.
In addition to the extraordinary natural beauty and aesthetic values, Galicica is also a unique environment with well-preserved natural flora in several ecosystems.
The flora in the National Park Galicica covers more than 800 species, among which there are numerous relict and endemic forms whose farthest limit of distribution is Mount Galicica itself. The presence of eleven local endemic forms discovered so way is quite remarkable. These forms exist only on the slopes of the Mount Galicica, and are clear evidence of the specific floral structure of the mountain. It should be underlined that there is an on-going intensive research of the flora in the Park. There are indications of an even greater number of endemic forms.
The fauna on Galicica is also prolific and diverse. There are no precise data about the number of invertebrate species. Vertebrates are present with 170 species: 10 amphibians, 18 reptiles, 124 birds, and 18 mammals.