Lake Ohrid is one of Europe's oldest and deepest lakes (with a maximum depth of 288 metres) and because its inflow is predominantly from mountain springs and the Black Drin River (which is also its only outlet) it has developed a unique ecosystem.
The endemic species of flora and fauna aren't particularly exotic but rather are unique variations of common European lake dwelling species and cover the whole food chain from planktons through to predatory fish.
The Ohrid Trout (Salmo letnica) is the most significant of the endemic fish and features on many of the lakeside restaurant menus, as does, to a lesser extent, the freshwater molluscs and crustacea.
Macedonia is one of the cheapest places in Europe from which to post items internationally. A stamp for a standard postcard is (at the time of writing - October 2011) a mere 22 Denar with an airmail supplement of 6 Denar for European countries and 9 for North America.
The main post office here in Ohrid (pictured) is situated on Bulevar Makedonski Prosvetiteli which is just off the main square.
The website below is a PDF which has all the International Postal rates for all types of letter, postcard and parcels. A little point of interest is that printed literature for blind people is exempt from postal charges except for airmail supplements.
This is more of an excuse just to use this picture than an actual piece of useful information - but hey, why not?
With Ohrid's lakeside location and the mountains to the east the town has its own microclimate. This is especially noticable when sitting at one of the lakeside bars under the cliff below the old city.
When this picture was taken it had just started to rain but there wsn't a cloud visible in the sky. Being at the bottom of the cliff we obviously could only see the sky immediately above us and over the lake and so the clouds must have been out of sight behind us - which is why the barman is looking confused!
Wandering the city I noticed quite a few local craftspeople at work and of course the various pearl sellers (Ohrid pearls are in fact not true pearls as such but are formed from the scales of the Plasica fish).
A couple that caught the camera's eye were this woodcarver (on Car Samuil ??) and the hand-made paper place (on the same street). Both looked interesting but I didn't buy anything from either.
I had no idea why this guy was picking daisies here at the Ancient Theatre but I took a couple of pics anyway.
A quick Google reveals that:
"The medicinal properties of Bellis perennis have been recorded in herbals as far back as the 16th century. John Gerard, the 16th century herbalist, recommended English daisy as a catarrh (inflammation of mucous membrane) cure, as a remedy for heavy menstruation, migraine, and to promote healing of bruises and swellings."
OK so now I know. And there was certainly a profusion of daisies on the day of my visit.
Whilst most of the tourist attractions are reasonably well signposted the streets themselves (especially in the old city) tend not to be. So if looking for a specific back street you'll need a decent map and/or clear directions from somewhere easy to find.
Everything however leads pretty much from the main square down by the waterfront and the city is quite compact.
Whilst Ohrid is a generally friendly city it is particularly friendly towards the Dutch. This is due to the fact that the Corendon Dutch Airlines (CND) operate regular scheduled and charter flights direct from Schiphol to the city's airport with a journey time of about two and a half hours.
I should imagine that Ohrid makes for a great place to enjoy a break from Amsterdam for a bit of a slower pace of life and especially as a budget destination given the relative beer prices!
There are plenty of ATM's dotted strategically around the modern city (I didn't notice any in the old part) if you need local currency.
The one pictured here is pretty much at the start of the pedestrianised main street leading up from the square down by the waterfront. This is a branch of the German Sparkasse bank group which as well as counter services and the ATM is also an agent for Western Union currency transfer services.
...then you might as well learn to row!
OK This is just an excuse to use the pic but it does make sense. No point in winding your way through the streets with all us tourists getting in your way when you can do your day-to-day business by boat.
There are many LITTLE CHAPELS scattered in and around Ohrid. The one I am highlighting and picturing here, is the Chapel in the Square St. Kliment. There are many icon pictures in this chapel and it is the custom to make a small donation and place your donation in front of the icon of your choice. The average donation that I saw was 10 dinari. You can also light a candle for a small donation.
We were quite surprised about the large amount of Dutch tourists in Ohrid.
The town is served by charter flights from the Netherlands, especially Amsterdam. Even some of the attendees of the 7th VT Euromeet used the deals of the dutch tour operator "Corendon International" to get cheaply to Macedonia.
One of the reasons for the popularity of Ohrid for Dutch people was the novel "The Wedding of the seven gypsies" which plays in Ohrid. It was written in 1939 by the Dutch novelist A. den Doorland.
A monument commemorating the writer was unveiled in 2006 in a small park at the southern end of the street Kej Marshal Tito.
During our time in Macedonia I drank two different local beers.
My first Macedonian beer was a Skopsko, which is probably Macedonia's most known beer. It is a tasty pale beer with 4,9 % of alcohol. Skopsko is brewed since 1924 at the Pivara Skopje, which nowadays belongs to the Heineken Group.
The other beer which I had quite a few times was Zlaten Dab (Golden Oak). It is also a pale lager beer, which is slightly more bitter than Skopsko. It is brewed in the south Macedonian city of Prilep. The brewery was founded in 1924.
I found both beers tasty, but usually prefered to drink Skopsko.
Zlaten Dab: http://www.zlatendab.com.mk/
Macedonia is neither a member of the European Union nor do they have the Euro as currency. The official currency is the Macedonian denar (MKD). It is subdivided into 100 deni.
Banknotes come in 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 denari. Coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 denari as well as 50 deni.
Accommodation prices are often quoted in Euro and it is quite usual to pay them in Euro. Macedonians are quite used to the Euro as many of them work in countries of the Euro zone.
The reverse side of the 50 Macedonian denar note shows a picture of Saint Archangel Gavril, which can be seen as a fresco in the Church of St. Georgi in the village of Kurbinovo near the Prespa Lake.
We visited this church during a bus tour of the 7th VT Euomeet.
When there is a marriage at the Plaosnik Church it's possible to peek inside the church. Beautiful songs and a celebration afterwards are really authentic. Look at the couple; they are wearing crowns. Inside the church all the visitors kissed an icon.
The famous Ohrid pearls are made with usage of the scales of the endemic Ohrid Lake Plasica fish which makes them the unique in the world. Nowadays, there are only two families who know the Ohrid’s best kept secret – the secret of making the pearls: Talev family and Filev family. Both of the families have kept the knowledge for the three generations, since the 3rd decade of the 20th century, and both have legend-like stories how the secret made its way to them. The Talev web presentation explains that Ohrid pearl "is very valuable (esteemed) because of natural origin and hand made. Its production is art and unique. The natural pearls are durable 150 years, but Ohrid pearl is durable for ever."
Among the supposed owners of Ohrid pearls are Queen Elizabeth, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and his spouse Queen Silvia of Sweden…
Ohrid pearl is probably the best souvenir from Ohrid, as well as the most appropriate gift for a lady.
For 4 years we as a family are coming to Ohrid. This specially because of the nice fresh air, no...more
Having spent my first week in an excellent hotel in the centre of Ohrid (Millennium Palace) I then...more
During the VT Euromeet 2011 we spent two nights in a double room of Hotel Tino. The price for the...more