After a couple of days in the capital city, I hopped on an early bus from Skopje to Ohrid lake, I needed my Nature dose and considering how much Ohrid Lake was recommended to me I felt like I have to see it. No plan, no accommodation arranged, I ended up arriving in Ohrid and walking to town centre and the lake, thinking I’ll just go with the flow.
As I walked to the lake still with my backpack I was approached by a lady who asked me if I am after accommodation, I said I wasn’t sure what I’m doing next, but that I don’t plan on paying for accommodation. She still gave me her number and ended up sitting with me on a bench along the lake for a brief chat. She asked me where I was from and when I said I’m originally Bulgarian, she enthusiastically asked me if I spoke fluent Bulgarian and if I’d understand her speaking in Macedonian, I said I do and that I’ll try. And so she just started speaking in Macedonian to me, me replying in Bulgarian and the conversation was actually pretty good.
I asked her what Macedonians think about Bulgarians and Bulgaria and she said that it doesn’t matter whether we are Bulgarian or Macedonian by nationality, that we are in a way ‘one’, and that people in Macedonia don’t bother listening to the hatred and drama politicians try to create between our countries. My idea about Bulgaria and Macedonia was that Bulgaria is unhappy with the loss of land and not accepting of a separate nationality, language and culture for those that live in nowadays Macedonia; and that perhaps Macedonia views Bulgaria as a nasty country denying their separate identity and freedom. So what the lady said to me did make me feel more comfortable being a Bulgarian in Macedonia, in a way it felt I’m in a country that is like a sibling to mine – equal, kind…I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain. Basically my ideas about our countries relationship were proven wrong that day, and not once, but twice – coz I did need to confirm my findings yet another time.
After my conversation with the lady, I called a young person from Ohrid – Hakan – who I met via CouchSurfing and arranged to meet once he was done with his shift at work. Then I decided to walk along the lake and go to the pier to sit and chill out before I was due to meet him. As I was walking down the pier a slim man in his 60s walking along commented on my big back pack, asking how many kg it was and then continued the conversation asking me where I was from etc. and as soon as I said I’m originally Bulgarian he gave me a big smile and said, ‘Well let’s speak in Bulgarian then!’ in Bulgarian. He was Macedonian, but spoke Bulgarian well. I probably spent more than an hour with him on the pier, just talking about our countries, politics, and also his work as a tour guide. He left me at the pier to continue with his daily duties minutes before Hakan arrived.
And here, I will point out, that this particular day as illustrated is the perfect example of how you’re never alone on the road, because people will just talk to you and if you respond well, you’d get to spend some time talking to strangers that may leave you with a nice feeling of having had just connected with someone, and who knows even make friends, potential business partners, and so on.
Hakan turned out to be a very nice, interesting person, with a weird cultural and national identity, which I found so interesting to explore with him, I’m so grateful for him sharing and giving me such insight – it was wonderful! At some point, we decided to dip in the lake, the water was pretty nice and so I just floated a little round the rocks while he did go for a proper swim… We then shared a nice lunch, still discussing the world, when another CouchSurfer, who I have spoken to earlier joined us for desert! Hakan left and I continued with the other CouchSurfer across town, and along the lake to walk to the church up the hill, where I watched the sunset and decided to stay overnight. Yes, I did sleep under the open sky in the church yard, cuddled up in my favourite sleeping bag, in the company of a grey cat that kept on walking over me during the night. And out of the whole day, I probably was alone only for a few hours before I went to sleep, and I cherished these few hours as I got to listen to an audio book, and walked around the church yard in the silence of the night. One word to describe my late evening: Peaceful!
Let me share some pictures with you, before I continue.
In the morning I woke up early, packed and headed back to town…but I didn’t get to town until late in the afternoon when I decided to find another spot to camp. And I didn’t get to town because I was tempted and stayed at one of the beaches for the whole day. It was wonderful, sunbathing, reading, coffee, cake, a nice meal and a new acquaintance made with a nice girl who turned out to be Macedonian-Bulgarian! Again wonderful conversations! Perfect day! I wish I had more days like this while travelling, and I will work on it!
In the late afternoon I headed through town to seek another place to sleep under the stars, as it was suggested to me by the tour guide guy I mentioned earlier. On the way there I met two other backpackers with whom I ended up travelling for a couple of days to the other side of Ohrid lake and through Albania. We set camp near the lake again, no tents though, the weather was nice enough to sleep under the open sky. We started chatting and it wasn’t long before we noticed another two backpackers and gave them a shout and invited them to join us. Another night under the sky, I could hear the waves of the lake splashing just few meters away from us.
In the morning some of us were awakened by the water sprinklers for the grass, as we felt the big water drops hitting our feet. I got up to pull part of the tarp sheet over our legs so that the sprinklers don’t wet us any more and had a little more sleep. The convenience of a tap with running water in the park just meters away from us was a blessing in the morning; brushing your teeth and washing your face with running water in a public park was strange, but fun.
We all packed and walked to town, we walked to a beach, stopped there for a few hours and after we had some good food in town centre and made a circle round exploring some of the monuments in Ohrid, we had to split and continued to our next destinations. I continued my travels with a Czech girl and a French boy that were travelling to south Albania as I was.
But the journey in Macedonia did not end there…it will be continued in another post 🙂