The Very Special Lake Ohrid
Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
38Trip End May 12, 2012
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Since I opted for the all day boat ride on Lake Ohrid today, I had to be out front by 8:30. There were only 6 of us going: Zoe, Lynne, Graeme, Vicki, Michael and I. Sasha here at the hotel instructed us to go to the flagpole and there we were met by Zoran, our boat pilot/captain. He walked us over to his boat and told us the first thing was to drink a salute to St Nicola so he poured us a little plastic cup of raki (that he had made himself) and we followed his example of offering a bit to the lake before drinking some ourselves. I had to sip mine. It was amber colored rather than clear and tasted a lot like brandy. He also offered us some of his homemade white wine and said he would make us coffee later after one of our stops.
He told us quite a bit about the lake because he had worked as a biologist doing measurements or experiments
Zoran was a real character. I don't know if it was the constant smoking, the raki and wine drinking, the hearty laugh, his smile with front teeth missing. He had tons to tell us and he thoroughly seemed to enjoy being able to pass on all his knowledge about the lake and the area's history. Someone asked about the snow on the mountains and he said it was gone by August and never really got much worse than what we saw. Since the mountains had oaks, they wouldn't be able to survive in a lot of snow. Zoran gave us an itinerary but I think I forgot it because I didn't really catch what we were going to see
First we stopped at the Bay of Bones where a prehistoric village was reconstructed on stilts above the water. An area of water was enclosed around it where divers had found quite a bit of pottery and implements used by the early people. It was fun to peek into the windows of the houses and see what they had: beds with animal skins, cradles, looms, fireplaces and the window treatments were interesting in that they had a sort of slatted roll-up blind. We could also walk up the hill to the Roman fort ruins and walk around to see the beautiful view of the dock and reconstructed houses/huts. There were also some lovely pink flowers along the path up to the Roman reconstruction.
From there we followed the eastern side of the lake shore. Zoran showed us a place where he had been seduced as a 14-year old by an 18-yr old Belgian girl. He then told us that this area was restricted and people should not be there - such as his son who called to say hello from where he was setting up his grill and saw his father's boat. Zoran told us that boats were not supposed to go close to the shore either because they would be fined - because they could endanger the fish that were spawning. We saw some birds and Tito's villa as well as the prime minister's and the bodyguards' villas
We went by another spot with holiday picnickers next to an old church of St Mary of the Mind. Somehow there was a miracle that people made it there in a storm and a church was built by bringing all the materials there by boat. There was another place - a beach where young people congregated where I think his son may have been as well. Here I am confused but this was a kind of hippie haven where everyone shared with everyone else and the police looked the other way when people smoked pot. He said in his judgment that pot was less harmful than raki.
I can't remember if we went anywhere else. It was a 31 km ride to St Naum's and after about 3 hours we got there. The church itself is lovely on the exterior. I really like the brick and stone work and the way the pieces are composed. Zoran had special entree because his friend was there so the man spoke about the church and then Zoran translated into English in his big booming voice for us. He kept on touching the icons and I wondered if that was really OK. He got us permission to take photos even though it wasn't allowed. I think of Zoran like Zorba the Greek - larger than life. We saw the icons of Methodius and Naum was a disciple of Methodius. Zoran also pushed aside the curtain of the iconostasis to show us the bones of Naum - or someone. He showed us the grave of Naum where sick children were brought to be healed. Naum was patron saint of the mentally ill. And Zoran told us the story of the bear
At this point we were getting a little rushed. Zoran helped us get some fast food at some of the stands set up outside the Monastery that were serving food to the large number of holiday visitors since today was a holiday here. We all got jumbo hamburgers for 90 dinars. Zoran went back to his boat for lunch and we met him 45 minutes later to continue our trip back to Ohrid. On the way back, he was much less talkative and he told us that it was because he was strongly affected by going to the monastery and seeing the icon of his family saint Nicola. He also made the sign of the cross when we passed the shrine or special place dedicated to saint Nicola. By then Zoran had drunk quite a bit of his wine and raki though and I thought he was a little worse off for it. I forgot to mention that we didn't have any life vests and not even enough seat cushions to sit on for all of us.
I don't think any of us regretted the trip because the weather was great, the lake so beautiful - with reflections of the rocks, the villages, the green trees with bright new leaves
I wasn't sure I would go out to dinner since I have so much food left but decided to go. We ate at a place with a table right on the lake. I had stuffed peppers and Macedonian red wine and both were good. I am cutting this short here because there isn't much more of interest and I need to wash my hair before going to bed to get up early again to leave for Albania tomorrow.