Church of the day
Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
115Trip End Mar 21, 2008
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These two facts should be reason enough to visit but Ohrid also happens to be a scenic and historical town close to the Albanian border. Sold! But wait, there's more. Did you know that there are precisely 365 churches in Ohrid? That's one for every day of the year if you don't have a calendar handy. (I'm not sure what they do on leap years; maybe temporarily convert a mosque or inflate a bouncy castle and stick a castle up top . . .)
Half a dozen men are waiting for us as we get off the bus, reminding us of those crazy days in India or Tanzania. Each of them has a private room they would like us to rent and each has a unique niche in the market, which they shout to us while jostling to be in our line of vision.
"My place is closest to the beach!" says Man #1.
"My place is closest to the town - only three hundred metres from the vegetable market!" counters Man #2.
"My place is the cheapest - only six euros a night!"
"My place has colour TV!"
"I lived in Australia for fourteen years!"
And so on. It's a good show and we let them fight over us for a few minutes and then choose Man #1. His real name is Sashko, not Man #1.
"Ah, short for Alexander", I say, showing off my knowledge of European names. "Are you named after Alexander the Great?"
"Actually, I am just Sashko, or Sasha." So that I don't feel bad he adds, "but you are correct that Sasha can be Alexander."
Sashko usually lives in the US but comes back to Macedonia for July and August to hustle for his family's Pension. He proudly tells us that he lives in New Jersey and works in - wait for it - one of Donald Trump's hotels. He is clearly expecting us to be wildly impressed by this connection with America's favourite tycoon.
"Trump's a bit of a dick," I announce, unintentionally bursting his balloon. Sorry, but he is.
Europeans certainly go in for the whole two weeks by the beach thing. They will happily rent a tiny little apartment and spend all day every day just lying on the same beach, then go home again.