We spent two and a half months staying in Tirana, Albania. During that time, we decided to take a day trip to North Macedonia, given that it was in easy driving distance. We hired the same guide who had taken us to see Berat and, after about two and a half hours, we reached the border crossing. While the process was simple enough and not too crowded, the crossing went kind of slowly. We went on a Friday, so we expect a lot of locals were heading there for some weekend skiing (crossing back in the evening was faster, though we went by a different road that time, too).
Our first and main stop was the beautiful city of Ohrid, which sits upon Lake Ohrid. The ancient name was Lychnidos, and according to at least one legend, it was founded by Cadmus (featured as Kadmus in Tapestry of Fate). It became Ohrid after being claimed by the Bulgarian Empire centuries later. We visited an excavated amphitheater here which was the only real vestige of old Lychnidos still extant. The theater was created by the Greeks and expanded upon by the Romans, and to this day, locals sometimes host shows there (upon a new stage in front of it).
While my research here focuses primarily on the Ancient world, Ohrid’s most famous landmark is the stunning St John at Kaneo church that’s become iconic of North Macedonia. It’s a decent hike up to it, but well worth it. The best views, are, in fact, if you continue upward to look down on the church and the lake at the same time.
St. Naum Monastery
If you’re in Ohrid, you’re only about twenty minutes from the also amazing old monastery of St Naum. Parking outside the main gates, you climb a path to the actual monastery upon the hill. There was a lovely (and thankfully warm) restaurant on the way, as well as pretty views of springs feeding into the lake. Once at the top, we were greeted by a family of peacocks before making our way to the ledge to gaze down on the lake once more.
It had snowed a few days before we went there, and you can even see the last vestiges of that in the picture above. Also note the peacock chilling on the roof. Everything felt so crisp and clean. If you ever get the chance, I’d definitely make the time for Ohrid.