20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

Wheel change party

Albania, on route to Ohrid

Lake Ohrid

Ancient Theatre

Samuel's Castle


Pile 'em high





Sun lake silhouette


St someone's

Down the lake

One bus ticket, Tirana to Ohrid, 100km in 6 hours, €10 - transport value minimal, mystery tour value fantastic. We started off in the wrong direction, I didn't realise this until we started driving along the coast. Tirana is inland and Macedonia is further inland but we had appeared to have driven for an hour to Durres to make a further pickup. I'd ask why the bus didn't start in Durres and leave Tirana an hour later but from watching the traffic I know that logic doesn't work here - some people really need dictators as they don't know how to make basic decisions on their own. We got a puncture in Durres and after a spot of failed DIY tyre repair ended up at a "Gomist" on the edge of town. Further slight delay when we found out we were a wheel-nut down but it was in someone's pocket so we got back on the road. We stopped for lunch at 12:30, I got the GPS out - 30 miles from Tirana in 3.5 hours. The rest of the journey passed without further incident, the border crossing was smooth and they either forgot or have dropped the €10 exit tax.

The bus doesn't actually come to Orhid, it goes to Tetovo but passes the junction before Ohrid so drops off at the town before, Struga. There are busses every 15 minutes from Struga but in what I think is a bit of a Taxi stitch-up they dropped me outside of Struga where taxis are waiting but no busses. I took a cab for €5, we followed the bus that I'd just got off for more than half of the way - it can make a 20 mile detour in the wrong direction to pickup in Durres but can't go 5 miles to drop off in Ohrid! I asked to be dropped in the centre and thought I'd take my chances from there. I'd been recommended a guesthouse called Antonio's by more than one person but forgot to pick up their card at the Tirana hostel. As the taxi approached the centre of Ohrid it passed a cyclist who called out to the driver. The cyclist rode up to us as I got out of the cab. He said that he had a guesthouse and saw the Struga cab, his name was Antonio. By a great bit of travel luck I had a guide straight to the B&B I'd wanted to find.

My room has the first TV with English language channels since I left home, I turned on CNN and the first story - the MS Explorer, the little red ship mentioned only a few days ago is sinking, bizarre.

And now it's sunk, I feel quite sad - they had finished their trip and now they get to spend a night at an Antarctic base and get home on military transport planes, great value for money.

Oh, sorry, I digress, Ohrid, next to lake Ohrid, unfortunately it's a nice place or I could have called it Hohrid. Up 600m nestled amongst snow capped peaks and it has a proper castle on top of the hill. It was empty when I arrived but obviously locals from all around come here for the weekend as it filled up this morning until you could hardly walk around the main strip or the lake-front. I was safe wandering around the cobbled streets up the hill to the castle though, most day-trippers didn't make it that far.

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