We left Veria and backtracked to A27. We drove back through the series of tunnels and turned up a valley. Power plants, a mine, and little villages, some farming....citrus, veggies particularly tomatoes and corn, some grape vines....were along the way. We seemed to be high in the mountains.
We crossed the border at Niki with little problem once we showed passports and car insurance. The first thing we noticed was the deteriation in the roads. Then the quality of the villages. They seemed vacant as we wound through them. Soviet style apartment blocks and buildings seemed the norm. Houses...single family dwellings seemed top heavy. Most houses further along were square. We saw flocks of sheep occasionally. One herd of cattle. Bitola, Macedonia's 2nd largest city is pressed against a mountain. Deciduous trees line the strèts. A large treed park is in the center or so it seemed. Buildings were Soviet style again. There was traffic here.
We carried on. Shortly out of Bitola, E65 improved although it remained a 2 lane highway. We passed one lake. We came into a town. It was busier. Clio told us we had arrived in Ohrid. But where was the lake? We could see a fort...Czar Samuel's fortress....high on the mountain behind town but no lake!
We went round a couple of round-abouts, along a street and saw a sign pointing to the right with the word LAKE. We turned and at the end of the street was a pretty little lake. It is clear, over 300 m deep in spots, spring fed, and blue. We park, eat a picnic lunch and go for a walk. We learn time has stepped back an hour. Do we want to go for a boat ride to see the Old Town, the churches and the fort from the water? 10 € later we are skimming along the waves learning about churches, monasteries and Roman walls, theaters and little about the fort. And yes it is relaxing. It changes our perspective and we decide to stay. We find a hotel. We rest a bit. It is cooler...20's...and we go find a bank to get some dinars. Next a restaurant for a drink and a snack.....
We try a Macedonian salad of tomatoes, grilled yellow peppers and onions, a warm bread cubed with grated cheese and chilli peppers, a local bean dish. Gord tries small bottles of different local red wines and a local grappa rakia that is sweet and reminds me of slivovich.
After we walk to the Old Town and explore. Greece was much older. This is from the 18th century. Lots of rock buildings. Lots of jewellery shops selling the 'famous' Ohrid pearl...exquisite. Restaurants are along the waterfront that the Old Town curls around. We stop in one for another drink. Decide to watch the sun set. We talk to a couple from New Mexico who are on a small tour of Northern Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia.
They have opted to have dinner instead of going on a boat ride. We see their tour mates in 2 small over loaded boats barely above water flounder by. It is windy. They are low and being tossed about. The couple we talk to think they made the right decision.
We have a meal...opting to share a plate. Portions are so large.
After we walk back through the Old Town. People have come out of the woodwork. It is crowded. We weave our way through and back to the waterfront. There are few lights here but still people stroll. Soon we have passed the reeds alng our part of the lake and found our hotel...the Millennium Palace. We have coffee and go to our room