Wrapping up my time in Kosovo

In three days I will be in Vienna, en route to Rochester.  It both feels like I’ve been in Kosovo forever, and like I just got here.

I have lots of pictures and stories to share about my travels (Paralia, Greece, and Sofia, Bulgaria).  But for some reason I haven’t had enough energy to both live my life AND blog about it in the last couple of weeks.

So I’m going to finish up my UNDP work, finish packing and cleaning, fly across the Atlantic, and then catch up on the blog.  Look for some new posts next week. :)



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Ohrid, Macedonia — Saturday and Sunday

Saturday I had breakfast at the hotel, and then inquired at the reception desk if there was a place I could rent a bicycle for the day.  The receptionist pointed me to the Duck Kaffe, about 500 meters down the road.  So I rented a bike!

Bikes lined up, waiting to be rented

The bike was 500 Macedonian Denars for the day, which is about $11.  I rode around the boardwalk for a while, and then back to the hotel to get my swimming gear.  The bike came with a lock, so I locked the bike outside the hotel.  After gathering my towel and changing into my swimsuit, I got my bike, and rode back into town to pick up some lunch.  Then I biked past the boardwalk, down and along the coastline to the beach area, where people were swimming.

Bike loaded with swimming gear, lunch

I set up my lunch on my towel, and got set up on the beach.

I ate my lunch and read some of my Kindle.  After I got warm, I decided to go in the water.  The rocks were mossy and slippery.  The mud was practically quicksand—upon stepping onto it, my leg slipped down as far as my knee.  I finally got in the deeper water, and swam around for a while.  It water was cool and refreshing.

The walk back to the beach was equally difficult.  It really hurt my feet.  I felt silly, since there were little children playing in the water with no difficulty.  Apparently walking barefoot on big, round, slippery rocks is a skill that I have not acquired.

I set up on my towel with my book to dry out.  I had sunscreen on, and laid out for a while.  After fifteen minutes laying on my front, my back was starting to feel hot.  I couldn’t reach all the spots with sunscreen, so I figured it was time to get out of the sun.  When I got up to gather my things, I saw my right foot—my big toe was all bloody.

It did hurt, but I figured that the pain was just from slipping around on the rocks.  I had to get back to the hotel one way or the other, so I decided to just ignore it for the time being.  I packed my stuff back into the bike basket, and pedaled back to the hotel.

In my room, I rinsed my foot carefully, and discovered a small gash.

It had bled a lot, but it wasn’t too bad.  I bandaged it up, and went back outside.

That evening I met my friends for dinner.  They had gone on a boat trip for the day.  Since they had been to Ohrid before, the boat trip to a small town on the other side of the lake with a monastery was new and cool.  And they said the trip was great—they really enjoyed it.

We ate dinner at another small restaurant.  The food was nice, and the company was pleasant.

Me at the restaurant

My foot was sore, so I went home after dinner and went to bed.

Ohrid at night

Sunday I had a lazy morning in bed, and then checked out of the hotel at 11.  I brought my Kindle to the boardwalk and set up a little place on the grass to read.

Around 3 I made my way back to the bus.  Ohrid was as lovely and enjoyable as everyone had said.



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Ohrid, Macedonia — Friday

The weekend of July 9-10 I went on the UN trip to Ohrid, Macedonia.  Ohrid is the name of a lake, and also a town on that  lake.  Lake Ohrid is one of a few lakes in the Balkans, and is the deepest of the Balkan lakes.  Ohrid is spelled Охрид in Macedonian, and the “x” doesn’t have a good English equivalent.  It’s kind of a guttural “huh”.  If you say “oh-rid”, people won’t really know what you mean.

In my short time in Kosovo, many people have told me about visiting Ohrid.  It is universally praised as being beautiful, and a great place for vacation.  Often times when something is that built up, the reputation is better than reality.  But Ohrid delivered!

The trip down was about four hours.  The first half was nice and smooth, the second half was winding as we made our way through the mountains, and down to the lake.  I prepared myself with Dramamine, soda, an audio-book, and my head resting on the seatback.  It wasn’t the smoothest ride, but I didn’t get violently ill.  Phew.

We arrived around 8:30, and the sun was just setting.  The sky was a gorgeous purple, the air was cool, the water was enchanting, the town was charming.  It was great.  I checked into my hotel (lakeview room!), and the had dinner with some ladies I met on the UN bus.  They had been to Ohrid many times before, and were just as effusive with their praise as everyone else I’d met.

View from my hotel room

On our way to dinner, one of my companions stopped in a shop that sold wood carvings.  The local churches are all decorated with ornately carved wood.  She purchased a small plaque that she was really happy with.


Woodcarving tools

Carving in process

We had dinner at a little outdoor restaurant.  I ordered a pasta al forno, which was supposed to come in a lovely cheese sauce.  I was hoping for something rich and vaguely Italian.  Instead, the cheese in question was a pungent goat cheese.  It was all right, just not what I had hoped for.

I then went back to my hotel to rest up for Saturday explorations!



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