Ohrid is the largest city on Lake Ohrid and the eight largest city in North Macedonia. It has a population of 40 000 people.
We decided to stay in Ohrid for a month as one gets a great rate on Airbnb if one books a 28 day period. It ended up costing us 20 Euro more for 28 days as oppose to 21 days!
We wanted a base for a while before our Slovenia housesit in mid May. Ohrid is known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans as it used to have over 365 churches or religious buildings. It was also Adu’s birthday and I thought maybe there would be some interesting Easter festivities and celebrations. My mistake, as Orthodox Christian Easter is celebrated in North Macedonia on Sunday 24th April, not Sunday 17th April when we had already left. Approximately 80% of Ohrid’s population are Orthodox Christian.
Ohrid is often mentioned on digital hotspot bulletin boards as a place to visit. I am so pleased we stayed there. It’s location is just beautiful, sitting on the lake shore. Our Airbnb had wonderful views onto the lake and we found that the weather changed frequently. Sometimes big storms, even with sleet and rain rolled in, but more frequently the lake was a stunning blue colour.
The promenade area along the lake is decorated with statues of the heroes of Ohrid, Saint Clement and Saint Naum. The gardens are also colourful and sculpted.
Swans swim on the lake and sometimes children stop to feed them. We were amazed at the amount of people that walk along the lake shore at all hours of the day, especially in good weather.
Old town Ohrid is built up on the hill. Parking can be difficult and normally if your guesthouse does not have a parking spot it is almost impossible. But most things are walkable, and in fact with parking being such a stress you are more likely to walk. St Naum is accessible by boat, and Galicica National Park and Lake Prespa can be organised as a day trip.
There are lots of restaurants with very reasonably priced food. The only more expensive dishes are beef or Ohrid trout. One of my favourite meals was a traditional Macedonian pork dish with chunks of pork, tomato, peppers, mushrooms and spices often served in a clay pot – just delicious! We also went to a nearby coffee / icecream and cake store and often had Americano (the espresso in a larger cup) and black tea for me with a little milk and a piece of cake. The Macedonians seem to have a great love of icecream 😊 just like I do, and so many places sell different flavours in a cup or cone.
The wifi signal was a bit erratic in our Airbnb. This was problematic for my online teaching so Biljana organised us an unlimited monthly sim which worked very well. I also have a crown on one of my front teeth and this came loose so Biljana recommended a dentist. It was a father and son pair and they were very helpful. I was also amazed that dentists are open for a few hours in the day and then from 5 to 9pm at night. This makes so much sense to see patients out of working hours. Kristian the son said I had a leaking filling and another small hole. He showed me photos of both. I went back to have these fixed and to have a clean and polish. The whole cost was 5000 dinah which is less than 100 Euro for the three appointments. Adu has hurt the tendon of his knee so Kristian organised for him to see a physio. He had an hour appointment with massage and acupuncture that cost 800 dinah. She also looked at my knee and said I had strained my ligaments. I still use my knee guard a lot.
In very close walking distance to our Airbnb there were two adequate grocery stores as well as a large vegetable and fruit store. The cost of living is very reasonable, we fund cheaper than in South Africa. In a similar way to Albania, cash is king. Occasionally you can pay with credit card. Again you are charged a fee per ATM withdrawal so its better to draw in larger amounts. We found NLB Bank had the lowest withdrawal fee.
It was also so lovely to see the approach of Spring with all the blossom and bright flowers outside houses. Some of the colder weather that we had is considered very unusual for April. They said they had not had snow fall on the nearby mountains at that time of year for the last ten years. And we certainly saw snow and sleet in Galicica national park.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Ohrid. I don’t think we would consider it as a future base as it is quite difficult to travel from Ohrid to housesits in Europe, but we would happily return for a month again at a different time of year.