9 May 2012

Macedonia-on-the-lake

Throughout our first week of teaching in Skopje, the entrepreneurs in our class had talked about the beauty of Ohrid and its lake, which we were about to discover on a weekend tour organized by our hosts, the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce. When, after an intense first week of teaching, the time came for us to head out on our gettaway, our driver seemed very keen to get us to Ohrid's sights as fast as possible. We survived, and were not disappointed.

The UNESCO World Heritage site, and the pride of Macedonia, welcomed us with a crystal-clear, turquoise lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains, deep blue skies and and impossibly scenic city perched on a hill. As we found our way up narrow cobblestoned streets, past Ottoman houses and by an amphitheater some 2000 years old, our tour guide explained the town's significance as the cradle of Macedonian culture and religion (they had 365 churches!). He also mentioned how he had planned to emmigrate to Canada at some point, but now enjoys brisk business in showing foreign visitors around his city (and he hadn't even attended our LEADER trainings!).

Unfortunately, the lake's waters were still too cold for swimming (even for Canadian standards), but hanging out by the beach we quickly made friends with a few local guys, who took us out to a fabulous long lunch on a sunny lakefront patio. Later, we were welcomed to their home for a few drinks, before heading out into the Ohrid party scene... ah, Macedonian nights under a full moon! :-)

The Sunday sun was already high in the sky the next day, when we tip-toed our way around the resident peacocks at the 9th century St. Naum monastery for one last patio lunch before heading back to our "home sweet home" in Skopje, were we're throwing ourselves into the second week of teaching with souvenirs in our pockets, great memories in our hearts, and just possibly a bit of a tan on our faces.

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