Star Dojran 24/11/2016
After Ohrid I think it is fair to say the rest of Macedonia is not that wonderful and shouldn’t warrant an entry on anyone’s bucket list. The photo above sums it up. Where else have you ever seen a busker using a coke bottle for a mic? We didn’t bother visiting the capital, Skopje as it has nothing going for it apart from a recently built bridge. Like the rest of the Balkans it does have some pretty ripe scenery to behold and some pretty poor roads to get you there.
Bitola is where the beautiful people go to promenade in the wide pedestrian street of Shirok Sokak. As far as we could make out this is all the citizens of Bitola do. Nobody in this town seems to work and the seats in the pavement cafes, arranged in rows facing the walkway are filled with men of all ages from about 11am. The ‘beautiful people’ are the young women and without being slightly Macedonianist I found the females to be slightly short, hirsute and carrying a trifle too much wood to called beautiful. But each to their own and the menfolk cannot get enough. There is not a lot else to see; a statue of Alexander the Great’s dad, a clock tower you cannot go up, a mosque that is boarded-up and old town with no shops in apart from a street selling slippers.
The catwalk before the action begins
Mosque – not open
Old Town Bazaar
The rocking streets of Bitola
That night I treated Tracy to a bag of chips before settling down. Or final day or two was spent travelling across the country towards Bulgaria with a couple of slight detours to the Tikves Winery and the lake at Dojran close to the Greek Border. We did manage to make a slight detour to the city of Prilep to espy the strange rock formations that form a backdrop to another run-down, dull town.
Rocks of Prilep
Prilep is also a centre for tobacco growing and you will find in many gardens the crop at this time of year hanging out to dry.
We would have liked to take some more photos on the journey but we spent a lot of the time in fog and making it impossible to get any decent shots. We stopped at the Tikves winery en-route, which just happens to be the largest in South East Europe and after a bit of discussion we walked away with a couple of bottles. The security guard was a young woman who had been to a language school in Norwich and as a consequence spoke English with a rather amusing accent making her sound like the female lead in a Bernard Matthews production of The Bride of Dracula, all sort of ‘I vant your blehd my luvverly’ The lady in question allowed us to top our tanks with water from the Winery Spring which was jolly decent of her.
As you drive around Macedonia you keep seeing home-made machines that look like something straight out a Mad Max movie. In every town and village there are a squadron of them waiting around to be summoned for work. And their job? To chop wood of course, they are portable saw mills and are used to chop the logs for firewood. I want one.
We did not see Dojan at its best as the lake was covered with a blanket of fog. We eat that night in a local restaurant where Tracy had a catfish and I can’t remember what I had, probably pork. Macedonia is a poor country and the people lack the warmth of neighbouring Albania. The country is a bit of political turmoil with imminent elections which just adds the edginess. Ohrid is a fantastic place but unfortunately it is a single jewel in another wise lack-lustre crown. We would rush back to Ohrid but nowhere else.
Pelicans on Dojan Lake
Love to All