Readers who have ever travelled to Greece by train may find that my lines invoke images of Macedonia; a small country in the Balkans with two million people, rich with lakes and mountains, a beautiful climate and neighbours who really really like her. I’m in no mood to talk about history, political relations with neighbours and the like. Rather, I will be your Hans Christian Anderson with a small helping of sarcasm just in case you’ll get bored.
First stop on our journey is Ohrid Lake, 288 metres deep, 30 kilometres long, 2-4 million years old and surrounded by mountains and the locals selling tourism with so much enthusiasm you could scream with surprise. Not a happy surprise mind you, but rather one of shock. If you are in a restaurant and you have a fork but no knife, upon asking for a knife you will be greeted with the response “well we do not have enough knives for all the guests.” You have to find your own solution here. There’s no ketchup, it’s the end of the season and no one is the mood to buy a whole new bottle this late in the year. Do not look for justice: you chose to come here, you could have stayed at home. But I must restrain myself and remind you not to forget the people of Ohrid’s hospitality because, after all, I would not wish to have my name splashed across the Macedonian press for bad mouthing my own country.
Lets’ concentrate on the lake. Rent a small boat and go to the centre, where you can swim in the astonishingly clean water, catch a delicious Ohrid trout and of course catch some summer sun. Moreover you can explore the lake from the other side, the bottom that is as the local diving club can take you on a tour of nature from the tertiary period till today. For those find of shopping, they might even find a well-known Ohrid pearl, with a unique quality comparable to the best Japan has to offer. Forget the hospitality, people are changing, just come and enjoy.
The other example that I mentioned at the beginning is Lake Mladost (Youth) in the geographic centre of Macedonia. Only 7km from Veles, this artificial lake made at the beginning of 80’s is hidden in a forest and is best for those who have to wait for their holidays and who like to party outdoors. If you have the strength to pull it out the water, you might be lucky enough to catch a 200kg fish. There are intimate spots for those who like to practice “bed sports” under an open sky. The beaches are the perfect location for the four-day long raves organised every summer. And after the end of the midnight bar parties you can refresh yourself in the lake so that you’re not too drunk to drive back to the city.