Oh Yeah, Let’s Go Lake Ohrid
You’ll love it, I promise!
It is a beautiful Al Gore Spring day in Macedonia and what better day-trip than a drive to the fabled Lake Ohrid. This tectonic lake is mentioned so often by Macedonians as the greatest tourist destination in the country that you start to wonder if there are any other destinations.
You also start to wonder if Lake Ohrid might be suffering from the over-hype common in small countries with not much going for them. Or in countries who might have the best in the region, but when compared on a global basis, pale.
The beaches of Yalta and Nungwe are the best two examples I can give. Both are over-hyped in their respective countries mainly because they are the best in the region. On a global basis, both are quite lacking.
So it was with some trepidation that I headed out to Lake Ohrid with my colleagues. Totally misplaced trepidation, actually, for Lake Ohrid lives up to the hype. In fact, it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my travels.
As you walk out onto the promenade of the city of Ohrid, the lake’s crystal clear waters span the horizon, reflecting impressive mountains that cradle the lake. Each snow capped mastiff is stunning in its own right, reminding me of Swiss Alps as seen from Rosenheim, Germany.
But no Alpine valley has such a clear water lake. Boats seemingly float on air as they glide by on waters so pure that they call to be tasted. Or blessed. We made our way to Sveti Jovan at Kaneo for our own mid-morning blessing. Once there, the silence and clarity of the air were mesmerizing.
So were the icons of the Church. Dating from the 9th Century, they confirmed Ohrid’s role as a center for religious teachings during the height of the Orthodox Christian influence in the Balkans.
Above this perfect reflective location was Sveti Kliment i Pantelejmon built on the rubble of previous churches dating back to Roman times. Above them all was one of the most logistically perfect fortresses I’ve seen; Car Samoil’s Castle Occupying the top of a several hundred meter high stone hill, the fort had a commanding view of the lake and entire valley of Ohrid.
From there it was all downhill back to the lakeside cafes, filled to capacity on this perfect day. We joined the locals in espresso-sipping and people-watching, constantly in awe of the mountainous backdrop.
So let this be a lesson to all. While other sites may be over-hyped, Lake Ohrid, with its clear waters and granite guardians, is not.