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Samstag, 24. Juni 2017

Lake Ohrid – the oldest lake in Europe

On Juni 24, 2017

Macedonia as a country is small in it’s size, in fact it is 25.3 thousand square kilometers in size. However despite this little fact about it’s size it has a great variety of natural wonders, history and architecture to offer to any wandering tourists. Macedonia today is a free country, but once in history it was also a part of the Ottoman, Roman and Byantine empires and later even part of Bulgarian and Serbian empire. However even all those other forces that interfered with Macedonia it has successfully preserved it’s beauties and culture and one fact, that it is the birthplace of Slavic literature. Now on this virtual trip you will see the crystal clear water of Lake Ohrid in Macedonia.

Full of small fish and beautiful fauna that is not dangerous for humans is what makes this place worth a visit to enjoy.

As far as fish you can find Koran fish that look like trouts and they are only found here in Lake Ohrid and Russian Lake Baikal so that’s just another Pan-Slavic link there.

Not far from the lake you can find a park called Drilon, or even cafe’s for tourists and locals or if you are a bit more adventurous you could even take a ride on a catamaran.

Warm weather of Balkans will keep you warm so this is one of those perfect relaxing locations for your holiday.

Also prices are pretty cheap so that is another bonus for you if you ever visit it during your Balkan tour!

Freitag, 16. Juni 2017

Pelister beauty with characteristics of the Alps

On Juni 16, 2017
Pelister National Park is the smallest of the three national parks in Macedonia, but not less impressive than Mavrovo and Galicica. The unique national richness, endemic animals and plants at the Baba mountain range made Pelister the first national park in Macedonia back in 1948.

The park encompasses an area of 17,150 hectares at a height above sea level ranging between 927m up to 2,601m.

The wonderful landscapes are Pelister's trademark, including tame meadows, surrounded by thick Macedonian pines (molika), the pure water springs, waterfalls and mountainous lakes, also known as the Pelister Eyes, moraines and diverse flora and fauna.

The park bears the name of its most impressive peaks Pelister, almost always in the clouds. Its grey color coming from the white-grey stone resemble a grey dove nested in the green bosom of Baba mountain. In fact, so says a legend on the origin of its name, according to which the name comes from the Greek word 'peristeri' meaning a dove. According to another legend, the name comes from the five-needled pine called 'petlister'. Although located in the country's south, it is the only range having the characteristics of the Alps.

The Macedonian pine (molika) is Pelister's natural trait and probably the most deserving for its status as a national park and the trademark of the city of Bitola.

Molika is a species of pine native to the mountains of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, the extreme southwest of Serbia, and the extreme north of Greece, growing typically at 1,000-2,200m altitude. It often reaches the alpine tree line in this area. The mature size is up to 35–40 m height, and 1.5 m trunk diameter. However, the height of the tree diminishes strongly near the upper fores limit and may even obtain shrub sizes.

The fir tree and beech are also part of the park, as well as 21 types of plants and rich fauna, including the endemic Pelister and Pelagonija trout.

Another natural phenomenon of the Pelister National Park are the moraines, i.e. a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier. Unfortunately, these moraines are reducing due to the enlargement of the molika-covered areas.

Pelister is also known for its glacial lakes - the Small Lake at 2,200m above sea level, the Big Lake at 2,400m, as well as the Eagle's Lake. They are impressive not only by their beauty, but the specific types of endemic shrimps that live in them.

Author: Keti Mickovska

Donnerstag, 15. Juni 2017

Why i loved Skopje: Macedonia’s cool and quirky capital

On Juni 15, 2017
Quirky Skopje seems to be a city with an identity crisis – with brand new, neo-classical architecture that wouldn’t look out of place in Athens or Rome, Ottoman era mosques and Albanian influenced bazaars,  hundreds of huge quirky and kitsch bronze statues, a Parisian style ‘Arc De Triomph, red London double decker buses that ply the streets, a huge 66 meter high cross atop of a hill that is kind of like Macedonia’s version of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer and even a London Eye in the pipeline.

All this makes Macedonia’s capital an interesting, diverse and fun place to wander around and explore but I couldn’t help wondering why this country, one of the poorest in Europe (meaning its also one of the cheapest bargains for travellers)  has spent so much money on all these quirky statues and monuments that seem a little out of place.

Perhaps this it’s not surprising that Macedonia is so diverse given its geography and its long and interesting history.

Skopje stands at a cross roads in South Eastern Europe between Greece and Serbia to the South and North, and with Albania to the West and Bulgaria and Turkey to the East.

Macedonia has already lived through many reincarnations including being part of the Roman Empire, 500 years of Ottoman rule and part of Yugoslavia before finally gaining independence in 1991. The city has also been raised to the ground and rebuilt after several earthquakes, one in 1963 destroyed most of the city in just a few minutes.

Even now there are still debates and controversy over the very name of the country – Greece recognises Macedonia as a region of Greece and as long as Greece challenges Macedonia on its name, its access to Nato and the EU is essentially blocked.

Skopje’s city center must be the statue capital of the world. I’ve never seen so many statues in one city! In fact I asked my walking tour guide how many statues there were and he said that nobody actually knows!

One of the most striking statues is a 22-meter statue called Warrior on a Horse. It is widely understood to depict Alexander the Great, but cannot be officially named that because of a long-running dispute with Greece, who also claim him as their national hero. Macedonia made sure they had the biggest statue but now Greece are building another to beat it and the Macedonians are planning a way to usurp them again!

So why are there so many statues in Skopje?

Since 2010, In an controversial attempt to attract more tourism and increase patriotism and national identity this former soviet bloc capital has been under much regeneration in recent years as these huge civic buildings, public works and statues have been built as part of Project 2014.

The architecture and statues are certainly interesting and tourism has increased a lot but this Disneylandish project is controversial with many locals because of allegations of corruption and because they believe the money would have been better spent elsewhere and that many of the developments actually have little connection to Macedonia’s heritage. 

The project has cost somewhere between €200-€500m and there are even statues of shoe shiners and beggars – but surely the amount of money that it cost to build these statues would probably have been better spent helping the shoes shiners and beggars out of poverty?

Even so, Macedonia’s capital is an interesting, quirky and unpretentious, multicultural city that is great value for money and has a lot to explore and I really enjoyed visiting. Don’t miss visiting this bargain offbeat gem.

Tips for visiting Skopje

Macedonia is a beautiful country that is one of the cheapest and best value destinations in Europe. Macedonia is not in the Euro which makes it more of a bargain, you can find a hostel bed for only €6 or a hotel from €15 and you can eat a meal out for about 100 MKD which is less than €2

It’s easy and cheap to get around on public transport and is well connected to neighbouring countries like Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and the rest of Europe. Whizz Air also has cheap flights to Skopje – you can get flights from London Luton from only £13!

Macedonia packs a lot into a small country, there’s lots to do in the capital Skopje don’t miss gorgeous Lake Ohrid

Of course I had to stay at Shanti Hostel in Skopje which I loved. Its close to the bus and train  station and easy walking distance to the center and has a relaxed and friendly home away from home atmosphere.

Did you know that Macedonia is also the only country in Europe that Indian citizens do not need a visa for!

Dienstag, 13. Juni 2017

Paragliding over lake Ohrid - Video

On Juni 13, 2017

Nice video coverage of a air ride over lake Ohrid and mount Galichica. 
For more stories and beauties from Ohrid, use our tag Ohrid - Click Here

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