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Mittwoch, 18. April 2018

Lonely Planet lists Macedonia as one of the world’s tastiest destinations

On April 18, 2018

Food is a fundamental element in the travel experience – eating a local dish can evoke ancient traditions stirred into age-old recipes or bring to light new cultural movements whipped into modern fusion cuisine. Today, many of the world’s most food-obsessed countries are making their culinary culture all the more accessible through hands-on time with local cooks, open tasting rooms and behind-the-scenes tours, Lonely Planet writes. 

Moreover, the selection of some of the most mouthwatering food-touring experiences from around the world also includes Macedonia. 


Fascinating, micro food-producing communities exist all over this Balkan state, where home-cooking, home-growing and local foraging are simply part of village life. Mountain herbs, paprika, porcini mushrooms, walnuts and fruit rakija are stockpiled in markets; and local cheese is central to meals thanks to celebrated traditional cheese-makers that produce salty, raw-milk sheep’s cheeses in the Mavrovo National Park. Unsurprisingly, restaurant menus are effortlessly locavore and farm-to-table. The elevated old-stone village of Dihovo at the base of Pelister National Park makes a bucolic base for tasting the regional cuisine. Here, local man Petar has helped pioneer community tourism, reimagining his family home into a pay-what-you-think guesthouse starring home cooking and food, wine and beer tastings. Visit the village’s apiary, kitted out in protective gear, for tales of bear sightings and tastings of woodland honey with the resident beekeeper. 

Mittwoch, 28. März 2018

Ohrid Lake recreational fishing attractive to tourists

On März 28, 2018

Alternative tourism is becoming an increasingly important part of the global tourism market. Statistics show that people are losing interest in vacation packages, preferring to fill their holidays with various unconventional activities instead.

In keeping with worldwide trends, Ohrid, Macedonia’s most famous tourist destination, has started to offer active forms of tourism, including mountain climbing, cycling, paragliding, and scuba diving. Lately, however, recreational fishing trips have become one of Ohrid’s most popular attractions.

Ohrid native Ljupcho Stojkoski-Lepi is a passionate angler, outdoorsman, and fishing guide who has successfully introduced sport fishing as one of the alternative tourist activities the town has offered in the past three years.

Stojkoski has tried to actively incorporate his experiences from Germany and the Netherlands into his promotion of recreational fishing at Ohrid Lake. He offers tourists a unique way of enjoying the lake’s natural beauty while catching fish.

“A large number of tourists bring their fishing equipment to Ohrid,” Stojkoski says. “I organize day trips on the lake, providing experienced fishermen and amateur anglers with everything they need to catch fish – from transportation and equipment to access to the best fishing locations, whether for shore fishing or open-water fishing.”

Foreign visitors who decide to catch fish at Ohrid Lake are usually recreational fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. Most of them release the fish they catch, but there are those who want to keep their fish. The organizer provides all of them with a fishing license that allows them to both fish and to keep some of their catch (up to 5 kg per person, or up to two fish if they happen to catch Ohrid trout).

Best of all, anglers can opt to take their catch to an interesting locale, such as a picnic area or a restaurant, where they can have the fish prepared using traditional local recipes, or in their own preferred way.

Many visitors have taken recreational fishing tours at Ohrid Lake, including tourists from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary, Italy, neighboring Balkan countries, and even China.

“Depending on the kind of fishing they opt for, tourists can fish from fishing boats, various lakeshore locations, or local fish ponds,” Stojkoski says.

“Some of them prefer to catch the fish that will be their dinner. The positive feedback from the fishing tours confirms that recreational fishing deserves its place among the activities Ohrid offers.”

When it comes to Ohrid Lake fishing, it truly is a unique experience for tourists.

“Catching chub from a boat can rival open-sea fishing since we fish at depths of 20-30 meters. The lake’s clear water, combined with beautiful weather and picturesque surroundings, offers a truly unforgettable setting that, as many tourists have said, cannot be put into words, but can only be experienced.”

Surprisingly, however, Ohrid travel agencies have shown little interest in offering this type of recreation. Even worse, according to Stojkoski, some agencies have tried to improvise unprofessional fishing tours, which risks leaving tourists with a bad impression. Stojkovski adds that hotels along the Ohrid riviera, fortunately, take a more serious approach, recognizing the potential benefit from expanding the recreational activities they offer visitors.

Stojkovski is trying to incorporate recreational fishing into the town’s tourist offerings by suggesting it be advertised alongside the town’s attractions at tourist fairs, even if it means simply distributing brochures.

There is no doubt, however, that the best advertising is word-of-mouth. For example, positive feedback and comments from Dutch anglers resulted in Ohrid Lake’s recreational fishing being mentioned in a specialized fishing magazine in the Netherlands a few years ago. Now, a number of Dutch tourists have already booked recreational fishing tours at Ohrid Lake for their next vacation.

Aleksandar Bachikj
Translated by Magdalena Reed

Montag, 26. Februar 2018

Berovo: from an anonymous town to a tourist hotspot

On Februar 26, 2018

Nestled in the Maleshevo valley in the East of Macedonia, Berovo does not seem, at first glance, all that different from any other little Macedonian town. But when you meet the townspeople, when you see the beautiful Berovo Lake and the beech, oak and pine forests stretching across Malesh mountain, and when you learn about its cultural heritage, you will understand why this little town attracts thousands of visitors every year.

There are two legends about how Berovo got its name. The first one says it was named after a farmer called Bero. An argument for this is the existence of a field known as Bero’s field between the villages of Machevo and Robovo.

The second story goes that people gathered (in the Berovo dialect: se berele) in that spot, coming from the old villages of Turtela, Selca, Ribnica, Razdolo, Klepalo, Dobri Laki and other small towns in the Maleshevo region.

In recent years, Berovo has become an alternative tourism hotspot, even though only a decade ago few thought it possible.

Tourism has become a priority

Tourism has become the town’s strategic priority because of its potential for sustainable development of the community. Berovo’s mayor Zvonko Pekevski says the municipality has been working hard on projects important both for citizens and for visitors.

“One of our major projects,” Pekevski says, “is the repair and upgrade of Berovo’s sewer system, which will solve the problem of wastewater, including surface runoff. So far, we have reconstructed eight streets and put down completely new asphalt.

“We are currently building a water treatment plant and a water supply system for the Berovo Lake tourist area, financed by the EU and the city of Sandanski, Bulgaria.”

The project includes developing an interactive smartphone app and a website listing local tourist attractions, information about various local events and places to visit.

“We are also planning to build a walkway around the lake with rest areas, gazebos, benches, wastebaskets, notice boards, and signposts,” Pekevski says.

Any investment in tourism generates income for the municipality in one way or another. This includes building tourist objects and paying property taxes, as well as charging tourist tax.

“Tourism helps citizens supplement their budget, and it also helps producers of food and souvenirs. For some, it is their only source of income; it is their family business. I am glad to hear plans for building several large objects and expanding existing hotels, which should offer further employment opportunities,” Pekevski says.

Capacities are categorized

Berovo is one of the first towns to categorize its tourist capacities. This helps promote the town, ensure visitor satisfaction, and standardize tourist options. 

“Also important is the fact that we keep track of the number of overnight stays and follow strict accommodation standards. We regularly collect tourist tax, as well,” Pekevski says. 

“At the moment,” Pekevski adds, “there are 45 objects with a total of approximately 500 beds, not including hotel capacities outside of our competences. I am pleased that citizens have started offering improved accommodation conditions, some of which rival the standards of some developed European countries.”

Pekevski assures us that the municipality will continue to support all citizens who decide to provide visitor accommodation. They want to ensure high standards and include more citizens in the promotion of Berovo as a tourist hotspot. 

Cultural events attract visitors

In addition to improved infrastructure, cultural events are part of Berovo’s strategy to attract more visitors. 

“The Maleshevo region,” Pekevski says, “apart from its beautiful nature and clean air, the abundance of wild fruit and medicinal herbs, healthy food, and local delicacies, is also known for its traditions, which we keep alive by organizing events to attract tourists.

“The Ratevski bamburci carnival has grown from a local tradition older than 2000 years into a regional carnival and a tourist attraction.

“The local custom of selecting the hardest egg, the kachor, has become an organized competition during the Easter holidays when most natives are back in town and many tourists come to Berovo to enjoy their spring vacations or long weekends. 

"During the summer, there are several major events as part of the Berovo Summer Culture Tour program, such as the Vladimirski ilindenski sredbi (“Vladimirovo village Ilinden meetings”), the Maleshevsko dzvonche (“Malesh bell”) children’s music festival, the Etno ploshtad (“Ethno Square”) festival that takes place in August and brings many concert performances to Berovo, as well as the Maleshevijata na dlanka (“Malesh at your fingertips”) fair of homemade food and crafts.”

Better infrastructure creates a better image

Berovo will focus its energy on improving its infrastructure in the near future, as well, to build a better image of Berovo as a tourist town.

“We will continue,” Pekevski says, “to improve the conditions, such as the Berovo Lake tourist area water supply and sewer systems. We will also work on pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and traffic signal equipment. We plan to create a pedestrian zone along the Bregalnica river and to improve street lighting by using energy-efficient technology. Also important is the reconstruction of the highway to the Klepalo border crossing between Macedonia and Bulgaria, and we hope the central government will see to its opening soon.”

In collaboration with the municipalities of Pehcevo and Delchevo, Berovo will reopen its tourist bureau.

“Our goal,” Pekevski says, “is to promote the region by providing an integrated approach and building a network of local participants. The bureau will bring us closer to the employees in the tourism sector and, more importantly, tourists themselves. It will offer promotional materials and information on natural resources, hiking trails, local souvenirs, healthy food and local products. Berovo has great potential as a tourist destination and it has not reached its zenith yet.”

The story of the Maleshevo region is known far and wide. It attracts visitors from all over the world, mostly from the Netherlands, Israel, Bulgaria, the UK, and the US. They all want to experience the unique beauty of this area. And, during the past ten years, Berovo’s local government has been busy not only promoting the town but also fulfilling its duties: to visitors by providing high-quality services, and to investors by providing incentives to further develop Berovo’s tourism.

Daniela Takeva, Translation by Magdalena Reed

Samstag, 2. Dezember 2017

World's Best Archaeology site Kokino | Macedonia

On Dezember 02, 2017

Kokino (Macedonian: Кокино) is a Bronze Age archaeological site in the Republic of Macedonia, approximately 30 km from the town of Kumanovo, and about 6 km from the Serbian border, in the Staro Nagoričane municipality. It is situated between about 1010 and 1030 m above sea level on the Tatićev Kamen summit and covers an area of about 90 by 50 meters, overlooking the eponymous hamlet of Kokino.

It was discovered by archeologist Jovica Stankovski, director of the national museum in Kumanovo, in 2001. In 2002, Stankovski together with Gorje Cenev (who is the head of a planetarium at a Youth Cultural Center in Skopje) published the claim that the site contains a "megalithic observatory and sacred site".

The oldest archaeological finds date from about the 19th century BC, corresponding to the early European Bronze Age. It shows signs of occupation for the period from the 19th to the 7th centuries BC. Finds from the Middle Bronze Age (c. 16th to 14th centuries BC) are the most numerous (mainly ceramic vessels, stone-mills and a few molds). An agglomeration from the Iron Age was discovered in 2009.

The Kokino "megalithic observatory" should be distinguished from the wider Kokino archaeological site. While the observatory consists of two platforms of a combined area of about 5000 square meters, the site covers about 30 hectares. From this area, an abundant amount of fragments of ceramic vessels, dated to between the 19th and the 11th centuries BC. Also found was a mould for casting bronze axes, and a pendant. The remains of vessels filled with offerings were found deposited in cracks in the rocks, which gave rise to the interpretation of the site as a "holy mountain".

The claimed archaeo-astronomical site itself consists of two platforms with an elevation difference of 19 m. The claim of the site representing an astronomical observatory was made by Stankovski and by Gjore Cenev in 2002. According to this interpretation, the site includes special stone markers used to track the movement of the Sun and Moon on the eastern horizon. The observatory used the method of stationary observation, marking positions of the Sun at the winter and summer solstice, as well as the equinox. Four stone seats or "thrones" are placed in a row on the lower platform. According to Cenev, A stone block with a marking on the upper platform marks the direction of sunrise on summer solstice when viewed from one of the seats.

Kokino was mentioned in a poster made by NASA's "Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum" in 2005.

The Cultural Heritage Protection Office of Macedonia's Ministry of Culture declared the site a "property under temporary protection" on 13 November 2008 (Decision nr. 08-1935/6). In 2009, Minister of Culture Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska declared Kokino "one of the priorities of the Ministry of Culture’s 2009 programme".In 2009, the Republic of Macedonia also suggested the site be inscribed on the World Heritage Site.