Lake Ohrid: Macedonia’s #1 Attraction

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One of the lesser known 5 Compass sights in Europe is shared by Albania and Macedonia–Lake Ohrid.  More than two-thirds of it is in Macedonia. Completely spring fed and extremely old, gorgeous Ohrid, 940 feet deep in places, is like few other lakes.  Perhaps its most famous relative is Russia’s Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest fresh water lake in the world.

Ohrid’s outlet, a major attraction in and of itself, is in the Macedonian town of Struga where its impressive outflow forms the Black Drin River, nickname: Mother of Lake Ohrid.  Black Drin eventually empties into the Adriatic Sea.

Deep and unbelievably clear, Ohrid can be penetrated with excellent human eyes to a depth of 66 feet.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, it’s reportedly 98% pure and under strict regulation to keep it that way.  Its water has historically been linked to miracle cures and neolithic deaths.

We saw settlements on Ohrid’s eastern shore containing clusters of still-vacant vacation homes and restaurants, but there are only 3 real towns on its nearly perfect oval.  The largest is the Albanian city of Pogradec.   Ruth and I stayed 15 miles from Struga in the town of Ohrid in a resort hotel with an unpredictable power generator.  The hotel was across the street from a popular promenade on Ohrid’s curving shore. This town has several nicknames including the City of Light (see photo above) and the Jerusalem of the Balkans.

Lake Ohrid’s source is near scenic St. Naum monastery in Galicica National Park where 30 underwater and 15 coastal springs bubble up through sand. We drifted languorously in boats over these sands to observe the watery phenomenon that feeds 4.7 million year old Lake Ohrid.   Our guide called this “an eternal spring of drinkable water”.  This was clearly true.  He also told us that Heineken has tried to buy Ohrid’s water to make beer and, incorrectly, that the movie Blue Lagoon was made here.  By the time we saw it coming through the sand, this incredibly pure water had traveled for 21 days through limestone caves beneath a mountain being filtered and overly calcified.

Another impressibly large lake named Prespa is across a 6-mile-wide isthmus from Ohrid.  Prespa has a higher elevation and is more remote, so it’s not quite the tourist lure that Ohrid is.  Yet.

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Hank

 

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About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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