Ohrid, North Macedonia

    Ohrid, North Macedonia

    Wednesday, August 16, 2023

    After a twisty and turny bus ride, we arrived in Ohrid late in the day and found a taxi into the old town. Most cars aren’t allowed in without a pass, so we were dropped off outside the gate and rolled in through the arch. Our house was quite close. We dumped our bags and, after a long day, headed to “Pizza Leonardo” where we got four “standard-size” pizzas (we never found out whether it was the Balkan standard #4 pizza or more of a EU standard). Sunset on the lake was really pretty from our balcony.

    On the bus from Tirana Concrete train bridge Border crossing into North Macedonia Passports First view of the lake Taxi into old town The view from our balcony Walking to dinner Old church next to pizza Pizza Leonardo Sunset

    Thursday, August 17, 2023

    The next morning we headed out to “Samuel’s Fortress”, a castle once occupied by Tsar Samuel amongst various invaders and siege-layers over the years. The castle had been rebuilt; the castellations at the top were complete (and used concrete to hold it together), and some of the new walkways did not exactly match up with the old walls. But at least there was a railing, in contrast to Albania.

    Walking down the hill from the castle, we walked by an archaeological site within a monastery; we didn’t go in because we were getting a little hangry. Stopping for a snack outside of the monastery, the kids did some reading and writing. We walked into town and headed along the shore on a boardwalk, which took us by a couple small beaches and bars to a fantastic find of a restaurant (It was highly rated in Sara’s Eastern Europe book 15 years ago). We ate a great lunch featuring a bunch of different fish. We walked back to the apartment; Max and I napped while the kids did some school. Dinner was at home that night.

    The front of Fortress “Samuel” Inspecting the perimeter Walking the wall Walking the wall We are the watchers on the wall… Heading inside Nock, Aim, Fire! Special inspection of the stair’s pitch View of the town from the tower They’re getting heavy… Sam and Sara Coming down some steep steps View of the new town Helical plants

    Ben on the wall Sam and Max Ben and Mom Mom on the wall Mom and kids coming down Long shot of Mom and the kids “Samuel’s Fortress” Snack break Excavation under the monastery Kids checking out 2 tortoises Walking to lunch in town The walls of an old church Walking down to the water Looking out from the boardwalk Boardwalk Along the boardwalk Cliffside bar Cliffside beach Looking for the restaurant Along the path… Aah, there it is

    Ben’s “field notes” Lunch: Fish soup, “trout in prison”, sea breem, salad. Local passionfruit Nap with Max Early Dinner

    Friday, August 18, 2023

    Max woke up early and went out to the living room by himself. He was so quiet for so long that we had to check in on him…we found him quietly at work on his “workbook”, a pre-school level book we brought with us for him to work on colors, letters, and numbers. Very impressive. We did some school in the morning and then headed out to find a park and learn about boat rental options. Mom went for a walk while I watched the kids, and then we switched; I made it up the main walkway all the way to the bazaar before turning around. We got Doner Kebabs for lunch and brought them back to the park.

    At the park, Sara met up with a woman she had been chatting with recently about a pop-up school she was setting up in Ohrid; she lives in Canada and had her two kids with her, and were staying, along with her mom, in Ohrid for several months. Ben, Sam, and Max really enjoyed playing with them at the park. I headed back to the apartment to get some work done, and they met me at home for a brief wind-down.

    We met back up for a beach dinner while the kids used their new nets that Sara got them to fish for minnows.

    We found Max up early, working on his workbook Me and Sam doing some bananagram spelling Glimpse of the bazaar Sammy getting into his Gyro Kids love water View of the town from the pier Kids playing Kids playing Creepy building Boardwalking to the beach Picnic on the beach Ben’s catch of the day Kids netfishing The “haul” The “haul

    Saturday, August 19, 2023

    The kids woke up and did school early. After that We met up with our friends and made our way to the “semi-submarine”, to get there a little bit before the 11:00 a.m. departure, but found it full. We decided to stick around for the 12:00 p.m. tour. The kids played in the park, I went to the bakery and got some different things to try, and at noon we embarked on our voyage under the lake.

    It was a pretty neat tour. We saw lots of little fish, I saw a water snake swimming on the lake bed, and we saw a lot of seaweed. The boat itself doesn’t ever go underwater but, unlike a glass bottom boat, you’re fully immersed in the water when you’re downstairs. It was also a little disorienting to look out the thick glass as the boat moved forward, because the warped view through the thick glass made it look like you were moving inside a kaliedescope.

    We got off the boat and made our way to a water taxi and immediately took a short little tour on our way to a nearby beach recommended by our friend. We spent the whole afternoon there, with our kids in the water almost the whole time. Though the sun was hot, there was luckily a bar nearby; we finished off the afternoon with some beers.

    Looking across the lake, we saw thunderheads forming and decided we needed to make our way back to Ohrid before it caught us. It was 5:00 anyways and we knew our kids would fall apart soon if they didn’t get a proper dinner. The water taxi came back for us and we made our way home. Dinner that night was very simple and satisfying, with a lot of veggies.

    The thunderstorm finally hit later that night with some pretty dramatic lightning across the water.

    Early morning reading In the “semi”-submarine Look, a tire! I think I see a sea snake! In the “semi”-submarine Atop the “semi”-submarine Max in the water taxi Water taxi to the beach Kids, what kids? Water taxi to the beach Dad with the nets guiding everyone home Evening fireworks Evening fireworks

    Sunday, August 20, 2023

    Sam and I walked into town to grab some donuts and sweet pastries for breakfast. We again did some schoolwork in the morning followed by lunch, but one in our midst was a bit emotional. Max couldn’t ask anything nicely without falling apart crying if he heard a no. Seeing that this wasn’t going to end unless we put a stop to it, Max and I stayed at home so that he could take a nap. We had had a long couple days and he needed some extra sleep. Sara and the other boys went to the beach to meet up with ouir friends again a little way down the shore.

    I got some work done while Max slept, and then when he woke up – in a much better mood – we made our way to the other kids at the beach. I rented a stand-up paddle board and took Ben and Sam out for a short trip each.

    We walked back to town together with our friends and said goodbye along the quay. Our trip to Skopje would begin tomorrow…

    Pastry breakfast Kids schooling Max napping Refreshed and ready to swim Walking home from the beach Walking home from the beach Saying goodbye to our new friends Petting the kitties Golden hour It’s just a matter of perspective