Saturday, August 16, 2014

Around Lake Ohrid - day five

Today's walk was relatively short - a mere four and a half kilometers along the lake's eastern shore. On the main highway, it should't have taken me more than an hour, but I've been avoiding highways as much as possible, and the path I ended up taking added an hour to the trip.

The scenic detour began When I reached the charming little beach town of Peshtani. At the end of the beachside sidewalk I saw a sign for "turist's street" and had to investigate since "turist" sometimes means hiker in Slavic languages.

The sidewalk turned to a small road which ended at a small set of staid to a beautiful resort beach. On the far side of the beach, past the hotel, the stacks of white lounge chairs, and the bungalows I found a narrow footpath.

The footpath was overgrown with brush and wound up and down around the base of some beautiful and impressive cliffs. I followed the trail through the trees and brush and past a dozen tiny pebble beaches, expecting it to end at any moment but finding that it just kept going. 

After nearly forty minutes of wading through brush and scrambling up and down tiny steep sections of trail, I suddenly came upon a small rubbish dump, and then a pier and cafe.

An old man approached me. He reminded me somehow of a retired Popeye with swollen cheeks and a small, weathered forehead.

"Rikhos" he said. "My name. Rikhos." He patted his chest as he delivered his introduction.

"Elizabeth" I replied. "Coffee?" Seeing no obvious way out of the bay this cafe was in, I figured some coffee was in order while I fished for information.

Macedonian music with a bouncy folk feel played on the radio. Rikhos conversed with me in a mixture of English, Macedonian, and Russian as I sipped my Turkish coffee. He understood that I was heading to gradishte and that I took the trail because I thought cars drove too fast the on the highway (he gave me a hearty handshake of agreement for that observation) and he made me understand that it was possible to get to gradishte if I wasn't afraid to get my feet wet. When i finished my coffee, rikhos led me down to the end of the pebble beach and then into the water, around some trees and a steep rock outcropping and then up onto some rocks where he showed me the short trail to the highway. I discovered later that if I had been able to swim around those rocks without getting my pack pack wet, I could have followed the beach to the camp. As it was I followed the highway to  the camp instead.

After registering and scouring the camping hill for a flat spit to set up my tent, I went back up the beach in search of a cave church. I love the cave churches around Ohrid. Usually quite tiny and elaborately painted, their intimacy and simplicity speak calm to my soul. This cave church sits on what is now a club beach, it's door mere steps from the umbrella topped wicker tables that furnish this particular beach club.

After visiting the cave church, I went to take a look at the Bay of the bones museum. Of all the places I've visited since moving to this part of the world, this is the best equipped for visitors.

The bay of bones is really more of a visitors' center than a museum. The recreation of a Bronze Age village built on a pier was really quite impressive. There are artifacts excavated from the bottom of the lake on display in the museum, and there are shaded picnic tables among the reconstructed ruins of a Roman fortress on the hill above the bay.

Tomorrow I have a longer walk down to St Naum near the border with Albania for my last night of camping. 

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