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Visiting Lake Ohrid, Macedonia (Travel Blog 2021)

We are a travel couple and we are traveling the world! We are currently in the Balkans. In this travel blog we talk about our time in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. There was a lockdown at the time, but we were still able to try traditional Macedonian food and explore hidden gems.






Handmade Paper⁣⁣



If you have done any amount of research on Lake Ohrid, you will hear about the Lake Ohrid Pearls. These are created with a process secret to a few families in the town. All we know is that they are made of fish scales instead of inside an oyster, muscle of clam. Something we didn't hear about until we were walking a back alley on our trip was the Lake Ohrid National Workshop for Handmade Paper⁣⁣.


This paper is made from the wood of trees such as oak, chestnut, cherry or walnut. To change the color of the paper, you choose a different tree. The wood is mixed in water and transferred to felt. Then a combination of cotton and linen is used in the drying process.


This process of paper making has been around since 15th Century and has been performed in Lake Ohrid since the 16th Century. You can watch a local create this paper from scratch inside of this workshop. On display here are parts of the Bible, hypocritical oaths for doctors, and pictures created with their paper. You can even buy cards and wall art as souvenirs; all made by hand!





Via Egnatia



Via Egnatia was a path that went from Durres, Albania to Constantinople. When people arrived in the Illyrian port from Italy or other parts of the Mediterranean this was the path that they took to reach modern day Istanbul. Throughout history Constantinople served as the capital for the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.


To the west of Lake Ohrid there is a small area of the Via Egnatia path and a small church. We though about going here before we arrived in Lake Ohrid; but we ran out of time. To our surprise there was not only a little path left of this historical road in the city of Lake Ohrid, but there was also a sign and map to show the route that ran through modern day Macedonia. There is even a monument next to the sign that mentions Emperor Caesar.




Biljana's Springs




Biljana's Springs is a very interesting place to visit in Lake Ohrid. You can get there along the highway or you can get there walking along Lake Ohrid and then taking a left. You walk along the canals on either side of you and you eventually arrive at the springs. One of the canals is called Channel Studenchishta. On that walk there are several colorful boats tied up and a lot of sports being played. We saw a soccer match, basketball being played and saw an out of use go kart track.


When you arrive at the springs there is a pirate ship looking boat and a lot of old artifacts. There is a rickshaw-type cart, wheelbarrow, and a larger carrier most likely for people. There was an antique looking store and a restaurant as well; but it was closed.



Food Scavenger Hunt



Have you ever done a socially-distant scavenger hunt for food? Even if you don't want to be indoors sitting around people this is still a great way to find new food and have an exciting time. ⁣When we were in Ohrid Macedonia we jotted down a list of traditional Macedonian foods we wanted to try on a sticky note. Then we went out to find them! ⁣


We had a time-limit impossed on us since everything shut down at 8 pm (20:00); which made it more challenging.⁣ For two weeks in Macedonia we were on lockdown. The first of those weeks was in Bitola and the second was in Lake Ohrid. Everything (even supermarkets and pharmacies) closed down at 8 pm (20:00). ⁣⁣


⁣But we found a lot of options available via take-away.⁣ ⁣ Not everything. But still a lot. And we were able to keep our social distance since we could not sit down inside restaurants. The dishes that we tried to find this week were:⁣⁣



Shopska Salad



This salad is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion/scallions, raw or roasted peppers, sirene (white brine cheese), and parsley. (This is also Bulgaria's most famous and national salad). (𝗪𝐢𝐥𝐥'𝐬 𝐅𝐚𝐯!)⁣ We got this salad at Tanja's National Eatery. This spot had a large area to eat inside but was also set up to easily order take-away food. Across a small alley road, still big enough for cars to fit, were a few benches to eat.


We met a friendly black cat and talked to a man who said some pretty crazy things; but he was not dangerous. This salad was served in a plastic container which was cool because it was still nicely prepared and we could see all of the layers through the clear plastic.


At this restaurant we also got Macedonian scrambled eggs which was an omelet with peppers, cheese, onions and tomatoes. This was not on our list, but it was breakfast time so we decided to try them and it was a delicious omelet.



Mućkalica



This is stew made of barbecued meat and vegetables. Its name is derived from mućkati, meaning "to shake, stir, mix". (Also a Serbian dish).⁣


We order one pot and the owner told us it would take 10 -15 minutes. That was fine for us because we still had plenty of day light. He served it to us in a clay pot and he gave us bread as a side and metal silverware. We just had to return the bowl when we were done. This was a really nice gesture considering it was only take-away.



Tavče gravče



This meal is beans, peppers, and seasoning baked and served in a traditional unglazed earthenware pot. It is considered the national dish of Macedonia. (𝐊𝐚𝐭𝐲'𝐬 𝐅𝐚𝐯!) We looked all around town for one of the most popular dishes and could not find it as take-away. Most restaurants were only serving grilled items and we were surprised at how hard it was to find the dish that every YouTuber enjoyed in Macedonia.


One of the bonus grilled items we tried was the cevapi, or as they call it in Macedonia, kebapi. This version of grilled sausages was the best we had in the Balkans. We got it at a restaurant called Gostivar and it was so good that we had to come back and get more the next day.


After looking all over the city, we returned to Tanja's National Eatery; where our hunt began to get this dish. It wasn't in the nice presentation as our Muckalica but was still tasty. It was served in the same type of plastic to-go container as the Shopska Salad instead of the traditional bowl it is usually served in.


Ajvar



A condiment made principally from red bell peppers, eggplants, and oil. The relish became a popular side dish throughout Yugoslavia after World War II.⁣ We went into one store and found a whole wall of this. In spicy and regular. To stay on the safe side we did not get the hot one.


We have seen people just dip bread into the Ajvar and have it for breakfast or for a snack. It is so good that it makes sense to do this. When we were in Serbia we saw this but we thought it was pre-made tomato sauce. So when we bought it we mixed it with pasta, which was really delicious!



Mekitsa




(plural: Mekici): This is made of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep fried. (Also a traditional Bulgarian dish).⁣ Not to be confused with a pancake, which is more like a crepe in this region. It was a large piece of fried dough like you could get a fair. It is usually served with cheese or a jam but this one was served alone. It would have been better with a topping and a little bit warmer.




Cherry Rakia



One of the most popular spirits found all over the Balkans but in Macedonia they have options with a cherry flavor.⁣ Everywhere we went we found raki; but it was usually the traditional grape flavor. Ohrid is famous for its cherries. We looked in a couple of locations for the cherry flavor but could not find it.


Randomly we went into a souvenir shop for the patches and stickers that we get in each country and the cashier said he had some raki. But it was not in a proper bottle. Instead he opened a Coca Cola bottle he had sitting being his desk, smelled it, and said "I think this is cherry." Then he said if we get a souvenir container he could give us some of the homemade Raki. So we found a cool liquid container with a red and yellow Macedonia flag on it and he poured the contents of his Coca Cola bottle into the souvenir container for us.


Not sure if it tasted like cherry; but it sure was strong!


You can see more of the hidden gems of Lake Ohrid in our travel vlog "Lake Ohrid Macedonia Hidden Gems 2021 Travel Vlog" on YouTube. Out now!


You can see more of our socially-distant scavenger hunt for food in our travel vlog "We tried Macedonian (Street) Food in Lake Ohrid Macedonia (Travel Vlog & Food Tour 2021)" on YouTube. Out now!


Thanks for reading our blog on Lake Ohrid Macedonia!


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