Ohrid – the Cinderella Town

Posted by on 6, Jun 2010 in 2010 - The Caucasus, Balkans, Europe, Macedonia

Ohrid – the Cinderella Town

Lake Ohrid is another UNESCO site being one of the oldest lakes in the world. The town of the same name also a UNESCO site, has a large dominant castle overlooking the dozens of bars restaurants and Yarmouth sea side tack shops heaving with thousands and thousands of people. The walk up the hill to the fortress weaves it way past exquisite churches, a roman theatre and a large excavation of a byzantine church and by the time you reach the summit the number of visitors could fit in a mini bus. It crossed our minds that many of the visitors to Orhid may not even know of the existence of the castle let alone have visited, preferring instead the unrelenting thud thud thud of karaokes and piped music to the wonderful views from the castle walls.

Orhid is picturesque, quaint and full of charm but it is teetering on the edge of becoming another Benidorm. It seems keen on driving away tourists attracted by history and culture and replacing them with the party people. The cruise boats lined up on the quay play thumping music to attract customers and the castle itself is the last refuge safe from the incessant disco beat.

Cycling down the shore a few kilometres we found a lovely cafe with decking out into the water and comfy sofas to lounge on under sun shades. Even here the cafe music was inaudible because of the music from Orhid.

Our cycle from our camp to Ohrid and back was 45km and a lovely ride even if we only managed to cycle halfway up to the castle and to walk the rest of the way! Most of the ride is on pavements or minor roads and despite the mountains that circle the lake flat.

Even at night 10 miles away across the lake in our beautiful campsite on the edge of the water the disco boats keep up the noise till well past midnight and even with Battlestar Galactica on our tv we could still clearly hear it.

Despite the noise we eventually spent 4 nights on our tiny camp. The party nights Friday and Saturday gave way to a silent Sunday and Monday and in any case we have a wonderful bedroom air con unit that uses hardly any battery and allows us to keep Taffy buttoned up on noisey nights and still get a good nights sleep.

Ohrid appears to have made its choice with tourists though, and you can’t help but wonder if it is the right one. Competing with seaside resorts is cyclical as the Costas will testify as their visitors have switched from Spain to Turkey. The huge advantage Orchid has is its heritage and nature and if it drives visitors away who come for this reason it will find it difficult to survive when the party people decide Albania or wherever is the new cheap party place to visit.

Despite this we liked Orhid though if we visit again we’ll avoid the summer or leave well before midnight.

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