Full name: the Former yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.
Been there 3 times. Not easy to get there: Ohrid airport is only open in the summer and scheduled flights are unpredictable and unreliable. No trains to Ohrid, so you'd have to travel by car or bus.
A Dutch tour operator used to do package tours to Ohrid with charter flights, but the Ohrid Tourist Board tried to rip them off so they cancelled the destination entirely a few years ago.
An extremely beautiful region, the lake is huge: one shore is on the Macedonian side and the other in Albania.
I stayed in Both Ohrid and in St Naum, which is a place of pilgrimage. The old monastery is now in the courtyard of a "top" hotel, where I caught a milder form of Legionnaires disease. ;D
Positives: cheap, friendly, safe, very beautiful.
negatives: still suffers from a Communist hang-over: service and standards in most hotels are Stalinistic. Albanians cross the border at weekends and wreak havoc in the hotels, acting like total animals.
Hi Imec. The food is uninspiring at best, and at worst abominable.
Restaurant food is ok, but all the same: pretty much the (for me) dreaded "international cuisine". Hotel food can be really dreadful: in Ohrid at a 4 star hotel the food was like British hospital or prison food, and the same every day. On day 4 I had a massive tantrum in the dining room. The manager tried to hush me up by offering me alternative food and said I should report to him every evening for my special menu. This aroused the culinary ambitions of other guests, who stampeded with such uncontrolled passion and urgency that the terrified manager had to seek refuge in the kitchen. ;D
In St Naum, at the 'top' hotel, we'd booked full board because there were no other restaurants in the area. The menu looked ok, but everything we tried to order was "off the menu". No lamb, no fish, no beef, just grilled pork chops and grilled chicken breasts. None of the listed "local specialities" and no fresh vegetables, just salad--in fact I never saw fresh veg anywhere I ate. Seems they are all taking the easy route of salads and grilled meat, or the inevitable pizza or spaghetti or fast food.
OK, thanks betsie. But I guess what I'm REALLY asking is what is the "real" food like? My experience is that despite the crap served to tourists in hotels, the locals eat inspired food even in some of the poorer countries. I like to get out and eat what the local workers are eating and what they're taking home to their families at night. Somehow I imagine a place such as this to make great sausages and stewed meats and wonderful rustic breads - but then, as I say, I really do know nothing of this region.
Well I'm a 'foodie' and I always make it my business to seek out real food when I'm in a country, but I did not succeed in Macedonia, which is in fact not really a tourist place at all, most visitors being Albanians, Macedonians or Serbs.
Yugoslavia was not known for a great cuisine anyway, and no locals I talked to seemed to get what I what I was saying about the lousy food available to visitors.
The nearest I got to anything authentic was a few oven dishes in a small restaurant that prides itself on authetic food and was recommended to me by Macedonians. The food was ok, mainly mince or chicken in an eathenware casserole with onions, sweet peppers and cheese. Nothing to write home about. A real Macedonian breakfast consists of deep-fried salted doughnut things on which you pour watery yoghurt. Not particularly appetising.
PS: the sausages were horrible and there was no cheese worth bringing home with me.
The only time I've had food poisoning was many years ago in Yugoslavia. The food in the north of what was the country, in Slovenia, is quite acceptable. Mainly I suppose because of the influence of the surrounding countries. I do like the cake named potica and prekmurska gibanica.
And I got Legionnaires disease! Top hotel, fabulous spa, nobody had used it for days when I went in. I was sitting in the steam room thinking, "holy shit, I hope they flushed out the pipes with really hot water before they switched this on!"
Some days later I became very ill. The staff wanted my daughter to walk down a country lane for half an hour in the middle of the night to an army camp, to fetch me a doctor!
This hotel in Ohrid is really good, one of the few hotels with Western-trained management and standards. The food (international) is of good quality and the hotel and restaurant service is relaxed but excellent. Locals eat there on an evening out.
No activities really, Bixa. You can swim in the lake, or go boating. No fishing for trout because it's forbidden, Ohrid is on the UNESCO list and partly funded by them, so they have to stick to certain rules. But the Albanians don't care about rules, they fish the trout then cross the border and sell it to the Ohrid restaurants. ;D
Best thing to do is to hire a car and go up in the mountains. Or you can cross the border and see the glories of Albania if you're really adventurous. There you can see people lving in medieval conditions, have your pockets picked a few times and see the Albanian maffia bosses cruising like royalty in their chauffeur-driven limos. They really do run the whole country, it is no exaggeration. ;D