Our trip to Macedonia

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What a beautiful weekend we had !  Phil drove us from Tirana into Macedonia, without a map or GPS.  (I’m convinced he has an internal GPS inside that brain of his.)  As we entered into the old city of Ohrid, we were stunned at how different it was than any Albanian town we’ve visited.  The style of buildings was almost Bavarian.  And to our eyes, the landscaping was pristine.  We didn’t take photos of all the beautiful green grass and spring flowers, but we couldn’t stop talking about it while we were there.

Our first day, we immediately started to explore the ancient Orthodox churches, Sveti Jovan at Kaneo and Sveti Sofia, that date back to the 13th and 11th century.  They both are situated on the hillside overlooking the lake and snowcapped mountains – just gorgeous.  Then, we hiked to the top of the hill to enjoy Car Samoil’s Castle.  On our way, we picked up a little oil painting of one of the churches from a local painter for 5 euros.  Quite the steal !  Then, we headed back to the cute house where we were staying – it was right along the lake shore and we realized that we were the only guests.  Because it was Easter the owner’s extended family was staying in all the other rooms.  We think one of the aunts or uncles must have canceled and that’s how we got our room.

That night was Easter Eve, which we’ve already posted about.  It was a very memorable and special Easter for us.

The next day we took a boat ride to Sveti Naum – a monastery that dates back to 900 AD.  We did a little hiking in the woods around the monastery and we met a couple monks who were especially kind.  As I was trying to pay to enter one of the churches, one monk asked me if I was student – 3 times – he didn’t believe me when I said no and insisted on charging me only the student rate afterwhich he gave me a little gift (book marker) with a big smile on his face. There was something so genuine about his kindness.  I was so touched.

After taking the boat back to the old city, we ate some Mc Donald’s ice cream (we couldn’t resist) and roamed around, called our families and stayed up late to go out for a late late night dessert.  We aren’t night owls so going out at 11pm was a big deal for us.  But it was worth it — we went to the perfect restaurant where we suspect a couple had just gotten engaged and hired a traditional band to play all night long.  It was too much fun.  We ate some baklava, had a couple fun drinks, and stayed up as late as we could.

The next day we headed back home to Tirana.  We stopped for a picnic lunch with a few sheep (in the photo) and enjoyed the freedom of having a vehicle for a day.

It was a blessed Easter — God has given us more than we deserve – He has given us a beautiful new life – in His Son, Jesus Christ.  We are grateful beyond what we can express.

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