Makedonija – sunce i nasmijani ljudi
August 15, 2010  |  LIFESTYLE, Putovanja

“Skopje ima mikroklima, izgor leto kocan zima
gradski cigli goli brda, sino nebo, zemja tvrda
Maten Vardar brzo tece, tajni nosi, vreme vlece
Skopje pravi padni stani, ima devet luti rani
Skopje ima slavni mala -debar mala nije sala
Skopje java brzo konjce, a bre momce makedonce

Nasmevni se, ne beri gajle, namigni mi, ajde nazdravje, Skopje!”

Skopje, Leb i sol

Žuto makedonsko sunce dočekalo nas je osim u punoj snazi na nebu (termostat je pokazivao ugodnih 34 stupnja) također i na visokom barjaku na samom graničnom prijelazu. Ispred nas samo nekoliko automobila a mi optimistični jer smo srpsku granicu prošli bez zastoja za svega nekoliko minuta. Ni ovo neće biti predugo – razmišljamo  već dosta umorni nakon osmosatnog putovanja od Osijeka preko Vukovara i Šida autocestom do Beograda pa dalje na jug do Niša i same granice.

Ali avaj! – nakon 15-minutnog čekanja da nam carinik kroz prozorčić vrati putovnice shvaćamo da nešto nije u redu. Kompjutor nam ne radi – odgovara na naša pitanja – Morate čekati da se popravi. Ovo ne sluti na dobro, umor i vrućina uzimaju danak i mi na samom cilju postejemo jako nervozni. Nakon jednosatnog čekanja ipak nam vraćaju dokumente iako kompjutor nije “proradio”,  valjda ovo ne ostavlja dobru sliku za turizam pa nas ipak puštaju.

Ubrzo zaboravljamo čekanje i hitamo prema prvom odredištu u Makedoniji – glavnom gradu Skopju. Grad s oko 600.000 stanovnika podijeljen je geografski i politički (podsjetio me u tom smislu na Mostar) na “makedonski” i “albanski” dio. Danas stanovnici žive u miru iako je zadnjih desetljeća bilo i velikih nacionalnih problema.

Skopje je novoizgrađeni grad jer je 1963. godine uništen u velikom potresu koji je potpuno promijenio sudbinu grada.  26. srpnja 1963. u 5,17 grad je pogodio razoran potres a tome svjedoči i ura na staroj željezničkoj stanici koja se zaustavila u toj stravičnoj minuti. To je  jedna od rijetkih građevina koje su ga preživjele.

Pogled na grad s tvrđave Kale

Gradom protiče rijeka Vardar i dijeli ga na sjeverni i južni dio, a ponad nje dominira stara utvrda Kale, danas u fazi rekonstrukcije, s koje se pruža prekrasan pogled na grad. Desno, na najljepšem mjestu na brdu,  Američka ambasada koja podsjeća na bunker. Kažu, ukopana sedam katova.  Sad smo sigurni, kad su oni ovdje – šale se domaći.

Kameni most preko Vardara

Uz rijeku Vardar uz samu obalu puno gradilišta. Što se to gradi? – pitamo se. To naš premijer podilazi raji – šali se naš domaćin Žarko koji nam detaljno priča planove o modernizaciji grada. Ljuti se pomalo što osim u novo kazalište, zgradu vrhovnog suda, novo ministarstvo  ili još jedan mega-veliki spomenik nekom nacionalnom heroju ili svecu nije pronađeno novaca i za izgradnju cesta koje u Makedoniji nisu baš u najboljem stanju. On redovno putuje 180 km u pravcu Skopje-Ohrid i zna koliko bi nova autocesta značila za razvoj države.

Zgrada vlade

Priča nam o ekonomskoj situaciji. Prosječna plaća je viša od 300 eura ali to je malo napuhano zbog prevelikog velikog državnog aparata koji dobro živi – kaže. Ostali se teško bore na tržištu. Zapadna Makedonija je najrazvijeniji dio, a da bismo vidjeli težak život, treba otići u istočni dio države.

Dok Žarko priča o ekonomskoj situaciji mnoge nam stvari zvuče poznato – ništa se valjda ne nauči iz tuđih pogrješaka, moraš izgleda iz vlastitih. Čak i odnosi sa susjedima poznati – imali su problema i s Albanijom i Bugarskom, a s Grčkom spor oko imena još uvijek traje.

Glavni skopski trg

Kasnije će nam simpatična liječnica Sonja s Ohrida objasniti i stanje u zdravstvu. Jadan onaj koji se razboli – gorko-slatko se smije dok komentira stanje. Mi pripadamo nekom srednjom sloju ( i ona i muž su liječnici) al` narod živi loše – kaže. Razmišljali su i o odlasku iz zemlje, ali to je velika odluka na koju još nisu spremni. Sonja obožava Hrvatsku, najviše Zagreb.  – Kod vas i zrak drugačije miriši – smije se. Redovno gledamo vašu televiziju preko satelita, češće nego našu – govori mi na odličnom hrvatskom koji je među zadnjim generacijama učila u školi. Učila je doduše srpsko-hrvatski, ali televizija je pomogla da hrvatski priča danas odlično.

I Sonja je vesela i nasmijana, kao uostalom i većina ljudi s kojima smo kontaktirali. Ovo sunce djeluje tako na ljude, ali mora biti još  nešto razlog, jer imamo i mi sunce ali nismo ovako ljubazni i uvijek nasmijani – razmišljam, nadajući se da ću u ovih nekoliko dana otkriti njihovu tajnu.

U Skopju nas je, naravno, najviše privukla stara orijentalna čaršija gdje se osjeća da je Makedonija bila više od 500 godina pod Turcima. Djelomično je izbjegla razaranje i tu je sada centar noćnog života. Iako pripada albanskom dijelu grada, navečer svi mladi hrle ovamo, jer su tu kafići i najbolji ćevapi u gradu. Terase su pune iako je sredina tjedna i uskoro će ponoć. Čaršija za koju kažu da je najveća na Balkanu stara je preko tisuću godina i bila je poznato sjecište trgovačkih putova u koju su rado navraćali i stari Dubrovčani.

Iz brojnih čaršijskih čevabdžinica dopiru zamamni mirisi

U gradu je još uvijek sparno i zagušljivo, a mi smo se zadržali duže nego što je planirano. Napuštamo Skopje i vozimo dalje prema jugu na jezero u grad Ohrid gdje stižemo dobrano iza ponoći. Nadamo se da hotelska recepcija radi cijelu noć, pa usred smo turističke sezone, tješimo se.

Pogled na ohridsku čaršiju

Ujutro odmorni i spremni za nove podvige krećemo u istraživanje grada Ohrida. Vidi se da je tu turistička meka, grad je uredan, puno je trgovina i turista, da ne znam da sam na jezeru pomislila bih da sam na našoj obali, u Crikvenici možda. Tek stara gradska jezgra pod zaštitom UNESCO-a otkriva orijentalni duh grada. Stari grad je dobro očuvan. Spomenici sežu još od antičkog doba kao što je odlično sačuvano kazalište gdje se i danas održavaju razne predstave i koncerti.

Kazalište iz rimskog doba

Glavna trgovačka ulica

Visoko na brdu dominira tvrđava, a u gradu su brojne crkve koje svjedoče o dubokoj religioznosti naroda. Kažu da je nekada oko Ohrida bilo ravno čak 365 crkava, danas ih ima još 50-tak. Grad i njegova okolica sasvim opravdano nose naziv makedonski Jeruzalem. Grad je postao poznat u srednjem vijeku tijekom 9. i 10. stoljeća kada postaje centar slavenske pismenosti. Prvo sveučilište na Balkanu tada je osnovao sv. Kliment Ohridski, a tisuće učenika koji su se u njemu školovali širili su dalje pismenost i kulturu.

Ulaz u stari grad - čaršiju

Unutrašnjost gospodske kuće stare 150 godina, danas muzej

Pogled odmah privlače stropovi oslikani cvjetnim motivima

Tipična arhitektura u starom gradu

Našu pažnju u šetnji starim gradom privukla je i trgovina gdje se prodaju bakreni predmeti. Odmah uz prozor smjestio se majstor-umjetnik Marinov koji s jednim okom budno pazi što se na ulici događa, a drugim pazi da uredno nakvrcka ukrase na novom tanjuru. Priča nam da je on treća generacija koja radi s bakrom. Doduše, njegovi djed i pradjed su izrađivali i popravljali kazane za rakiju, ali danas se od toga ne može živjeti. Ima desetak godina da je počeo praviti nakit. Ispočetka na strojevima, ali ih je sve bacio i odlučio zaploviti nesigurnim umjetničkim vodama. Položio je nekoliko tečajeva čije diplome je ponosno objesio na zid i danas izrađuje osim nakita još i svjećnjake, lampe i satove te replike starog oružja.

Trgovina je prepuna zanimljivih predmeta

Bakreni ukrasi su i na fasadi

U Nacionalnoj radionici za stari papir mladi majstor objašnjava kako se nekada pravio papir

Tu je i replika gutenbergovog stroja, a za 50 kn možete kupiti i otiske starih biblija ili grafike

Uzdahe i užitak za sva čula bojom, zdravim izgledom i mirisom izazvala je ohridska zelena pijaca.

- Mama, što to tako fino miriše? – upitao me sin. – Dinje – kažem ja i čudim se što i naše tako ne mirišu. Dok se mi divimo povrću i voću (Vidi, ove lubenice imaju sigurno 20 kila! – sav oduševljen viče sin)  obratila nam se zgodna crnka: – Iz Hrvatske ste? – pita ljubazna piljarica na odličnom hrvatskom – imam ja rodbine u Zagrebu, dolaze k nama svako ljeto tu dolje na jug, mi smo iz Gevgelije.

- Ne, nisam bila skoro u Hrvatskoj,  zadnji put još prije rata. Ne možemo zbog zemlje, uzgajamo bostan, grožđe i zimski kupus. Posla ima cijele godine na zemlji,  a izvozimo i kod vas – odgovara nam nasmijana, dok guli i čisti od koštica dinju čijem mirisu na kraju nismo mogli odoljeti pa smo je zamolili da nam jednu razreže da je probamo.

Ah miline! Dinja nikada nije bila moje omiljeno voće, al` ova je k`o med – još da je bila hladna! Dok punih usta mljackamo i hvalimo okus, pozdravljamo gospođu i njenog muža i najavljujemo povratak u nedjelju ujutro da napunimo gepek u povratku kući.

Obilje voća i povrća

Na kraju smo kupili dvije lubenice – jednu od 11 i jednu od 17 kg, 4 dinje, nekoliko kila patlidžan-paradajza (taj najbolje rodi tu na jugu, kažu) i nekoliko kila pravog patlidžana.

Valjda nas neće carina gnjaviti – pribojavamo se, jer smo u povratku kod Leskovca u Srbiji kupili i dvije vreće paprike (crvene za ajvar i žute babure).

Osim betonskih klupa s povrćem i voćem  nađu se na pijaci, naravno, i štandovi s “drangulijama” – uvoz iz Kine i Turske, nema-čega -nema, pa i “originalnih” parfema po posebno povoljnim cijenama. Turistima to ne smeta – muvaju se okolo i cjenjkaju za sve, iako je ionako smiješno jeftino za naše prilike.

Makendonski novac su denari. Cijene povoljnije nego kod nas skoro duplo (ako ne i više) u nekim područjima. Noćenje s doručkom u odličnom hotelu s prostranim sobama i solidnim švedskim stolom 25 eura po osobi. Malo manje od toga smo plaćali privatni apartman u blizini Splita. Obilan ručak (predjelo, glavno jelo, desert, piće) za troje do 150 kuna. Ledena kava na ohridskoj rivi 8 kuna. Kilogram ovčjeg mekog sira u trgovini 25 kuna, lubenica na tržnici 2 kune, patlidžan srednje veličine komad 0,80 kuna.

Imali smo sreću da je Vlatko Stefanovski održavao koncert u Ohridu u poznatom beech clubu Cuba Libre gdje je uz veliku podršku publike izveo svoje najveće hitove: Jovano, Kao kakao, Skopje. Fenomenalne Vlatkove bravure na gitari rado smo poslušali i prizvali uspomene na neko prošlo doba kada su svi obožavali Leb i sol. I inače se u gradu tijekom ljeta održava puno kulturnih i glazbenih događanja, kao što i priliči najturističkijem mjestu u Makedoniji.

Riva u gradu Ohridu

Jedna od brojnih plaža

Glavni mamac za turiste je svakako samo Ohridsko jezero, jedno od najstarijih i nabistrijih tektonskih jezera na svijetu za koje biste, da ne znate, rekli da je more. Plavi se naime kao i Jadransko. Ohridska rivijera nije predugačka, 50-tak kilometara, ali ima puno uređenih i lijepih plaža, a voda je bistra i čista. Raj za ribe i čuvene ohridske pastrve, endemičnu i zaštićenu vrstu koja mijenja boju mesa od bijele do crvenkaste poput lososa tijekom godine. Danas je njen izlov zabranjen pa se uglavnom konzumira pastrva iz ribnjaka.

Ulaz u manastirski kompleks Sv. Naum nastao uglavnom u 15.st.

Gotovo svaki posjetitelj Ohridskog jezera zaputi se i do same granice s Albanijom gdje se na stijeni ponad mora smjestio jedan od najčuvenijih i najstarijih manastira – Sv. Naum. Manastirski kompleks danas je prilagođen turistima pa se u okviru njega nalazi i restoran i hotel, ali svejedno se u samoj crkvi u polumraku među freskama starim više od 1000 godina može osjetiti tajnovitost i mističnost Bizanta.

Crkva potječe iz 900. godine, a u njoj je Sv. Naum i pokopan

Unutrašnjost je bogato ukrašena freskama i ikonama

Stoljetne grede su oslikane crveno-zelenim motivima

Za strance je ulaz besplatan a domaći za nešto denara moraju kupiti svijeću koji odmah zapale

Turista ima iz cijelog svijeta, ovi su iz Poljske

Granica s Albanijom danas je otvorena, ali kako kaže čiča Jordan koji nas je do manastira provozao barkom, uglavnom Albanci dolaze k njima.  Godinama su tužno vojnici pogledavali dalekozorima na naumske plaže i kupače dok su čuvali albansku granicu u betonskim bunkerima kojih je bezbroj. Tako nam priča Jordan koji je cijeli život proveo kao čuvar turističkog kompleksa. Ne žali se na malu mirovinu, jer nešto se zaradi i vožnjom brodice. Sretan je da su mu djeca zdrava i imaju posao.

Kapetan barke Jordan koji svako ljeto prevozi turiste do manastira

U podnožu Sv. Nauma nalazi se i ulaz u Nacionalni park Galičica gdje je bajkoviti izvor rijeke Crni Drim. Drim izvire tek jedva kilometrar uzvodno i možete ga posjetiti jednino čamcima na vesla kojih ima nekoliko spremnih za turiste. Naš veslač je ujedno i vodič kroz park te nam je detaljno opisao sam krajolik.

Ulaz u nacionalni park

Rijeka me je svojom zeleno-tirkizno-plavom ljepotom i pješčanim dnom odmah podsjetila na naša Plitvička jezera. Izvora koji pune Crni Drim je bezbroj, a voda čak izvire i iz samog dna. Mjestimično možete vidjeti male pješčane vulkane iz kojih izlazi voda i koji kao da vriju na dnu rijeke. Činilo nam se da su nadohvat ruke, a bili su duboko i do tri metra, toliko je voda bistra. Ime “crni” Drim je dobio zahvaljujući endemskoj algi crne boje koja mjestimično pleše svoj zavodljivi ples na dnu rijeke.

Priroda u ljepoti ovdje nije škrtarila

Vodič-veslač strpljivo objašnjava i odgovara na naša brojna pitanja

Crni Drim je jako neobična rijeka koja ima dva ušća. Prvo je manje od 1 kilometra udaljeno od samog izvora podno planine do ulaska u Ohridsko jezero. Rijeka potom doslovno teče kroz cijelo jezero da bi opet iz njega izašla kod grada Struge. Konačno se Crni Drim spaja s Bijelim u Albaniji i ulijeva se u Jadransko more. Voda iz rijeke je puna vapnenca i iz nekog razloga ne miješa se s vodom iz jezera dok protječe kroz njega. Kažu da se iz aviona može lijepo vidjeti tok struje jezerom. Kod Struge Drim svom silinom opet izlazi iz jezera i postaje rijeka. Voda u rijeci ima stalnu temperaturu i ljeti i zimi oko 9 stupnjeva i nikada se ne ledi čak i kada su niže temperature u okolici pa park radi i zimi.

Autentični ohridski biseri s certifikatom

Pričati o Ohridskom jezeru i ne spomenuti čuvene ohridske bisere čini mi se  nedopustivim. Ako mislite da su to biseri koje se vade iz školjki, varate se, oni se zapravo rade od krljušti endemične ribe plašice. Svakih je nekoliko godina “berba” ove ribe od koje se zatim posebnim postupcima “kuhaju” biseri. Tajnu proizvodnje originalnih bisera iz jezera danas čuvaju  samo tri ohridske obitelji koje se tim poslom bave već stotinu godina. Jedna od njih je i obitelj Risteski koja ima svoj štand u okviru nacionalnog parka. Proces proizvodnje bisera se nekada ljubomorno čuvao pa ako jedna obitelj nije imala muškog nasljednika, zet se birao isključivo iz preostale dvije kako bi tajna ostala sačuvana.

Štand s biserima obitelji Risteski u NP

Teško se boriti protiv lažnjaka – priča nam naš vodič. – Danas vladaju biseri iz Kine i teško ih je razlikovati od naših koji se ipak prepoznaju po posebnoj težini svakog bisera.  Cijene nakita koji se najčešće kombinira sa srebrom nisu prevelike, za 40-50 eura može se naći lijepa biserna ogrlica što je ipak višestruko skuplje od onih “ohridskih bisera” s pijace.

Ponovno rađanje Crnog Drima iz jezera

Od mjesta u okolici Ohrida moram spomenuti grad Strugu, mjesto gdje Drim ponovo “izvire” iz jezera i koje je uz grad Ohrid najveće na jezeru. Uz samu obalu Drima smjestila se nepregledna kolona terasa gdje je uz prirodnu klimatizaciju od hladne rijeke ugodno popiti kavu i za najvećih podnevnih vrućina.

Iako je voda hladna mladi rado skaču s mosta. Nije da je baš kao mostarski, ali gledalaca uvijek ima...

U blizini Struge su i čuveni Vevčanski izvori udaljeni 20-tak kilometara. Vevčanska država, kako se domaćini vole šaliti, je malo makedonsko selo, enklava, u dijelu gdje živi albansko stanovništvo. Uz uređene staze uz cijeli splet izvora, potoka i potočića u hladu šume ugodno je provesti sat vremena, a poslije posjetiti jedan od dva odlična etno-restorana u selu.

vevčani

Radi ovog restorana se dolazi i iz 25 km udaljenog Ohrida

Mi smo po preporuci posjetili “Domaćinsku kuću” u kojoj se spravljaju, a što drugo,  domaći specijaliteti. Najviše nas je oduševila salata kojom se u Makedoniji počinje jelo, za razliku od nas gdje je to tradicionalno juha. Uz svježu rajčicu, papriku (obavezno ljutu i slatku), luk, kupus, masline i krastavce nudi se i svježi meki bijeli sir od kravljeg ili miješanog kravljeg i ovčjeg mlijeka. To su sirevi koji se pripremaju u Makedoniji od davnina. Tvrdi sirevi nisu baš tradicija i često ih zovu jednostavno “žuti sir”. Mene je najviše dojmio domaći pinđur i torta (musaka) od patliđana. Nasmijani i ljubazni konobar Krste nam je preporučio i kućno, sasvim solidno, vino temjaniku koje uz ostale namirnice pripremaju vlasnici objekta. Stanovnici sela pokušavaju, za sada u začecima, oživjeti Vevčane seoskim turizmom i nadam se da će u tome uspjeti.

Ovo je tek makedonsko predjelo

Tikveška vinarija ima navodno novog vlasnika koji je osim u kvantitet konačno odlučio ozbiljnije ulagati i u kvalitet vina.

Ona izreka da svemu lijepom brzo dođe kraj,  zaista je istinita, tako je i naš boravak u Makedoniji prošao u trenu. Napuštamo Ohrid, a pred nama u povratku prema Skopju je još jedna planirana destinacija - Mavrovsko jezero.

Za razliku od Ohridskog, ono je umjetno jezero nastalo prije 50-tak godina izgradnjom brane za potrebe hidrocentrale. Smješteno visoko u brdima na visini od oko 1200 m pogodovalo je razvoju turizma pa je sada tu centar zimskog turizma. Tu su smješteni brojni hoteli i vikendice i uređene su skijaške staze. Čuli smo da je pogled s vrha planine Bistre na 1800 m upravo spektakularan pa smo se poželjeli žičarom popeti na sam vrh. Nažalost, ovaj put nismo bili sretne ruke. Kako nam je objasnio ljubazni recepcioner hotela (koji usput-budi-rečeno prati našu nogometnu ligu), ove se godine za razliku od prošle žičara uključuje samo za veće grupe turista uz prethodnu najavu upravi. Našu malu tročlanu ekspediciju teško je nazvati “većom” pa smo pomalo razočarani napustili selo Mavrovo. Utješili smo se odličnom kavom i divnim pogledom s terase hotela na samo jezero. Nekoliko dana kasnije u Jutarnjem čitam da je i “bjegunac” Lino Červar ovdje na pripremama sa svojim novim klubom.

Pomalo jezu izaziva ova potopljena crkva u Mavrovskom jezeru

Dok smo napuštali Makedoniju, pokušavala sam konačno dokučiti tajnu vedrog raspoloženja i osmjeha kojim ovaj narod nagrađuje slučajne prolaznike. Nisam uspjela do kraja shvatiti, možda naprosto nisu izgubili vjeru u bolje sutra?

Leb i sol – Jovano Jovanke

Macedonia – the sun and smiling people

 

The yellow Macedonian sun welcomed us, not only in its full power in the sky (the thermostat was showing 34degrees) but also at the high set flag on the border itself. There were only a few cars in front of us and we were hopeful since we had passed the Serbian border in only a few minutes, without any delay. “This won` t last too long, either” – thought we, quite tired already after the eight-hour long trip along the highway, all the way from Osijek to Belgrade, across Vukovar and Sid, and then to the south, to Nis and the border itself.

But alas! – having waited for 15 minutes for the customs official to give us our passports back, we realized that something was wrong. “The computer is out of order”, he answered. “You`ll have to wait for it to be repaired”. This didn`t seem to be promising at all and since tiredness and heat overwhelmed us, we became very nervous in the end. However, after an hour of waiting, they returned our documents, although the computer hadn`t been activated again. This didn`t seem to leave a good impression of their tourism so they let us go anyway.

Pretty soon, we forgot about our waiting and rushed towards the first destination in Macedonia – towards its capital, Skopje. The town of about 600 000 residents is divided geographically and politically – into “Macedonian” and “Albanian” part (it reminded me of Mostar, in that sense). Today, its residents live in peace despite of the big national problems during the past decades.

Skopje is a brand new town because the old one was destroyed during the big earthquake in 1963, when the destiny of the town completely changed. On July 26th, 1963 the town was hit by a destructive earthquake at 5.17, and the clock at the old railway station gives evidence to this, since it stopped working at that horrible minute. That`s one of a few buildings which has survived the earthquake

The river Vardar runs through the town and divides it into the north and south part, and above it there is the Fortress of Kale, which is being reconstructed today, but which offers a wonderful sight. On the right, at the most beautiful place on the hill, there is the American Embassy, reminding of a bin. It is said to have seven floors dug in the ground. “We are safe now, having them here,” the locals made jokes about it.

Along the coast of the river Vardar there are a lot of building sites. We were wondering what was being built in such an extent. “That`s only our Prime minister ingratiating the mass,” our host Žarko joked with us before telling us in details the plans on the modernization of the town. He was a little bit offended because the government gave money for the new theatre, the Supreme Court building, the new Ministry and a very big monument to a national hero or a saint but there wasn`t any money left for the roads in Macedonia, which aren`t in a good state at all. He travels regularly for 180 km in the direction Skopje – Ohrid and is aware of how much a new highway would mean to the development of the country.

He told us about the economic situation. The average salary is more than 300 € but that`s a bit exceeded because of a much too big state apparatus with a high standard of living. The others struggle hard for the existence at the market. The western Macedonia is the most developed part but in order to have a look at the hard way of living, we should visit the eastern part of the country.

While Žarko was telling us about the economic situation a lot of things sounded familiar to us – nothing can be taught from someone else`s mistakes, one should learn from one`s own. Even the relations with the neighbours seemed familiar – they were having problems both with Albania and Bulgaria, and the legal dispute with Greece over its name is still ongoing.

Somewhat later, a kind doctor from Ohrid, Sonja, told us about the state of health care. “Unfortunate are those who are sick”, she commented with a bitter, sweet smile. “We belong to a kind of a middle class”, she said (both she and her husband are doctors), “but people live poorly.” They have been talking about leaving the country, but that was a big decision which they still weren`t ready for. Sonja adores Croatia, especially Zagreb. “Even the air smells differently there”, she laughed. “We follow the Croatian TV programs on satellite, more often than Macedonian ones”, she said in excellent Croatian language, which she had learnt among the last generations at school. Actually, she was learning Serbo-Croatian but the television helped her speak Croatian fluently today.

Sonja was cheerful and smiling, just as the majority of people whom we`ve had conversation with. The sun does this to people there, but there should be some other reasons as well, because we, ourselves, have the same sun but aren`t so much kind and aren`t always smiling. I was hoping to find out what their secret was in a couple of the following days.

What attracted us in Skopje most of all, was, naturally, the old oriental bazaar downtown, where we could sense that Macedonia had been under the Turks for more than 500 years. The bazaar has partly avoided destruction and that`s where the center of night life is now. Although it belongs to the Albanian part of the town, the young rush to it at night since there are lots of cafes there and the best kebabs in the whole town. The café terraces were full of people although we were there in the middle of the week and at midnight almost. The bazaar in the old town, which is considered to be the biggest in the Balkans, is over one thousand years old. It was a popular intersection of the trade routes and was willingly visited by the residents of the old Dubrovnik as well.

It was still steamy and stuffy in the town but we stayed longer than it was planned. We left Skopje and drove on to the south to the lake in the town of Ohrid where we arrived somewhat after midnight. We hoped that there was someone working at the hotel reception desk and we comforted each other knowing that it was the middle of the tourist season.

The next morning, relaxed and ready for new feats, we set off to investigate the town of Ohrid. It was evident that this was the center of the tourism, the town was tidy, there were a lot of tourists; if I weren’t aware that I was on the lake I would think that I was on the coast of Crikvenica perhaps (in Croatia). Only the old cores under the protection of UNESCO, reveal the oriental spirit of the town. The old town is well kept. The monuments are from ancient times and the theater is very well preserved and various performances and concerts are being held nowadays.

High up, there is the fortress dominating in the hills and downtown there are a lot of churches which affirm a deep religiosity of people. There were exactly 365 churches surrounding the town of Ohrid, and today there are about 50 more. The town and its surroundings are quite justifiably called the Macedonian Jerusalem. The town became known in the middle ages during the 9th and 10th century when it became the center of the Slavic literacy. The first University in the Balkans was then founded by Saint Climent from Ohrid, and thousands of students who were attending it continued spreading literacy and culture further on.

While having a walk through the old town, we were also attracted by a store where copper products were being sold. Marinov, the artist, was standing right next to the window, keeping with one eye a good look at everything going on in the street and using the other to decorate a new plate. He told us that he belonged to the third generation working with copper in his family. However, his grandfather and great-grandfather were producing and mending the caldrons for brandy, but it was impossible to make a living out of it nowadays. He had been making jewellery for the last ten years. At first, he used the machines but then he threw them all away and decided to start sailing in the unreliable artistic waters. He had passed a few courses and he proudly hung the diplomas on the wall. Today, except for the jewellery, he produces candle-sticks, lamps, watches and specimen of some old weapons.

The green market in Ohrid aroused moans and pleasure of all the senses due to the colours, freshness and scent of its products.

“Mum, what is it that smells so nicely?” – my son asked.

„The melons“ – I said while I was wondering why they smelled so strongly here in Macedonia.

While we were admiring vegetables and fruit („Look, these watermelons must be 20 kilos heavy!“ – yelled my son in raptures), a good-looking brunette spoke to us: – „Are you from Croatia?“ – a polite seller asked us in fluent Croatian – „I have some relatives in Zagreb, they visit us down here every summer, we are from Gevgelija“.

-„No, I haven`t been to Croatia recently, the last time was before the war. We cannot go because of the soil, we grow the melons, grapes and cabbage. We have to till the soil all year round and we export them to you, too“ – she told us smilingly, while she was peeling and taking away the stones from a melon which we couldn`t resist so we asked her kindly to cut it in pieces so that we could try it out.

What a sweetness! Melon has never been my favourite fruit but this one was as sweet as honey – if only it were cold, too! As we were munching mouth fully and praising the taste of it, we said goodbye to the lady and her husband but announced that we were going to come back on Sunday morning to load up the trunk of our car on our way home.

In the end we bought two watermelons – one was 11 and the other 17 kg heavy, four melons, several kilos of tomatoes (they are said to be the best here in the south) and a few kilos of aubergine.

We supposed that the customs service won`t bother us – we feared a bit because we also bought two sacks of paprika (the red ones for aivar and the yellow bell peppers) while we, on our way back, passed near Leskovac in Serbia.

Except for the concrete benches with vegetables and fruit at the market, there were also the benches with „a bit of everything“ – the import from China and Turkey, nothing was missing, there were even „the original „ perfumes at specially low prices.

The tourists didn’t mind – they were buzzing around and bargaining for everything, although it was all very cheap, even for us from Croatia, and especially for those from the other countries.

The currency in Macedonia is the denar. The prices at some places are twice cheaper than in Croatia (if not even more). The overnight stay with breakfast and solid buffet in a splendid hotel with broad rooms costs 25 € per person. We have paid a bit less for a private apartment near Split. Profuse lunch (side dish, the main meal, dessert, beverages) for three persons cost 150 kuna. We paid 8 kuna for cold coffee at the Riviere of Ohrid. One kilo of soft sheep cheese in a store cost 25 kuna, the watermelon at the market cost 2 kuna, one aubergine of medium size cost 0.80 kuna.

We were lucky to be there when Vlatko Stefanovski was holding a concert in Ohrid in “Cuba Libre”, the famous beach club, where, backed up by the audience, he sang his greatest hits: Jovano, Kao kakao, Skopje. We were gladly listening to Vlatko`s great guitar performance and recalling the memories of a past time when everyone loved the ex-YU pop group “Leb i sol“. Anyway, there are lots of cultural and musical events in the town during the summer, just as it should be in the most visited tourist place in Macedonia.

The main bait for the tourists is, certainly, lake Ohrid itself, which is one of the oldest and clearest tectonic lakes in the world and which, if you weren`t acquainted, you would believe to be the sea. It is, namely, as blue as the Adriatic. The riviere of Ohrid isn`t too long, about 50 km, but there are a lot of touristically arranged and beatiful beaches and the water is clear and clean. It is a paradise for fish and well-known trout from Ohrid, which is an endemic and protected species changing the colour of its flesh during the year, from white to reddish, just like a salmon. Today it is forbidden to fish it so people, as a matter of fact, consume the trout from the pond.

Almost every visitor of lake Ohrid sets out to the very border with Albania, where the Monastery of Saint Naum, one of the oldest and most famous monasteries, is situated on a big rock by the water. The monastery complex is adjusted to the tourists so there is a restaurant and a hotel within its borders, but anyway, even in the church itself, in the dark, among the murals which are over 1000 years old, one might feel the secrecy and mystic of Byzantium.

The border with Albania is open today, but the Albanians are those who come mostly, told us an old man, called Jordan, who carried us over to the monastery in a wherry. Through spy-glasses, the soldiers have been sadly observing the beaches of Naum and the swimmers, as well, while they were guarding the Albanian border from the numerous concrete military bunkers. So were we told by Jordan, who has been working as a tourist complex guard all of his life. He wasn`t complaining about his small pension, because he earned some more money by boat cruising. He was happy to have his children safe and sound and to know that they were employed.

At the base of the St. Naum there is the entrance to the Galičice National park , where there is the beautiful spring of the river Black Drin. The Drin springs up a kilometer upstream, and it can be visited by rowing boats only, a few of which are always ready for the tourists. Our rower was, at the same time, our guide through the park so he described to us in details the area itself.

The greenish and turquoise beauty of the river and its sandy bottom reminded me at once of the Plitvice lake in Croatia. There are a lot of sources which fill up the Black Drin and the water even springs up from the bottom itself. Sometimes it is possible to see small sandy volcanoes with the water springing up and they seem to boil at the bottom of the river. The clearness of the water made us think that they were within reach but they were actually up to three meters deep. It got its name “black” Drin thanks to the endemic alga in black colour which dances its alluring dance from time to time at the bottom of the river.

The Black Drin is a very extraordinary river with two junctions. The first one is less than one kilometer far from the spring itself, below the mountain, to the entry to lake Ohrid. The river then literally flows through the whole lake and then flows out of it near the town of Struga. Finally, the Black Drin joins the White Drin in Albania and flows into the Adriatic sea. The water from the river is full of limestone and, for some reason, it doesn`t mix with the water from the lake while running through it. The flow of the stream in the lake can be seen finely from an airplane. Near Struga, the Drin flows out of the lake intensively and turns into the river again. The water in the river has the same temperature both in the summer and the winter, about 9 degrees, and it never freezes, not even at lower temperatures in the surroundings, so the park is open during the winter, as well.

Talking about lake Ohrid without mentioning the famous Ohrid pearls would be intolerable. If you think that those are the pearls brought out from the shells, then you are wrong, because these pearls are actually made from the scales of endemic local fish called “plashica”. These fish are caught every few years and special techniques are used for “cooking” of pearls– every grain of pearl is smeared by special emulsion. The secret of manufacturing of the original pearls from the lake is kept by three families in Ohrid who have been in this business for a hundred of years. One of them is the Risteski family who have their bench at the National park. The process of pearls production was being jealously hidden at earlier times so if one of the three families didn’t have a male heir, the son-in-law was being strictly chosen from the other two families so that the secret would stay hidden.

“It`s hard to fight against the fake ones”, our guide told us. There are pearls from China at the market nowadays and it`s hard to distinguish them from ours although our pearls might be recognized due to special weight of each pearl. The prices of the jewellery which is usually combined with silver aren`t too high, so a nice pearl necklace might be bought for 40 -50 € which is still multiply more expensive than “the Ohrid pearls” from the market.

Of all the places in the surroundings of Ohrid, I must single out and mention the town of Struga, the place where the Drin “springs up” from the lake again and which, besides Ohrid, is the biggest town along the lake. Along the coast of the Drin there are numerous café terraces where it is enjoyable to have a cup of coffee with the natural air conditioning of the cold river even during the greatest midday heat.

In the vicinity of Struga there are the springs in Vevčani which are 20 kilometers far away. The Republic of Vevčani, as the locals call it, is a small Macedonian village, the enclave, in the part where the Albanian population is. It is pleasant to spend an hour taking a walk in the shade of the forest on the arranged pathways along the whole chain of springs, streams and bourns and afterwards visit one of the two excellent ethno restaurants in the village.

Upon recommendation we visited „The host house“ where, what else than, the domestic specialities are made. We were mostly enchanted with the salad which the Macedonians start their meals with, in contrast to us, from the neighbouring countries, who have the traditional soup first. Besides fresh tomato, pepper (by all means cayenne pepper and green pepper), onion, cabbage, olives and cucumber, there is also fresh cottage cheese made of cow milk or of mixed cow and sheep milk. Those are kinds of cheese which have been made in Macedonia from the ancient times. Hard cheese isn`t exactly traditional and people simply call it “yellow cheese“. I, myself, was mostly impressed by homemade pindjur and the cake (musaka) of aubergine. Krste, the smiling and kind waiter, recommended us domestic, quite solid vine Temjanika which is prepared by the owners of the restaurant, just like the other foodstuff. The residents of this village stared trying to revive Vevčani with village tourism and I hope that they will succeed in it.

The saying that everything that`s nice comes to an end quickly, is true, and so did our visit to Macedonia elapse in a whisk. We left Ohrid and had one more planned destination on our way back towards Skopje – lake Mavrovo.

In contrast to lake Ohrid, this is an artificial lake which arose some 50 years ago when a dam was built for the purpose of hydroelectric power station. Set high up in the hills at the height of 1200m, it contributed to the development of tourism so that`s where the center of winter tourism is now. There are a lot of hotels and cottages there and ski paths are set. We have heard that the view from the top of the mountain Bistra at 1800m was truly spectacular, so we wished to climb up to the top by cableway. Unfortunately, we weren`t lucky this time. As a kind hotel receptionist (who, by the way, was observing Croatian football team) explained to us that unlike the last year, this year the cableway was being activated for the larger groups of tourists with previous announcement to the management. Our small three member expedition could hardly be considered as “a large one“ so we were a bit disappointed when leaving the village of Mavrovo. We found comfort in delicious coffee and a wonderful view upon the lake from the hotel terrace. A few days later in the morning papers I read that „the deserter“, Lino Čerdar, was having preparations here with his new club.

While we were leaving Macedonia, I was trying to finally find out the secret of good humour and smiles that these people rewarded the occasional passers-by with. I couldn`t grasp it until the very end, maybe they simply haven`t lost faith into a better tomorrow?

 

O autoruMaja Zovko je urednica Prozora u dom. Zanimaju je rustikalni prostori, dizajn interijera i hand-made proizvodi.

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21 Comments


  1. Hvala, Maja, što si nam približila ovu krasnu zemlju. Odavno je želim posjetiti, ali još nisam. Priču si započela i završila mojim omiljenim Leb i Solom, tj. Vlatkom Stefanovskim.
    Što se tiče crvenih makedonskih paprika – roga, nadam se da su došle do Osijeka! Uskoro ću objaviti recept za njih! Može li? Od prave Makedonke! :lol:

  2. Odličan putopis, Majo, pročitala sam ga u dahu. Učinio mi se prevelik, ali sad bih rado čitala da je još ovoliki. Slike dobre, dojmovi vjerno preneseni, kao da sam i sama s tobom putovala.
    Žao mi je što nikad nisam posjetila nekadašnju prijateljicu u Ohridu, sad sam joj izgubila svaki trag.

  3. Majo, pravi putopis, sveobuhvatan, zanimljiv, za svakoga, a približava današnju Makedoniju prepletenu s onom nam poznatom. Sve si obuhvatila, ili barem dotaknula: ljude, običaje, graditeljstvo, povijest, duhovnost, jezik, govor, kulinarstvo, mnoštvo preporuka i ocjena što bi valjalo vidjeti ili kušati – a jednostavno i jezgrovito opisano te potkrijepljeno fotografijama pomno odabranim. Nije predugačko, nego bih još čitala. Bravo!

  4. izvrstan putopis, zadnji put sam bija prije pet godina…preko crne gore i kosova…nezaboravno…ali ovo tvoje putovanje je mala encikolopedije u slikama i prići…fala…

  5. odlično! stvarno si si dala truda..lijepo napisano, dosta informacija…fotke super… :)

  6. Bravo Maja, zovem se Aleksandar, iz Makedonije sam a radim u Svajcarsku pa sam do sada citao tvoje lepe reci o Makedoniji, pravo da ti kazem…do sada nisam nista lepse procitao o mojoj zemlji, DA SI ZIVA I ZDRAVA I SE NAJDOBRO(na makedonski) Veeeeeeeliki pozdrav od srca!!!

  7. makedonija je prekrasna zemlja, a ljudi su predivni. sve je tako prirodno, gostoljubivo usprkos svim problemima današnjice. nigdje se nisam tako dobro osjećao kao u makedoniji. otkako sam prvi put stupio na tlo makedonije jednostavno nešto me stalno vuče natrag pa sam i ovog proljeća bio u skopju i ohridu. dok ovo čitam, opet sam poželio otići. jednostavno, to je božansko mjesto gdje se dobronamjerne osobe dobro osjećaju

  8. pozdrav!
    baš mi je drago kada sam ugledala ovu stranicu!!! čini mi se da smo morali biti negdje u isto vrijeme u makedoniji, na ohridu!! osim na ohridu, bila sam i u prilepu i kruševu!
    prvi put sam posjetila makedoniju i zbilja je predivna, oduševljena sam ljudima, njihovom vedrinom i osmjesima koje i ti spominješ!!
    svima bi preporučila da posjete zemlju u kojoj vječno sunce sja!!

  9. Prilep je grad gdje sam jela najbolji roštilj, skara kako ga oni zovu, po tome je Prilep i poznat. Ako se slučajno ponovno uputiš prema Makekedoniji posjeti ribnjak Babino, od Prilepa 40 min vožnje. Hrana je super, a imaju i mini zoološki! Kruševo je slatki mali gradić, ali smo se tamo uputili najviše zbog toga da posjetimo Tošetov grob.
    Inače, tvoj mi je putopis lijepo objašnjen i jako mi se sviđa!
    Veliki pozdrav!

  10. zaklia kuzmanovska

    makedonija e naj toplata i naj gostoprimliva zemja ima mnogu sto da se vidi od vremeto na Aleksandar Makedonski pa se do denes posetete ja ke vi ostavi vpecatoci za cel zivot obicno nie makedoncite imame edna pogovorka ,, koj dosol ne posol,, t.e.koj ke dojde tesko mu e da zamine od vakva zemja pozdrav:))))))

  11. Osjećao sam se kao da mi curi sok od lubenice niz bradu dok sam čitao putopis. Jošššš.

  12. Bravo, preubavo. Jas sum Makedonka, pa koga imate vreme dojdete pak vo nasata mala, no ubava Makedonija. Mozete da gi posetite Dojran, Strumica, Bitola i drugite ubavi gradovi, mnogu restorani,ribnici, ezerca i slicno. Pozdrav od srce.

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