Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Macedonia, then Greece

We spent a relaxing day in Ohrid on the lake with the clearest water you can imagine. It's a very touristic place, but the high season is over, so it was quiet and nice. Many terraces of course, and souvenirshops, but the historic qualities of the place are very much in shape.
We stayed in a room in Emile and Sandra Jovanovice's house. A simple room, with a simple shared bathroom, but so cosy and nice. A place to feel really at home.
The day after that we rode to Bitola, they say the cultural capital of Macedonia. Here we slept in an old mansion house, now a private house combined with a 3-room guesthouse. Perfect again, only a 10 minutes' walk away from the centre. Here there were some mosques, a clock tower, a covered bazaar and an app. 800 meter long shopping street that for 80% is used for terraces for the numerous bars, restaurants and cafés. The Macedonians really like to hang out. Even in the early morning, just after 8 o'clock, when we were in the street to change our unused denars into euros again, there were already people having their coffees there.
Having got rid of the elsewhere useless Macedonian Denars we left the town in southerly direction. Within a kilometer we stopped for a visit to an archelological site, Heraclea Lyncestis. Remains of buildings from Greek, Roman and Byzantine origin. Sixteen km further we reached the border with Greece. We entered a region with only a few settlements and not much activity to be noticed. When we stopped for a coffee at the first bar we saw after a couple of hours, it appeared to be closed. But the owner, who had worked in Germany for 14 years, didn't mind a chat apparently. He offered us a frappé. This is the cold coffee that is very popular in these regions. Nescafé, with or without milk and sugar, is beaten up with a little mixer, ice cubes and water are added and that's it. The locals can sip hours on one, the barman said, and it was going to give us energy enough to reach Thessaloniki. We had an interesting chat about all matters, including the euro crises. “If our politicians would give back what they have stolen from us, there would not be any problem”. He felt that the ordinary man now had to pay for the debts caused by the politicians. And not untrue, since f.i. VAT is raised to 23%, even for food. Only water is exempt from this high tariff.
We left without having to pay, he wouldn't allow us. Just half an hour later we were waved into an orchard, where we had to eat pears right from the tree and from where we couldn't leave without a plastic bag full of the delicious fruit. After 110 k we ended our day in beautiful Edessa, in a simple but good and cheap hotel. In the evening we had to flee from a terrace (of which there were a lot again) because of a thunderstorm, the first rain in 4 months.
Today we continued to Thessaloniki. Not a nice cycling day, as there was no real alternative for a busy main road. The Greeks build new roads for cars just over the old ones, leaving no escape for other vehicles. They say that Thessaloniki is the record holder as to the number of bars, cafés and terraces. We'll see tomorrow. But, as a German cyclist who we met told us when he descibed this phenomena said: “Die Griechen sind pleite, aber sie feiern!” So we suppose it'll be true.


  1. Hi Frans and Eveline,

    Please explain to us, followers, how you manage to find nice hotels and pensions every day. Did you give up camping inspite of the nice weather?
    Have a nice time in Thessaloniki where I was in the nineties for a European match.

    Best regards, Ronald (still hard working)

  2. For the requested explanation, please read the next post.