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July 7, 2002

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Lake Ohrid is the deepest one in the Balkans (294 m) and one of the oldest, but only geologists care. People come here because they enjoy swimming in the water, sunbathing on the grassy shores, and rubbing shoulders with the rest of Macedonia that considers this place to be the best vacation spot in the country. Over 30 cultural monuments, monasteries and Roman ruins from the days when Ohrid was a Byzantine religious center, dot the shores and add a diversion from the beaches.
Once an episcopal center of ancient Byzantium, Ohrid is now a resort town. A disciple of St. Cyril founded the first Slavic University here in 893 AD.
Ohrid's harborplace.
There's a cafe on every corner.
If you need a place to stay, knock on some doors. Chances are good that you'll be offered accommodation - most people rent out rooms for some extra cash.
After whiling away the morning in Ohrid, we left on a bus to Sveti Naim, a town at the border crossing with Albania. This border crossing turned out to be easier than going through the fast check-out line at the grocery store. The Macedonians stamped our passports quickly (even offered to let us leave without an exit stamp) and pointed us down the road to the Albanian side. We walked around the corner, enjoying a fine view of the lake in the no-man's land between Albania and Macedonia, before going through an easy customs check ($10 entry tax) into Albania. Immediately we see Albania is much less developed than Macedonia. Unfinished buildings line the streets of Pegrodec, Albania's lakeside equivalent to Ohrid. Much fewer restaurants and cafes offer food on this side of the border. Not needing to stay long here, we caught a bus to head deeper into Albania. Distances deceive here because the mountainous terrain impedes fast travel; it takes us almost four hours to travel 150 km. By evening we reached Albania's capital city, Tirana.