duminică, 31 iulie 2011

Day #3, part #2, Macedonia (Ohrid's Monasteries)

There was more about Ohrid than the clean and sparkling water: the monasteries.

We approached them by the water, of course...

The first one was St. John Kaneo church, built in 13th c. – most known for its scenic location, standing on a cliff over Lake Ohrid. 

Notable about the architecture is Armenian influence in the zig-zag line of the roof of the dome.

This is the view that made us come here in the first place. 

St.Pantelejmon – Plaoshnik - It has been very important religious center since early Christian times, if not before. It is the site of the first university in Europe, opened in the 10th c. and it is the place where the cyrillic alphabet was created.

The church you see is a reconstruction of the church St.Klement built when he came here and opened the university.

Some interesting frescoes beautifully decorated, kept in the open air.

The houses in Ohrid are highly decorated... with flowers.

The last monastery viewed yesterday, before we passed out: St. Bogorodica Perivlepta 13th c. - The church was built and painted in 1295. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, Perivlepta (from [[Greek] Περίβλεπτος]] is a attribute given to her meaning "the Omnisicent and Clairvoyant". The painters who decorated this monastery, Mihailo and Evtihie, are the first Byzantine artists to sign their work. 
Another interesting fact: the figures painted by Michael and Eutychius are not presented the traditional Byzantine way, skinny, emotionless and with their thoughts wondering somewhere. They are presented like healthy, chubby young men with red cheeks.

In our way back to the hotel I saw this beauty and I couldn't resist taking a picture with "her". 
The wedding from the hotel's restaurant kept us awake till late in the night (or should I say early in the morning)... and is gonna be a long, long day today.
Have a blessed Sunday, my friends.

Day #3, Macedonia

It was a plan. In the morning. It said that we will go to see some interesting monasteries on the border of Ohrid Lake, then we will cross the border to Albania to see... well... you'll see tomorrow what. Because the road took us in some very different places.

First stop: only 20 meters after the hotel, to shoot the beautiful boats in the reed. Bogdan spotted it from the hotel yesterday. How can I say no?

This is the village on the water from Gradishte. The Museum on Water represents a reconstruction of a part of the pile-dwelling settlement, chronologically belonging to Bronze Age and the beginning of Iron Age, between 1200 and 700 B.C. 

Second stop: Sveti Naum Monastery.  We took a boat trip on the lake, so we could admire better the unbelievable view. It was one of the best ideas of the day, actually we let ourselves convinced by a fisherman, who told us he would like to take us to Sveti Zaum Monastery either, which is reachable only by the water.

The monastery was established in the year 905 by St Naum of Ohrid himself. St Naum is also buried in the church.

The other monastery was far away on the lake, and the funny thing was that our boat driver was the only one who has the keys! How lucky we could be? All the tourists in the area were happy to enter the small monastery of of Holy Mother Zahumska (Mary), as the locals call it. It was built in 1361 and although the painting has been damaged, the preserved parts show the excellent painting talent of the unknown painter, especially his sense of natural expression and coloring.

The locals said that is a unique painting of Santa Anna and Santa Maria as a baby, as you can see above.

The water is unbelievable blue and clear, it reminded me of Thailand islands. 

Except the sand, of course. Here you can find only small pebbles all over the place. Still reminded us of Thai islands.

We took the lunch in a common restaurant with the most ever uncommon view I saw: the small river which collected the springs and the water from Prispa lake to fuel the Orhid lake.

The original plan was to go in Albania, instead we decided to see Prispa lake, only 20 kilometers away. Lake Prespa sits about 150 m above Lake Ohrid.  Due to the karstic (porous limestone) bedrock, water from Lake Prespa and its catchment area contributes significantly to the supply of several springs along the shore of Lake Ohrid.

Here we found an incredible place: an almost empty beach with an abandoned restaurant, with the most magnificent views ever.

There would be more... but I fell asleep on my computer already. Good night. I'll be back with Ohrid's Monasteries and some other goodies. Tomorrow.

sâmbătă, 30 iulie 2011

On the Road. Again. Through Ohrid Lake

Yesterday we spent almost the entire day on the road, having in plan to reach Ohrid early in the afternoon. Well, the map is not always the road, as we well know, and the Bulgarian kilometers are somehow very different of the rest of the world's kilometers. 

And, of course, we stopped several times on the way to take some pics, because you know this became a habit already.

A very tempting sunflower in the fields made us stop despite the lack of sunshine. But wasn't it pretty?

We mistook the road few times trying to find Zemen monastery, but look at this stork nest on a road we had to turn back!

The Zemen Monastery is on a mountain, difficult to reach, but is such a beautiful and quiet place! Was build in XI-th century in Konyavska Mountains, at about one kilometer of Zemen. 

On our way out of Zemen we took a different road, we got terribly scared because we thought we lost ourselves in the mountains (no telefon network, no water, no people for about 15 kilometers) on a terrible road. But, finally, we reached some civilisation, and also this beautiful lake (or should I say swamp), which was not on any map we had. Told ya' about the Bulgarian roads and kilometers, but don't ever trust their maps. And I'm talking about a recent paper map, which I'm very good at reading!

And our final destination for the day, the Lake Ohrid itself, after a very long and difficult drive from Skopje (note: don't ever forget to take the circular road!!! we missed it and had to surpass the city center and some bazaar area). It was one of the most difficult roads we ever went, 118 kilometers in 2 hours of adrenaline. 

But, finally, we reached the lake and the hotel, we get the accomodation and we caught the sunset on the Granit Hotel's beach.

Some information about the lake, according to http://www.exploringmacedonia.com. "Being the largest and most beautiful out of Macedonia’s three tectonic lakes, Lake Ohrid is about 30 kilometers (18 miles) long and round 288 meters (945 feet) deep. While the lake is filled up by water from three rivers, most of Ohrid’s water comes from another lake - Prespa which is located on the other side of Mountain Galicica. With its unique flora and fauna characteristic of the tertiary period (2-4 million years ago), Ohrid is one of Europe’s great biological reserves. Most of the lake’s plant and animal species are endemic and unique to Ohrid. The most famous among these are two types of the Ohrid trout, named letnica and belvica. Other unique Ohrid creatures include two types of eel, and the bleak whose scales are used for making the well-known Ohrid pearl. This treasured jewel is produced according to a secret method which was passed on from generation to generation. Sport fishing attracts many passionate fishermen from Macedonia, Europe and even from the world. In 1980 Lake Ohrid was proclaimed by UNESCO as a locality of the world’s cultural and natural inheritance."

And, the traditional photo shooting, at the sunset. Don't judge us too hard, we just enjoying a lot doing that!

 And, the total sunset, on the terrace...

vineri, 29 iulie 2011

This Moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 
{from www.soulemama.com}

Is Always the Jurney, Not the Destination

We decided couple of weeks ago to take a trip to Macedonia, to see the Ohrid Lake. Well, we are on the road. Again. There is always a lot of fun in our road trips, because we stop a lot during the jurney, to take pictures on the road, to see some new things, to wonder around if something seems beautiful.

First stop was soon after we passed the first border, near Stamora, in Bulgaria, there is a bridge we always want to have a closer look. It was build in 1877 and its name is Biala. I will come back with some more pictures, this is the one I took with my purse camera :).

Then, we stopped directly in Sofia, so Bogdan could meet with his ex-colleagues from Reader’s Digest. I thought we will have dinner with them but, to my big surprise, Bogdan took me and only me in a very special place, on Pancharevo Lake, at a restaurant named Lebed.

There was the perfect company, with a perfect setup, in a perfect restaurant, with the perfect view and the perfect food and wine.

The avocado, shrimps and trout salad was and incredible dish, the olives bread was just baked and the Katazyna’s Question Mark red wine complimented perfectly the food.

After that, I tried the trout stuffed with cheese and salmon, and Bogdan a well seasoned sea-bass.

And now I'll go to have some breakfast, 'cause I'm starving just looking at those pictures.
 Then back on the road, my friends! 
Next stop: Ohrid.