Posted by: bkropf | April 13, 2008

Trying to Slow Down

It was really nice to arrive at a relaxing lake town after a long taxing day (See previous post). Our hostel was basically a small hotel room Tyler and I had to ourselves. It was really nice. The shower was horrible though because it didn’t have a curtain so water inevitably sprayed everywhere!

We only had one full day in Ohrid which was irritating. I really don’t like rolling into a town for only one day. It puts so much pressure on me to see all the city has to offer in one day. This means no relaxing at a coffee shop or long lunches. Then after the fact I always feel like I ‘kindof’ saw the city I hurried through. I would rather do less cities and see more of each.

I did make the best of the short stay in Ohrid though. Ohrid is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, Greek writing mention it in 400BC and they have found other traces of community much older. Tyler and I got a map of the city and started walking all over. There was a really old tree (I think over 1,000 years old) but that didn’t take much time to see. Then we saw some churches from the 4th century and an ancient amphitheater.

We came to one church that had an army of people around with picks, shovels and wheel-barrows excavating. We found they were unearthing new artifacts and items from Roman times. As we approached the church a scruffy looking man with sandals falling off and a wild head of hair fell into stride with us and started telling us about the place and wanted to give us a tour. We took him up on his offer and it was really nice to hear about all the history in the area. I’m not going to go into everything he said but I think the most impressive part of the tour was the tile-work from the 4th century. There were whole areas of ground covered with mosaics depicting different points of history and highlighting Orthodox theology. It was very impressive to see how symbolic and aesthetic the church grounds were. For how homely the guy looked he was very very smart and well educated. He said he got his degree in Philosophy from the University of Sarajevo (I thought his job was stereotypical of people with philosophy degrees).

After the tour we went back and checked out some markets and relaxed a bit in the hostel. We met a girl traveling from San Fransisco so we ended up going to get some pizza with her for dinner. We had an early night as we had to get up early to travel to Sofia, Bulgaria.

I have been noticing many of the cities we travel through all seem to be preparing for the summer tourist season. I feel like I am getting a behind the scenes look at how things really are. I almost would analogize it to going to Disneyland at night when everything is getting repaired and painted for the next days big performance.

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