Friday, December 23, 2016

Lake Ohrid Region, Albania

Here is the final installment of my friend's very detailed report of a trip she took to Albania last summer.

"Our first lunch near Lake Ohrid was at a beautiful restaurant situated on the bank of a rushing river in a steep gorge. Outside the restaurant, I encountered my first pomegranate tree. These grow wild in the hills.

"We passed along the side of Lake Ohrid, by the city of Pogradici. This is a resort area, and the area around town is another of Albania's curious plateaux, covered with gardens and fields. Everywhere I have ever been, farm fields are laid out in geometric shapes, often irregular, probably with a view to delineating ownership, and fields are adjacent to other fields. In Albania, fields are shaped like irregular spots with fractal edges, as if, 'Oh, here;s a good place, let's plant corn.' Other fields may be about, but there is often waste land or construction among the fields. I think this may have to do with the issue of property rights, which has yet to be settled after years of Communism preceded by warlords and Turks. The gardens around people's homes are carefully tended, I think because the investment is more certain.

"Lake Ohrid is very big and is the deepest lake in the Balkans,and one of the deepest and oldest lakes in the world, in the same category as Lake Baikal in Siberia or Lake Superior. Lake Presba is located just a bit to the east and is similarly deep and old. Both lakes are tectonic, caused by ruptures in the earth's crust, and fed by springs and therefore extremely clear.

"In Korca on the Greek border we stayed in a small bed and breakfast in a lovely old Turkish house with a large stone-flagged courtyard where an ancient grape vine shaded the dining tables, and roses, oleander and nectarine bush grew in clay pots. In the morning, we discovered two turtles wandering among the flowery profusion. The city is lovely, very clean with lots of parks and beautiful private and municipal buildings, many in the Beaux Arts style."

My friend also enjoyed the spectacular scenery en route and a visit to Voskopoja, a tiny town famous for its 20 churches. She predicted that the Lake Ohrid region will be a hot spot for tourism in the near future, particularly given that Turkey is becoming more dangerous for travellers. When she mentions her travels in other countries, she is very widely travelled and has served as a U.S. diplomat in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Many thanks for her contribution, and Merry Christmas to all.

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