Struga – world capital of poetry

mazedonien struga 2

Struga is a town and popular tourist destination situated in the south-western region of the Republic of Macedonia, lying on the shore of Lake Ohrid. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Struga was part of the Manastir Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. The Ohrid Lake is the largest lake in Macedonia, one of the largest on the Balkan Peninsula and one of the oldest on earth. The water level is 695 m above sea level and has a maximum depth of 287 meters. On Macedonian banks are the major cities Ohrid and Struga, in Albania it is Pogradec. Overall, more than 200,000 people living around the lake.

The Poetry Evenings, which have been held since 1962, are one of the oldest and largest poetry festivals and have won awards for Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg and Mahmud Darwisch.

Since 1962, poets, authors and poetry lovers have met every year at the Poetry Evenings in the city on the Drin. The six-day poetry festival is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the world. During the Cold War, the festival played an important cultural role as it was able to unite artists from West and East in a "neutral" location - Yugoslavia, as a "non-aligned" state, was not in any camp belonging.

Struga, Ohrid and the surrounding towns are connected by a good bus route network. In addition, bus connections lead to many regional cities (especially Skopje and Bitola), to foreign holiday resorts (Durrës, Vlora, Thessaloniki, Istanbul and Burgas), to Western Europe (Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Cologne, Berlin and Copenhagen) and to other major European cities (Belgrade, Sofia, Sarajevo, Athens and Tirana).

camping-rino-eng.jpgCamping Rino in Kalishta at Lake Ohrid

Citroen 2 CV fourgonette - Judith's motorhome impresses

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Citroen 2 CV fourgonette - Judith's motorhome impresses

And there it was that time again - a new guest or a new vehicle on the campsite that immediately attracted everyone's attention. Of course, ours too, which we are very happy to admit.

Vevčani - Carnival according to the Julian calendar

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Vevčani - Carnival according to the Julian calendar

Our main goal for the trip to the village of Vevčani was actually to visit the springs and waterfalls at the foot of the Jablanica Mountains. However, it quickly became apparent that the village itself also had some interesting details; in addition to the ancient houses in the village centre, which have really interesting chimney constructions and, from a structural point of view, also combine a wide variety of construction features.

Vevčani - village character and village animosities

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Vevčani - village character and village animosities

After visiting the springs and waterfalls, we hadn't gone very far towards the village centre of Vevčani when we first noticed a kiosk on the village street that was cooling its cases of beer in the spring water for sale.

Vevčani - mountain village at the foot of Jablanica mountains

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Vevčani - mountain village at the foot of Jablanica mountains

Only around 15 kilometres from the Rino campsite is the mountain village of Vevčani, at around 800 - 950 meters above sea level. The groundskeeper "Pimi" pointed out to us several times that the village structure had been preserved in its original form, and there are also the legendary waterfalls of Vevčani, which are known far beyond the borders of Macedonia.

Arrival in Struga on Lake Ohrid under a cloudless sky

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Arrival in Struga on Lake Ohrid under a cloudless sky

We set off from Thessaloniki in the morning to drive the 280 kilometres to Lake Ohrid to Struga to the Rino campsite. To avoid a detour on the motorway, we chose our route on the E86 via Edessa.

Camping on Lake Ohrid near Struga – first steps

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Camping on Lake Ohrid near Struga – first steps

Family warmth and the first open conversations on the evening of our arrival had caused great interest in our project, so that we had a "long evening" in the small restaurant.

Stand-up paddling on Lake Ohrid - meeting Linda & Jochen

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Stand-up paddling on Lake Ohrid - meeting with Linda and Jochen

Again and again there are encounters that are neither expected in their form nor foreseeable in their effects for the future. So we had tried to establish contact with the Roman city of Trier many times before the project began, to involve a well-known entry point in our project activity for the development of camper and outdoor tourism route along Roman roads in the northwestern part of Germany. In short, it was not successful.

St. Sophia Church (Crkva Sveta Sofija) in the center of Ohrid

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St. Sophia Church (Crkva Sveta Sofija) in the center of Ohrid

For every culturally interested visitor to the ancient Roman city of Ohrid on the Via Egnatia, the Sophia Church should be part of the visitors program, not just because of the structure of the building but especially because of the numerous sculptures and wall paintings inside. Ohrid has long been one of the cultural and religious centers of the Bulgarian Empire and one of the centers of Orthodox Christianity of the Slavs and of Southeastern Europe.

Roman artifacts in the school museum at Kalishta

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Roman artifacts in the school museum at Kalishta

During our search for artifacts along the way of the ancient Via Egnatia in the area of Lake Ohrid, we received a reference to a small collection of artifacts, which a cultural-historically engaged teacher had gathered in the course of his activities from all over the region.

Autumn hike along the Jablanica mountain range

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Autumn hike along the Jablanica mountain range

A further stop at Rino campsite in Kallista at the Ohrid Lake had led to visits to Vevčani, the curious "Republic" with its own passport and a carnival top address on the Balkans, but the wonderful autumn weather with plenty of sunshine had also led us to further mountain tours.

Camping Rino in Kalishta at Lake Ohrid

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Camping Rino in Kalishta at Lake Ohrid

After our trip passing Croatia during the last year in November we approached at the campsite Rino for the first time. Of course the weather was no longer warm enough for calling it "summer" because the temperatures only amounted between 10 ° and 18 ° degrees.

Back at Lake Ohrid - Morning impressions at the lakeside

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Back at Lake Ohrid - Morning impressions at the lakeside

According to some rainy days, which unfortunately left our planned excursions on and next to Skadar Lake fell into the water, we are now swept back to Lake Ohrid, where during the week preliminary discussions relating to planned hikes and also in terms of a planned Paragliding Festival will take place.

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