Courtesy of Laura HammettOhrid, Macedonia is a small town located on the eastern side of Lake Ohrid. The town looks out over the beautiful lake and once can slightly see Pogradec, Albania on the opposite side of the lake and across the boarder. The town of Ohrid is an official UNESCO heritage site. Due to the protection of UNESCO, the town looks much like it did during the Ottoman rule. The houses are made of white stone, the streets are composed of grayish and black rocks, and the streets are all very narrow windy, and difficult to navigate.
Although Ohrid is just across the boarder from Albania, it is obviously more developed than it's close neighbor. While Albania still struggles with power outages, lack of central heating, and little enforcement and regulation of laws, Macedonia has already worked out all of those issues. The country is much cleaner, trees are in abundance, and the culture seems more civilized.
What is normal and expected in Albania is rude and embarrassing in Macedonia. People in Albania constantly stare at strangers for long periods of time. This is an everyday occurrence and nothing is thought of it. Many Albanians also speak in loud and harsh sounding tones. Most of the time these people are just speaking normally, and are not upset at all. While in Macedonia I noticed that the Albanian tourists stuck out like sore thumbs. At one meal there was an older man speaking Albanian to the other two people at his table. He spoke in a loud and rude tone of voice to both the waiter and the others he was with. It was clear that the entire restaurant was perturbed by his lack of consideration for the rest of the people around him.
Another example was something I did while in Macedonia. Unfortunately I have picked up this habit while over here and desperately need to work on reverting back to the American culture does and don'ts. Kim and I went to have coffee in one of the coffee bars along the main street one afternoon. I ordered a hot chocolate (which in this part of the world comes out more like a thick chocolate pudding). When my hot chocolate came out I was surprised of the consistency. Therefore, when I heard the men at the table behind me order one cocoa and one hot chocolate, I was anxious to see what would arrive The waitress served the men and quickly walked away. About a minuet after the men had received their drinks Kim reprimanded me for blatantly staring at the table next to us. I was completely unaware of how long I had been staring at those men. When Kim pointed out what I was doing I became very embarrassed and turned bright red.
Courtesy of Kim LancasterNew Years Eve was spent at a bar located right on the lake. Adam brought along some Golden Eagle energy drinks from Albania. He was adamant that we all drink them before we headed out to the bar. By the time we left our little apartment I was definitely energized! The night was super fun. Lots of dancing and lots of Serbs. It was like we had entered little Serbia upon walking through the doors of the bar. We circle danced with a few other patrons, talked up our odd love of Albania, and laughed through it all. What a great way to start off 2012!