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Backdoor travel

Travel is intensified living – maximum thrills per minute and one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is freedom. It’s recess, and we need it. Experiencing the real Europe requires catching it by surprise, going casual …’’ through the Back Door.

Affording travel is a matter of priorities. (Make do with the old car).You can travel – simply, safely and comfortably – anywhere in Europe for $100 a day plus transportation costs. In many ways, spending more money only builds a thicker wall between you and what you came to see. Europe is a cultural carnival, and, time after time, you’ll find that its best acts are free and the best seats are the cheap ones.

A tight budget forces you to travel close to the ground, meeting and communicating with the people, not relying on service with a purchased smile. Never sacrifice sleep, nutrition, safety, or cleanliness in the name of budget. Simply enjoy the local-style alternatives to expensive hotels and restaurants.

Extroverts have more fun. If your trip is low on magic moments, kick yourself and make things happen. If you don’t enjoy a place, maybe you don’t know enough about it. Seek the truth. Recognize tourist traps. Give a culture the benefit of your open mind. See things as different but not better or worse. Any culture has much to share.

Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and  optimistic. If something’s not to your liking, change your liking. Travel is addictive. It can make you a happier citizen of the world. Our Earth is home to six billion equally important people. It’s humbling to travel. Globe – trotting destroys ethnocentricity. It helps you understand and appreciate different cultures. Travel change people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life. Many travelers toss aside their hometown blinders. Their prized souvenirs are the strands of different cultures they decide to knit into their own character. The world is a cultural yarn shop.

And back Door travelers are weaving the ultimate tapestry.

Come on, join in!

Grace of the Nature – Macedonian treasures 

Look, somebody has scattered old tiles across the water. Or perhaps these are only roofs that have set out on a long journey. Their chimneys are there too, jutting out like masts without sails. And where are the houses? Have the people gone too?

No, they are there. You can feel the presence of the houses by the few mortar corners and cobblestone streets that peek from behind the eaves. Underneath, in the deep shades, are the people too. They are knitting or untangling the tangled fishing nets and the even more tangled fishing stories: the one about the trout as big as a lamb or the one about some strange sounds in the water at night or that of the great horned serpent that someone’s great-grandfather once saw. Castles in the air, rooted in the water.

Across the lake is the most mystical of shores that harbours an equally mystical monastery. It can be reached only by water or by climbing down the perilous rocks. The Zaum Monastery. The lake is said to be the deepest, coolest and most limpid there. You can swim in absolute silence and forget that you live in this century, for nowhere will you see even a trace of our modern times. You will be able to see the bottom tens of meters below and feel the spherical surface of the lake. Like a tiny fly nimbly moving its little feet in God’s limpid teary eye.

What is here a work of nature and what a work of man? Has the bridge branched like a plant from the rocks, or have the rocks been put there by man to better brace the bridge where it has stood since times immemorial? You will admit that the water-mill below seems like a stage prop hovering above the rocks, to be dis-mantled as soon as the photographer leaves the village.

Who does this bridge serve and is there a road on it at all? Perhaps it is not even a bridge but a gate that helps the river find its way between the rocks? Or is it a triumphal arch that solemnly welcomes the river’s arrival in the plain.

Booking Hotel in Ohrid

Robevci house

An exciting rhythm of balconies and windows: odd, irregular like the rhythm of Macedonian traditional songs. The alley, rough like the husky sound of the shepherd’s flute, rises windows and eaves. One might think that the architect intended this tumult, these free spaces and ornaments that people still inhabit. But it is not so. Like the songs, they came into being by their own  energy that each singer charged with a share of his own pain, love or longing for happiness. Then, he sang his song to the neighbor, who picked it up from there and enriched it with his own alley to alley, from street to street, a city of love elegies, grand epic songs and ecstatic reels was built on the hill.

Hotels in Ohrid, Macedonia

Ask yourself what the people who were born behind these windows might be like, who grew up playing in this street and matured in these houses that, balancing on their toes, with their necks stretched, raise their white cheeks towards the sun.

An assembly of masons and carpenters have divided up the sky, cut it with the sharp eaves and put it in large chambers to ornament the ceilings. They have kept the remaining unsymmetrical piece of blue canopy that the tailors usually throw under the table and stretched it over the street, hemming it with drainpipes and tiles.

A few sycamores were growing on the slope above the village. Their mother was the loam that nursed their roots below; their father was the sun that gave them light and strength by day. A lad and a lass spent many evenings under their secretive shades to kiss. Soon they married. One morning, a few years later, the lad came and cut all the trees down. He sawed them and turned them into beams and girders for his new house. He turned the soil around into heaps, mixed it with water and straw and puddle it with his feet. He put the bricks he had made from the puddle on the threshing floor where the sun could bake them. Then, he placed them between the beams and girders and finally he covered them with the remaining puddle. By the barren and forsaken slope, he erected a beautiful house, there to reunite the earth, the sun and their sycamores.

Many years went by and the house grew old; its skin fell off and exposed its insides: The dry maple bones and the loam flesh within. The old landlord sat alone in front of the wall and sorrowfully remembered the beautiful sycamores and the youth he spent in their shades.

Every house is nursed with the lives of its builders and landlords. Futile are their stubborn attempts to exempt themselves from this stake by sacrificing a lamb, a cockerel or another wretched beast in the foundations. There is an old Macedonian song about a sprite who builds a fortress of human bodies in the sky beneath the clouds and uses mighty heroes for her columns, fair maidens for her fence and fine children for her windows.

Can there be a gate within a gate? Why would people need a gate in a gate? Maybe to enter somewhere twice at once? Or, perhaps, to keep the entrance a bit closed and a bit open? Open to the  good, of which there is so little, and closed to the evil, of which there is always more. This gate is the entrance toSkopje’s most beautiful Turkish inn, perhaps the most beautiful in the Balkans. It is called Kurshumli-an, because of the leaden roof it used to have until a hundred years ago.

The gate is as old as the inn – about four hundred years. And it is still the same, although the building itself, destroyed and restored, has changed its purposes many times. From a hotel, it has been turned into a bazaar, from a bazaar into a prison, and then into a museum or a theatre or concert stage. How many people have passed through it! How many times have the rusty hinges had to creak so that the traveller’s leg could step over the high threshold? How many heads have had to hit the sharp edge to pay  the toll for the repose in the cool guestrooms? How many turnkeys have spent their lives over the years opening and closing these gates? Of course, the big one for the distinguished guests, with a humble bow; the small one for the plain, with a weary and used up smile

High above the Lake

It was one of those early sunny spring days when we start our journey towards the peaks, for the second time this 2012. Heavy wind was blowing up the snow off the mountain towards the turquoise blue sky leaving an impression of a distant weather change. Like many times before, withdraw was not an option. We pop up the terrain Land rover and half an hour latter reach the village of Gorna Belica 

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Last preparation was made by checking the equipment and after following the path up through the cluster of old oak threes. Looking up the hill for the last time before first stop of the place called ,,Chuma,, was a gorgeous summit of Krstec 2260 m above sea level. It was our destination and a final point for that Sunday. The village itself has it’s own history with a location on the crossroad of the ancient Roman Via Ignatia road. Nowadays, very popular and attractive among the enthusiasts, trackers, ski fans e.t.c. Personally I feel very fortunate to have it so close to Struga, our home town, half an hour away high on the slopes of Jablanica mountain in the south-west of Macedonia.

The snow as always was sufficiently frozen for this time of the year make it easier to walk on it full loaded. Packed with a list of necessary stuffs, food and unavoidable ski we were prepared for the long run. It’s about 2 ½ Hours hike from the center of the village. Skiing can be addictive and more or less extreme, if you are fond or if you start exploring beyond the limits. That’s why this mountain range was nothing new for our expedition, time – dedicated on quest for excitements.

Searching for spectacular scenes on the way up, we were often interrupted by the scenery and nature surrounding us. There wasn’t enough time at all catching the differences that mountain has to offer you. Every step was a new perspective and a new shot. We didn’t feel it hard to find another angle because of the richness of the terrain. We were climbing towards Belicka river springs alongside the scenic gorge. According to the plan we supposedly surround the regular path and took the extreme uphill knowing the consequences. This time of the year the temperatures during the night were dropping sharply below zero even the days were warm enough. For example after 10.00am one could easily take off everything and continue the way up wearing a simple T- shirt and moments later start freezing without prior notice. Mountains and its weather are unpredictable and we were aware of it. Attention and awareness were constantly brought by the threat of slipping surface ahead. Short time after our first brake over the place called ,,Chuma,, we stood on the wild goat resting cliff. It was such a strategic point for all hunters from the region simply because they could easily cover and control a wide range of forest valleys. We stood for the first time there stunned by the look of the village below with all idyllic aspects. From this point it was hard to make it up and together we start ascending at a very slow rate. Preoccupied with a distance, little exhausted, it became obsession for a conquest. The summit wasn’t special, the route we choose was. Frozen cliffs around and snow packs at a time contributed the overall difficulty. In a record time we succeed to free the off road and enter the wide expanse of whiteness. Passing the last depression carefully we were faced with the Summit of Krstec and the unique exciting view from below. There was no a single three, no a single rock everything covered with snow and ice. Thought we traveled on another planet, such a freedom and simplicity. Staying behind the group taking photos I supposedly enjoyed the rare moments of everyday scheme. It was more to come as we approached the final point at 2260 meters above the sea. Real moments of excitement and increased rush of adrenaline followed like, staring at the sun and seconds latter looking around the mountain snow desert. Moments when you don’t like the idea to quit the feeling, get away, and ski off the mountain. Superb weather conditions gave us the right and confidence to prolong the visit of the unapproachable peaks as never before. Down the Struga valley beautiful Ohrid Lake – background opened the look giving another dimension to the space. Everything quiet and still around, only the wind orchestrating its special noise. It is true that breakfast on a high tastes differently. So different and delicious that even the water has a taste.


Domestic Super Saver Fares

Coming next, the show time, and the only reason we came for. Using the time, restless, we passionately grab the opportunity to make out a wild ski stage. Like never before descending downhill skiing was such a delight to our senses. Cold breeze, sun and an open space didn’t give us reason to ask for more. Completely sufficient passing the way down through the slopes entering the forest and plunging between the snowy branches we were complacent, screaming out of satisfaction. Stopping behind on a few occasions I used to cool a bit and melt a snow on my face. That was a habit from an old days, when we learn how to fall. The first ski lesson, according to an old thought you need to learn how to fall in order to start fly. Very original and pragmatic thought as we rush skiing back to the village.

The down route had several stops as a result of small brook streams that intercept the path. It was hard to avoid them because of the small amount of snow fall in the lower sections so every time we constantly used to learn how to jump over. This time we developed a special technique taking the left side track making thus a slow jump on a broader space. Prepared in advance we followed one another without any doubt for mistake. Always the attraction comes at the end with a final stage entering the village after four hours of excitement, with a speed that makes you forget the exhaustion.
It was all worth it.
We were closing the adventure of the day turning back and saluting the mountain once again. Another lunch in one of the weekend resort cottages gave us the opportunity to cheer up and talk about the future adventures to come.
Another week comes and another weekend after, everything should be planned in advance. Lunch with a complete grill menu and a glass of red wine accomplished with a good music.
You’ll never ask for more.
Such a wonderful Sunday !!!!

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Comments
  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

    • Robert says:

      Very though full. I enjoy coming to sense the spirit of all the places you write about. It almost like I have visited all of the. Please continue with your excellent job. All the Best

  2. Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is magnificent, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about Articles | Booking Hotel IN .

  3. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Articles | Booking Hotel IN .

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