Hi there! Thank you for reading our blog. After our first drug sweep experience at the albanian – north macedonian border we are looking for a campsite because it seems that direct access to the water in the area where we arrive is only possible at an official campsite. Kind of randomly we select „Camping Lakeside“ close to the village of Radožda and park our cars a couple of meters from Lake Ohrid. It is already dark when we arrive here and so the full beauty of the place is only revealed to us the next morning. Although the campsite is just a small patch of green between two private properties it has all the things you look out for: Clean facilities, a cosy place to sit outside, a little patch of beach and a jetty. The clear water of Lake Ohrid is a big plus as well. And now guess what: All this for just 10 € per night – in this case it makes no sense to look for a wild camping spot. We plan to stay one night at the campsite and end up staying three and pass the time with swimming, extensive cooking and barbequeing, escaping the swan familiy which passes by every once in a while, brushing our friends dog and playing Mölkky (a finnish outdoor game where you can test your throwing and aiming skills).
Restless Rosie rests. For a couple of days.
...and keep on barbequeing.
Everybody needs to cool down.
But why did we decide to drive into North Macedonia in the first place? The initial plan was to cross into Greece from Albania but at the time the border was closed in the greek direction (officially due to Covid but there might have been political reasons as well). So we needed an alternative plan and it turned out to be that the detour into North Macedonia is the second best option we have. To get into Greece a negative, max. 48h old Covid-19 test is required and so we start looking for test centers around the Lake Ohrid area. A test center at the Ohrid airport exists but only opens when international flights are scheduled. It´s a rather small airport so we are unlucky: No flights for the next couple of days – so no tests accordingly. We try again at the local health center and hospital but only learn that the test are sent to the capital of Skopje for laboratory analysis. As it turns out the main road through Skopje is also the fastest way to the greek border we decide to give it a go and head to the capital to have our tests taken at the laboratory directly. A three-hour drive later we are waiting in line at the test facility (suspiciously observed by a massive stray dog who seems to think he is the protector of the place) and after the friendly employees take our sample we are on our way again out of the capital which we do not plan on visiting this time because of the almost 40°C heat. Absolutely not a perfect day for a casual city stroll.
En route in the heat
Instead we head south on the A1 highway which follows the Vardar River all the way into Greece. It is only the end of June but we see a lot of dried-up landscape along our route and the temperatures are unusually extreme even for this region. We spent the waiting time for our test results (which are convienietly accessible through an online platform) at a wineyard called „Royal Winery Queen Maria“ in Demir Kapija. What sounds a little bit tacky at first is actually a beautiful estate producing their own wine since decades. The place also offers accomondation and a restaurant with a great reputation. We are happy to be allowed to spent the night in our cars in the parking lot and immediatly return the favour with an awesome dinner under large, shady trees in the restaurant. One of the things we like a lot while being on the road is preparing our own food but not having to do the dishes for a change is pretty nice, too. And on top: A dinner with self-made wines at a place in Germany or Italy or other well-known wine countries would have easily been triple the cost. It is still the time of the European Football Championship and while we are setting up a stream to watch the game the waiter places his private phone on the table with the game stream still running. What an awesome move. Thanks a lot again!
Free parking at the wineyard!
During the night the temperatures drop just a little bit and once the first rays of sunlight touch our tent sleep is not possible anymore. But it is a good day to get up early as we are preparing for the border crossing at Gevgelija – Idomeni. Half an hour after we hit the A1 again we spot a huge line of trucks waiting to get into Greece and we start to fear that we´ll have to wait for a long time in the midday heat. Our concerns prove to be wrong just after we realize the normal car queue is not that extensive. After another half an hour we hand our documents – including the macedonian Covid test results - to the greek border offical and after thouroughly checking all info our friends and ourselves cross the border into Greece. Finally. Time for an imidiate reward: Our first Bougatza – the greek version of Byrek, a puff pastry filled with everything you can imagine: cheese, feta, spinach, meat and so on. We are already sure that Greece will offer us plenty of awesome food. What Greece has to offer on top of that, we are going to find out during the following weeks.
Waiting in line at the border: The AC saved us.
Jassas, greece. Jassas, red faces.
Travel period: End of June 2021