Monday, September 28, 2009
This past weekend we decided to get out of town and explore a bit of Macedonia. Of course, we did have an ulterior motive...cheddar cheese! A gentleman who works in the USAID office owns a guesthouse in Star Dojran, which is close to the Greek border, so we rented it for the weekend. It's a lovely villa perched high atop a hill overlooking the Lake Dojran with spectacular views from the two balconies. If not for the 5 kids in tow, it would have been a very relaxing place to spend the weekend...lol. Equipped with all the necessary amenities, i.e. Playstation, satellite tv, dvd's galore, swimming pool with jets, etc., the house offered us a nice place to stay within an hour's drive of Thessaloniki and the coveted cheddar cheese! The kids really enjoyed the villa, and even though it was a bit too chilly for swimming, they are far braver than I and jumped right in... a move I will surely regret letting them do when they are all home sick this week.
Saturday, we made the trip to Thess and stocked up on plenty of cheese and enjoyed a terrific meal at TGI Friday's...always a favorite. We had a really fun, goofy waiter who plied our kids with plenty of goodies...balloon animals, coloring books, crayons, puzzles, etc. They had a great time and everyone enjoyed a familiar favorite food. Not sure it was worth the outrageous cost, but it was a treat!
When we returned from Thess, we strolled along Lake Dojran and photographed the beach and it's scenery. It was an interesting place. You can visibly see how much the lake has disappeared over the years. Both the Greeks and the Macedonians pull from the lake, and it is taking a toll on the water levels. A while back there were numerous problems with the water, but everything is clean and safe now thankfully. It seems like a lovely place for hanging out on a hot summer day, as the beach is actually sand, not pebbles as in Ohrid. There are several little shops nearby for buying snacks and fresh produce and a couple nice looking hotels. Several Macedonian families were picnicking in the park like area near the beach, where there are some grills available for public use. Fisherman dotted the lake, though in much smaller numbers than what we saw in the morning hours. It was a very peaceful environment and we enjoyed it.
After another night of dvd's and playstation soccer, we woke up early and packed up our gear. Eager to return home with our bounty of cheese and watch NFL games..lol, we headed back towards Skopje, admiring the beautiful mountains and amazed at all the trucks and tractors overflowing with loads of grapes, presumably en route to one of the many vineyards for pressing. In the heart of wine country, we passed many such vehicles! We stopped for an hour in Stobi, the ancient Roman city for a guided tour of the artifacts and discoveries there. Chris and I have been before, but we thought it would be a good educational experience for the kids. They all seemed to enjoy learning about life in the Roman times and witnessing some of the marvelous structures that have been unearthed there. It was a terrific weekend getaway!