Hello everyone, I’m Öznur Karadeniz. Today I will tell you about my Balkan trip. My suggestion is that you explore the world starting from your own environment. In this respect, I went on vacation to the Balkan cities: Ohrid, Tirana, Budva and Bitola.

Ohrid is a town in the southwest of  Macedonia, on the northeastern shore of Lake Ohrid. Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest in the world and one of the deepest in the Balkans. Lake Ohrid is a superlative natural phenomenon, providing refuge for numerous endemic and relict freshwater species of flora and fauna dating from the tertiary period. As a deep and ancient lake of tectonic origin, Lake Ohrid has existed continuously for approximately two to three million years. It was cloudy when we got there. We went to the top of the city and had a cup of coffee enjoying the beautiful view. On the way down to the city center, we went for a walk in the neighborhood with old houses. It smelled of history.

And then, we went to Tirana. Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania. It is located in the center of the country, enclosed by mountains and hills with the northwest overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. We walked in the rain in the beautiful streets surrounded by green trees. At some points, we come across historical structures from the Ottoman Empire, such as the Ethem Bey Mosque. And at some other points, we bombed into Italian structures. At the beginning of the 1930s, the well-known Italian architects planned the center of Tirana. The existing ministries, the ex-royal palace, National Bank, Municipality building, as well as Skenderbeg Square date back to that period.

As a sea lover, the city that impressed me the most was Budva. Budva is a Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Budva was ruled by various foreign empires, including the Byzantines, the Serbians, the Venetians, and the Habsburgs. After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Montenegro became independent in 2006. Budva quickly grew into the new country’s premier tourist destination. Nowadays, Budva is somewhat of a cultural treasure chest. From Turkish to Austrian and Venetian influences, its various cultural and political influences have resulted in a town with stunning architecture and many monuments. We wandered around Budva Marina and went to Budva Old Town. The houses in the old city reflected the spirit of the era they came from, with an incredible beauty. We stayed in an Airbnb house overlooking the beach of Becici. It was perfect to hear the sound of sea waves during the day.

Our last stop was Bitola, with its old name; Manastir. The first place I visited was the Atatürk Museum. It was a great honor to be in the school where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was educated and to breathe the air he breathed. I also had the chance to see his school uniform in his memorial room. After the museum, I took a short tour in the city center. As is the case with most other Balkan countries, Macedonia has played host to several dominating powers throughout the centuries including Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, and Ottomans. Each has left a distinct mark on Macedonian culture that can still be felt to this day. Exploring Bitola by foot is the easiest way to take in the city’s sights and sounds. It takes about a day to see the main sights such as the many mosques, markets, and the Saat Kula 17th century Clock Tower. It was so lovely to see the city white it was snowing.

That’s all for today. Thank you for your time. Have a nice day!

December 3, 2021

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