Saturday, 10 October 2015

Dihovo to Bitola day sixteen 9/10/15

From Dihovo to Bitola 

9th October Friday

day sixteen Via Egnatia 
A short walk from Villa Dihovo to Bitola about 7 km 
We left Villa Dihovo at about 10 am after a leisurely sit in the sunshine and breakfast, happy days, sunny day again!
It's a lovely easy rural walk this morning, sheep, farms and fields...
Thankfully the track isn't too muddy

after a little while we walk through the village Brusnik. Quite a few empty houses again, and fields and orchards that look unkempt. 
Instead of walking the path described in the guidebook, from Brusnik we head directly to Bitola, we want to avoid too much mud...it also makes the walk much shorter today.
Everyone has red peppers drying.
As we approach the centre of Bitola we walk along the river canal, the autumn leaves are starting to change colour.
Statue of Alexander the Great, then we walk down Shirok Sakak, the main pedestrian street to find our accommodation, Tokin House.

Bitola is quite a surprise! It has a lovely feel, there are wide boulevards impressive old buildings, it's another town with a huge coffee culture! It's only midday and the cafes are full of people having coffees, socialising and chatting along Shirok Sakak...

Arrived at Bitola - Tokin house at 12:00. 
Our room isn't ready yet, but Yasmin at reception is very apologetic and helpful, we leave our big packs and she takes us to their local restaurant Korzo - around the corner for lunch. We get a 10% discount as we are guests at Tokin house.
We order a local red for me, Patrick a beer and local food, delicious and filling! (The dish of marinated chillis is quite Spicy!)
Selsko Tavche 
Lunch 720 den

We plan to explore the ancient site of Heracleia after lunch.
Heracleia was founded by Philip II , Father of Alexander the Great in the middle of the fourth century BC. 
We spot these cheeky squirrels jumping around the park on our walk to Heracleia, about half a km from the town centre.
Heracleia, founded fourth century BC by Philip II , father of Alexander the Great and named after Hercules. Only a small part of the site has been excavated.
Mosaics
Very difficult to capture the detail and intricate designs
And old well, with deep grooves from years of hauling up water.
We walked back to Tokin house late in the afternoon and phoned Pece, he's going to Greece for a few days tomorrow and has offered to drop us off! he'll pick us up at 6:30 am tomorrow morning and drop us off at Edessa, he's so kind! Its forecast to rain again tomorrow for two days... Walking and camping in the rain is not a good option, there's no accommodation between Bitola and Edessa along the Via Egnatia that we can find. There are no buses from Bitola to Greece.

I've spoken with Jana on FB via the Friends of Via Egnatia, Bitola is her home town and we've arranged to meet at Tokin house 5 pm Friday afternoon. The kindness of strangers in Macedonia is so heartwarming! Jana would like to show us some of her hometown, Bitola.
She shows us the incredible church of Sv.Dimitrija

Stunning chandelier, fresco and icons... An old, beautiful church. Built in the 1830s on the site of an older church that burnt down.



We wander towards the old quarter



Jana leads us to a fabulous coffee shop built into the side wall of an old mosque

Such a great atmosphere!

Jana has a drink called salep, it smells of cinnamon and vanilla, it smells wonderful! it's thick and hot, so tempting that I decide to try Salep for the first time, it's delicious! Salep is made from the root of an orchid. Jana tells us that it's also very healthy and helps to fight colds and coughs. http://www.greekconcept.gr/tinctures---extracts/salep-orchid--orchis-mascula 
All coffees and drinks are served with a glass of water! Love it!

Jana than leads us to the Bitola museum... The museum is housed in the old Military college where Attaturk studied. It has many interesting displays from throughout the ages. I love the traditional costumes they're so detailed and the embroidery is stunning.

Jana's husband, Vasko joins us and we have some dinner, the biggest pizza I've ever been served! It was delicious too!
Thanks so much Nana and Vasko for your kind hospitality! It means so much to have a local show us around!

Last day in Macedonia !
We cross the border into Greece at Niki tomorrow on our way to Edessa 
Off to bed, good night- we're up very early in the morning...

Accommodation:

Tokin house $44 AUD per night  booked Friday 9th October
Marks i Engels 7, Bitola, 7000, Macedonia

Tokin house
28€ per night 
1720 den 

Another option in Bukovo is Villa Bukovo, run by Toni Krrstevski - on air B&B looks lovely and can sleep up to 4 people. Email krstevskitoni@yahoo.com 
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/621358?s=F82LpdmW