Practical details for Ohrid and Macedonia

Currency

The Macedonian Denar (MKD) is the local currency, and comes in denominations of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 and there are also coins of one, two, and five denar. Though it is stable, the den ar is basically nonconvertible outside Macedonia - make sure to change back your left over denars at departure. At present, 1 Euro buys you some 61 MKD; 1 GBP should therefore buy you roughly 90 MKD. The most useful foreign currency to have in Macedonia is the Euro, which is widely accepted (however, coins are hard to be accepted). US$ should work too, but other currencies might be more difficult to change at private exchanges, which means you will need to rely on banks.

There are some ATMs in Skopje and Ohrid, which you can use to withdraw cash with your Credit Card (if you have one).

Visas

All visitors require a valid passport. Citizens of European Union countries do not need a visa, and the same is the case for US citizens. You can check for your visa requirements at http://www.mnr.gov.mk/consular/vizaEN.htm. If you need a visa, first check the location of the nearest embassy - there aren't that many around, especially outside Europe. Check at the website of the Foreign Ministry at http://www.mnr.gov.mk/ - be aware that this site can be extremely slow to load. The list of Embassies is a Word Document and can be found at http://www.mnr.gov.mk/RM%20Embassies%20.doc .

If you need a visa, then you will need an invitation from Peace Action. Send your details - address, passport number, issue date, date of birth, place of birth, nationality - to Peace Action, Boro Kitanoski, email borokatmail.com, and you will receive an invitation by airmail - it needs to be this way. Be aware that the visa process is slow, so allow at least 4 weeks.

How to get to Macedonia?

The easiest way to get to Macedonia is probably via plane to Skopje. Don't expect a huge airport though - there are not that many flights to Skopje. Airport information is available at http://www.airports.com.mk/. Basically, Skopje is connected well to Belgrade, Budapest, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Rome, Vienna, and Zurich, and less well connected to Amsterdam and Istanbul. This limits your choice of flights a bit.

In theory, there is also an airport close to Ohrid (see http://www.airports.com.mk/), but we heard rumors that this airport is presently closed for refurbishment, and the fact that the online timetable does not show any flights supports this. We will try to find out. If you already booked a flight to Ohrid, you should double check with the airline if it really goes there.

Unfortunately, there are no buses to Skopje airport, so unless you contact us early in advance, so that we can try to arrange something, you will be at the mercy of the airport 'taxi mafia', which charges 3.000 - 5.000 MKD for a ride into town. Just to compare prices: from the town to the airport it should be around 660 MKD. The Skopje airport website has a new link to a taxi service, with contact details and charges. Have a look at http://www.airports.com.mk/taxip.htm. According to this website, a taxi to Skopje should be 900 MKD, and to Ohrid it would be 4,500 MKD.

There is also the option to fly into Thessaloniki in Greece (check visa requirements for Greece - Schengen area!!). However, the train ride from Thessaloniki to Skopje takes about 6 hrs, and there are only 2 trains per day. One train leaves at 6pm, and arrives at Skopje at 9.30pm, the other train leaves at 8.04am, and arrives at 11.47am. If you want to travel on to Ohrid on the same day, you will need to take the early train. Travel is cheap - I got a return ticket for 25Euros or so in February.

If you want to find out about train connections, then the German railways website is the most reliable way to do so. Their English site is at http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en.

Some people might try to get a flight to Prishtina in Kosovo. Buses between Skopje and Prishtina are fairly frequent.

Skopje

You will probably arrive in Skopje. Useful information on Skopje can be found at http://www.skopjeonline.com.mk/, which also offers links to accommodation, if you plan to hang around in Skopje.

Ohrid

The seminar and the WRI Council meeting will take place in Ohrid, at lake Ohrid. You can find more information on Ohrid on the website of the Ohrid region at http://www.ohrid.com.mk/. There are about 10 buses a day between Ohrid and Skopje, via Kicevo, which is the faster route. They take about 3-4 hours, and should cost you 8-10 Euros (well, of course you should pay in MKD).

Seminar venue: Boy Scouts' Camp, Izvidnicko Odmoraliste, Ohrid, Macedonia

Once you get to Ohrid, the easiest way is to take a taxi (they are cheap and easy to find) to the Boy Scouts' Camp which is located on the old exit from Ohrid to Struga (nearest town to Ohrid, also on Ohrid Lake). The drive should cost no more than 60 MKD (1 Euro).