Photo Essay by Brenna Ransden, Personal Travel
I took my first solo trip by necessity. Desperate to skip town but with nobody to go with, I took the plunge and hopped on a plane alone. Never looking back, in the year and a half since that first solo trip, the majority of my travelling has been alone. In fact, I have come to prefer it over travelling with friends. The freedom to wander without a plan and to spend time alone with my thoughts – or force myself to meet new people – is unparalleled by any other experience. Embodying the spirit of solitude yet friendliness is the small lake town of Ohrid in North Macedonia, where I ventured alone for spring break this year.
Centered around Lake Ohrid, which straddles the border between North Macedonia and Albania, the city of Ohrid is known for its religious and historical sites and is often referred to as the Jerusalem of the Balkans. It is one of only 28 sites named by UNESCO as both a Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site.
I visited in April, before the flock of summer tourists arrived, but while it was still warm and dry enough to spend the days exploring. Each morning, I set out from my hostel in the heart of the Old Town and wandered into the surrounding hills with just my camera and a water bottle. I spent all day exploring in solitude, without any interruptions from strangers. Strangely though, I never felt alone in Ohrid. The rich history of the town and its surroundings and the remarkable natural landscape along the lake were better company than any travel companion could be. The occasional chirp of a bird and the constant shutter of my camera were the only sounds for hours on end. It was truly a refreshing experience to be alone yet feel at home.