Ohrid – Pearl of the Balkans

Perched on the edge of the lake that shares its name, the city of Ohrid is known as the pearl of the Balkans. The city and the lake are both protected by UNESCO as cultural and natural heritage respectively.

As well as being home to beautiful vernacular architecture, amazing natural diversity, stunning scenery and a fascinating history, Ohrid is also home to some wonderful craftsmen. Traditional crafts in this region include wood carving, silver filigree and handmade paper.

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Sunrise view of the lake and the old city

At the handmade paper workshop on Car Samuil you can witness the process of paper-making that has been passed from generation to generation and find unique souvenirs like handmade cards and beautiful prints of scenes of the city or people in traditional dress.

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Traditional methods of paper-making being demonstrated

Just along the street from the paper workshop is the Tron woodcarving gallery exhibiting the work of woodcarver Dragan Nelovski. This craftsman will show you his work and the process of creating it, explain the different types of wood he uses and share his passion for the craft with you.

Tucked away by the Church of Saint Sophia is one shop that is not to be missed. A deceptively small shop is an absolute treasure trove for traditional, handmade textiles. Outside you will see a selection of folk costumes, but inside is where the magic is. If you are looking for a handwoven kilim rug made here in Macedonia you will find no better place. Stored away in the back rooms are all conceivable sizes and colours so you are sure to find the perfect souvenir!

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Folk costume on display outside shop
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And inside hides a treasure trove of handmade textiles

My final words on Ohrid: inspirational, tranquil & authentic

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Bruges = Lace

Bruges, in Belgium on a sunny day in May was the perfect place to discover the art of lace making. Bruges is considered by some the home of lace and even has lace centre home to a museum, shop, workshops and demonstrations.

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The museum features samples of the finest hand-made lace both old and new. I was very impressed by the centre, and I think it’s really important not only for preserving samples of traditional styles and patterns but also to keep the craft alive for future generations.

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Perhaps my favourite parts of the experience were the interactive screens which gave the opportunity to try lace making for yourself via touch screens and also the ability to slow down videos of lace makers at work in order to decipher the intricate and devilishly fast hand movements.

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Walking around the streets of Bruges you may also be lucky enough to see a lace maker at work and in every souvenir shop you are sure to find handmade lace.

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