Travel “trends” come and go, sometimes there’s a place everyone is talking about and a year later nobody is talking about it at all.
It’s always nice to “get in on the ground floor” and see a place which is only just emerging as a top travel destination.
Macedonia is so “new” that Dorling Kindersley don’t even make an Eyewitness guide for it yet.
Nikki and I had been on weekends away, this was our first holiday together and I was really looking forward to it.
And when I say emerging destination, I’m not joking.
It was hard to get money from these ATM’s, which had been like this for some time 🙂
We get a taxi to hotel Anja in the middle of the main street of Skopje.
They have a DOS hotel booking system with a normal monitor and even a floppy disk drive (I haven’t worked professionally with that kind of tech in close to 20 years).
But that didn’t matter, they were really friendly and helpful.
We stayed in on suite rooms above the restaurant, a bit cosy, but very clean and had air conditioning.
We wander along the water front, near our hotel.
Its a beautiful day.
Describing a travel destination as a contradiction is a bit of a cliche these days.
But how do you describe this. They have brand new palatial buildings next to half built road.
I read that Macedonia is one of the 8 poorest countries in the world.
Some sort of street art.
Didn’t do anything for me, but I thought I’d take a picture of it anyway.
The Stone bridge is a national monument and a major meeting place in Macedonia.
It traverses the Vardar river in the centre of town and connects the new area (where we were staying) with the old town.
They are still finding their feet in terms of tourism, as you can see from this street-side map and its unfortunate circumstances.
Warrior on a horse statue in Macedonia square.
It features Macedonia’s most famous son, Alexander the Great on horseback.
In the early evening, we wander out of town and climb to the top of this hill, with views of the river and the Philip II arena.
As we wander back down, Kale fortress is lit up.
We wander into the old town, to get something to eat.
The chicken and lamb kebabs were really nice, but whenever I got a burger, it was more like a sort of “Findus grill steak” from my early teens.
Still fairly early and we wander back through the clothes shops and the place is practically empty.
Up early and its time for breakfast.
We’ve decided to go walking today, so we’ll need our energy.
We both have Omelets with tomatoes, cucumber…
Oh, and lots of coffee.
Were heading out to climb mount Vodno.
On the way out of town, we see Memorial house of Mother Teresa.
She never actually lived here, its built on the site of the chapel where she was baptised.
A short walk along a busy road, and we find the route.
Basically, the bottom half of the route, is either a road, or a path in the forest that zig/zags near the road.
Obviously we walked up the path.
Its a hot day, but we reach the half way point fairly quickly.
There’s a cable car station here and they sell refreshments.
I get a bottle of Skol, a drink unavailable in the UK for 30 of years.
We were making good time, but the cable car promised spectacular views, so we opted for that.
We arrive at the top of Vodno and see the Milenium cross – Celebrating 2000 years of Christianity.
From here we head off over the back of the mountain in search of adventure.
Apparently, there’s a canyon somewhere around here, but as we have no maps, we just follow the obvious trail.
Although the country is quite poor, they have lots of natural resources and plenty of people who know how to work them.
It was nice to sit down somewhere cool and have lunch (and it looked pretty waterproof for days when it rains).
The countryside turns forestry here and a take a photo of this small deer.
Further along, remnants from the cold war, this area must have been used for storing tanks or some other kind of heavy ordnance.
Nearby were some underground tunnels and stuff like that. I love that kind of thing.
One last surge uphill through the brush and then we head down the other side of the hill.
Not long after we find a road with a few houses and farms nearby.
We’re exhausted and dehydrated and have only a rough idea where we are (on the opposite side of Vodno from Macedonia town centre).
A bus comes along which is quite full. He speaks no English, we mention Macedonia and he gestures us to sit down. We offer to pay for a ticket but he just gestures to sit down. What a relief, were heading home.
As we get to the bus station, I’m so grateful, I offer him the equivalent of a tenner with a “get yourself a drink gesture”. He declines. Some people are too kind for their own good 🙂
Reminded me of a quote about buses from the guidebook.
As we wander back in the daylight, we see signs for a wine festival.
I’ve pretty much worked out what we’ll be doing that evening.
Back to our hotel, a quick bite to eat, shower and changed and then wine festival it is.
It was pretty smart, and they even had a live band.
Macedonia doesn’t have a great reputation for its wine, which is wrong as we both thought it was really good.
Our last day. We visit the Museum of the Macedonian struggle.
Its Sunday afternoon.
We find a really nice tavern in the old town with lots of people relaxing.
There’s live music, more Macedonian wine for Nikki and more Skol for me.
Chicken kebab for dinner then more drinks by the river. Off to bed and our adventure in Macedonia is over.
In the morning, its Macedonia bus station and were off to Ohrid.