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Published: February 10th 2018
Fog in Dubai delayed our flight by more than an hour so we didn't land in Skopje till 1pm, after that all ran smoothly we picked up our Skoda and followed our hostess through the city which contained an extraordinary number of statues to a restaurant located in an old monastery in the Matka Canyon. Matka means "womb" in Macedonian, the canyon is located west of central Skopje, and covers roughly 5,000 hectares, it is home to several medieval monasteries. The Matka Lake within the Matka Canyon is the oldest artificial lake in the country.
The food was really good, the Macedonians has some fantastic cuisine and good beers. It started to drizzle as we followed the path down to the car park and getting quite dark by 430pm. We followed our hosts for the next two hours before arriving in the remote mining town of Probistip, it seems this part of Macedonia is littered with underground mine tunnels where zinc and copper have been extracted for centuries. We think it likely we are the only Australians to ever come here, Monika took us to the hotel were we will stay, we then went to her house too meet her
father and brother, we consumed pickled vegetables and Raki before returning to the hotel bar. I left everyone in the bar around midnight local time as I was knackered and headed to my room, it is cold but not unbearably so.
I woke about 430am and went to the loo, before laying in bed till the sun came up around 7am, my button popped off my pants so ex RAAF man Shane sowed it back on for me, while Al and I took showers, we headed down for a good breakfast at 8am. After eating we decided to go for a drive around town visiting a supermarket before going to Monika's place to roust her out of bed. I was a little frustrated as daylight hours are short here and we were wasting valuable time while she slept in.
Eventually we caught up with Monika but it was almost 1230pm so we followed her and her friend to the nearby Lesnova Monastery, it may be dedicated to St Gabriel of Lesnova, who lived in the local caves and died there as well.. Officially called the Monastery of St Archangel Michael and St
Hermit Gabriel of Lesnovo it is one of the most important medieval monuments of Macedonia. The living monastery built in 1341 contains a church with some fine frescoes and has at least two monks still in residence. From here we visited the mining village of Zletova where her father works and her grandmother has lived all her life, I was playing with a pup here but after I watched it eat its own shit I didn't touch it again.
Our last destination of the day was another traditional Macedonian restaurant, the food was exceptionally fresh, tasty and cheap unlike Dubai, we stuffed ourselves before returning to our hotel for an early night, friday night's here mean loud music belted out from every part of town, tomorrow we head south toward the Greek border before crossing into Albania near lake Ohrid.
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