Balkans Day 1 - Skopje

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September 11th 2018
Published: September 11th 2018
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Time for another trip. This time it’s a jaunt round the Balkans. First stop – Skopje, capital of Macedonia.

We’re off to a good start with an uneventful flight and shuttle bus into town. We had booked into the Alexandar Square Hotel but were telephoned yesterday to say they were overbooked so could we go to the new Alexandar II instead. This is a longer walk from the bus stop. It’s also 10 degrees warmer than not-so-sunny Bournemouth, so we haul our overdressed selves and our luggage to Alexandar II to be told we have a room at Alexandar the original after all. So it’s back the way we came, somewhat sweaty and unimpressed.

But it’s a nice, boutique hotel right on the main square and after a freshen up, we set forth to discover Skopje, which, I am reliably informed, is richly endowed with statues.

Three things about Skopje:

1) If, like me, you’re into weird statues, then Skopje is weird statue heaven.

2) It’s a bit like being transported back to the 80s, except for the bit when I’m young again.

3) They’re obsessed with Mother Teresa, who was born here.

We spend a pleasant afternoon wandering around, admiring the multitude of statues. We start at the Mother Teresa Memorial Centre – on the site of where the great woman may (or may not) have been born. Downstairs is a museum and upstairs is a chapel with ornate filigree doves and Mother Teresa stained glass.

Then we head back, via a with a park with sadly extinguished eternal flame, to Macedonia Square with its statue of a warrior on horseback, which may (or may not) be Alexander the Great. We finish with a walk along the River Vardar with its beautifully adorned stone bridges.

Second only to the plethora of statues in Skopje, are the Mother Teresa references. My favourite are the quotes which appear on engraved brass plaques throughout the town. It’s a bit like being trapped in a huge fortune cookie.

Once I am suffering from SSO (Statue Sensory Overload) we head for restaurant Rock Kafana Rusticana for beer and sausage (lots of beer and sausage).

Then back to the hotel for an early night. We have been up since 4 am and have an early start tomorrow for our bus to Kosovo.

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