Balkans Day 23 - Skopje

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October 3rd 2018
Published: October 3rd 2018
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It’s our final day, so after a shower (shower gel of the day is rosemary and thyme – I smell like I’ve been marinated) we set off on one last motorway trip and one last border crossing (with 4 sets of tolls) to complete our Balkan circuit.

We stop on the way out of Nis at Bubanj Hill, site of the retaliatory slaughter of thousands of Yugoslavs by the Nazis. There is a memorial park there now with 3 giant fist sculptures sitting on the hillside.

The thing I dislike most about Serbia is the rubbish. When something is finished with, it is immediately discarded in the street, out of the car window etc. There are an empty Fanta can and a crisp packet dumped in the middle of the war memorial.

We continue our journey. 55 miles before the border we run out of motorway; we can see it in the distance but it’s not finished yet. So we bump and bounce our way towards Macedonia. Finally we rejoin a pristine piece of motorway, so new Google Maps doesn’t know it exists and gets somewhat confused about why we are driving through a field.

Since we were last in Macedonia there has been a referendum to change the country’s name so that Greece stops vetoing its application to join the EU. 90% voted in favour but only 30% of the electorate turned out. No one is sure what to do next. It’s a bit like a reverse Brexit.

We drop the car and go to our ‘hotel’. Tonight we are staying on the Senigallia, a boat moored on the river in the heart of the old town. We have a 6 am flight in the morning, so take an afternoon nap listening to the river flowing outside our window.

We go to the Carsija, the old Turkish bazaar area for one last dinner of kebabs and ajvar (roast peppers in oil). I have developed an addiction to ajvar, so buy an enormous jar to take home with me.

Time for one last stroll round Skopje with its abundance of statues then back about our boat for an early night. Tomorrow our Balkan adventure concludes and it’s back to the UK to plan a trip to South America…

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