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October 4th 2009
Published: October 20th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Montenegro & Bulgaria - September 29th - October 7th

While in Kosovo we found out that due to boarder restrictions we could not leave Kosovo through Serbia if we entered in Montenegro. Just like that, our plans changed and we were off to Skopje, Macedonia instead of going directly to Bulgaria. It's a bit of a cliche but things really do happen for a reason. While in Skopje we stayed at the City Hostel and were greeted by the owner, Bobbie. He was one of the most helpful and friendly hostel owners we have met on the trip so far. He went out of his way to help us plan our stay in Skopje and even arranged for a taxi to take us to Matka Lake. This was definitely the highlight of our stay in Skopje. Lake Matka is about half hours drive away from the bustling capital city of Skopje and offers adventure seekers everything from kayaking down the river to mountain climbing. We opted for the mountain climbing. After an hour and a half hike we arrived at the beautiful Matka Monastery perched on top of the Suva Mountain. From there it was still another half hour climb
Skopje, MacedoniaSkopje, MacedoniaSkopje, Macedonia

One of the many mosques in the old town.
to the summit. The climb to the peak was challenging and at times frightening, but in the end we were rewarded with panoramic views of rivers, mountains. monasteries, and the Matka Canyon.

The day before our climbing excursion we explored the town of Skopje and took in all the few sights that the city has to offer. One that particularly stands out is the historic railway station. The clock on the station stopped working at exactly 5:17 the morning of 26 July 1963, when most of the city was devastated by an earthquake.

After several days in Skopje, we were off to Sofia, Bulgaria. Unfortunately after a 7 hour bus ride, we were greeted by cold rainy weather. We were hoping to do some more hiking but that was obviously impossible given the wet conditions. We quickly regretted booking a hostel for three nights since there weren't too many sighs to see and the nightlife was also quite disappointing. Really the only thing to do in Sofia is shop in the thousands of stores that populate the city center. This normally would have been delightful, but given our tight budget a shopping spree was out of the question! After being disappointed in Sofia, we had high hopes for the Black Sea Coast. Luckily Varna did not disappoint!

Since we are now traveling at the end of the season many of the tourists have left which means less crowds. Luckily Varna has 6 Universities and one college so it is packed with young people. We spent one of our days lounging in the hot mineral springs and another topping up our tans on the beach. A much needed break from the non-stop traveling. We have made it from the Adriatic to the Black Sea in less then two weeks!

Now back on the bus to Istanbul!

Additional photos below
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Remains of the old train station.Remains of the old train station.
Remains of the old train station.

The Skopje train station was demolished by the 1963 earthquake. This is all that remains.

3rd January 2010

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