Blogs from Macedonia, Europe


Europe » Macedonia » Skopje September 2nd 2015

Our flight home was in the late afternoon, so after a leisurely breakfast and packing our stuff for the journey home, we walked a short distance from our hotel to the museum of the Macedonian struggle. The Macedonian take on various historical events was really interesting, and the exhibits well explained by an English-speaking guide (who took just ourselves around) - there are numerous paintings and eerily lifelike wax figures that have really taken a lot of work to produce. After the museum, we took a quick walk to Sv Spas church to see the elaborate wood carvings - they were explained with good humour, which made the trip up the steps in the midday sun worthwhile (like most other things in Skopje, it'd been closed on Monday)! We ate lunch by the river, before catching ... read more

Europe » Macedonia » Skopje August 31st 2015

After spending the last couple of evenings in Skopje, we opted to spend the whole day here today rather than heading to Pristina, as had been our original plan. We walked around the old bazaar area, including the Bit Pazar, a large market where you could buy almost anything you wanted. Having avoided buying anything (although nobody was pushy), we walked up to the Mustafa Pasha mosque and had a look inside. From there, we went to the Kale fortress - it had looked permanently closed the other night, but part of it was open, and we walked along a section of the walls for good views over the city centre. After eating spinach and cheese burek for lunch, we caught a bus (#19) to Suto Orizari, a predominantly Roma area of the city recommended by ... read more
Skopje centre seen from Kale fortress
One of the many new statues and fountains
Macedonia square

Europe » Macedonia » Skopje August 30th 2015

Today we went on a long walk... We left the hotel fairly early to set off for the bottom of the gondola at Mt Vodno, just outside Skopje. Having seen taxis everywhere yesterday, we thought it'd be easy to find one this morning, but it was a little harder than we thought. We found one in the end, but arrived to find that the gondola didn't open until 10am, and it was only just after 9. Not to be defeated, we decided to walk up to the summit instead. It turned out that this wasn't the greatest idea ever, as it was already quite warm and the path was relentlessly uphill... But we made it! At the top is a massive gold cross, with a swanky looking restaurant complex below it. Unfortunately, aside from a little ... read more
Vodno cross
View back to Vodno from part way along the path to Matka
Waiting for the boat

Europe » Macedonia » Skopje August 29th 2015

After a short walk along the river in Dihovo, we got a taxi to the station in Bitola. We bought our 314MKD (~£4) tickets to Skopje, with the train waiting in the platform an hour early. There are a lot of train tracks, some heading in the direction of Greece before disappearing into grass... The railways here have clearly seen better days, but the train had comfortable seats, and windows that opened. After shopping for some snacks in a little shop by the station, we got on. We thought it might be quiet, but it filled up a lot before we left, on time. It was the only train from Bitola at a sensible time, with just 4 trains per day to Skopje (there are a lot more buses, but we thought the train would be ... read more
Inside the train
Bitola station
The tracks that once went to Greece

Europe » Macedonia » Bitola August 28th 2015

Today we went up into the mountains in Pelister National Park. We'd planned to walk up, but unfortunately there were limited number of guides available (it's a holiday for Orthodox Christians), and no easy way up to the trails without one, so we joined a jeep trip to the top instead. Definitely a lower effort way to climb a mountain! The road was built in WW1(when the area was on the front line), and hadn't aged well, but our driver expertedly picked as smooth a path as seemed to exist in a jeep that was still got strong with more than 300,000km on the clock! The views from the top are spectacular, including a good view of Lake Prespa which stretches across Greece, Albania and Macedonia. Open street map had good details of many of the ... read more
The big lake
View towards Albania and Greece

Europe » Macedonia » Bitola August 27th 2015

Today we have done a whistlestop tour through Macedonian history. We started off at the Roman ruins at Heraklea - this was a large town in its heyday, and only a small proportion has been excavated. However, there's an amphitheatre, religious buildings and some baths that you can wander around and some really impressively preserved mosaics. It would have been really quiet without a Japanese tour group there! Tickets, in contrast to the prices in our guidebook, we're just 100MKD per person, plus 300 for photos. We then walked back to the town of Bitola - about 15 minutes away, via the station where we found out that there is indeed a train to Skopje, despite the appearance of the station from outside. Our plan is to take the train in a couple of days' time, ... read more
Mosaic at Heraklea
View from the amphitheater at Heraklea

Europe » Macedonia » Bitola August 26th 2015

We left the lake at Ohrid, taking a taxi to the bus station and then the bus on to Bitola. The bus took about 90 mins, climbing up through mountains. On arrival in Bitola we got another taxi to Dihovo. The whole day's transport cost less than £7 between us! We'll be heading back to Bitola tomorrow to have a look around, but we're staying at Villa Dihovo. It's really highly rated by Lonely Planet and others, and we can see why - it's a big old house, with really nice furniture in our room carved out of interesting-shaped pieces of wood. The family who own the place are really friendly, and there's a nice garden with a hammock! They also grow lots of their own food, and tonight's dinner was delicious and accompanied by a ... read more

Europe » Macedonia » Ohrid August 25th 2015

I'm writing this from our balcony, overlooking the lake, with a nice glass of Macedonian rose. Or 'roze' in Macedonian. It's really very pleasant. It's a good job the pronunciation of Ohrid isn't something like the English 'horrid', because it'd be a terrible description (it's more like 'ohkrid' if you were wondering). If you're trying to locate the place on a map, don't use Apple maps as the entire lake seemingly doesn't exist... Last night we ate dinner by the lake, trying Macedonian meze, including ajvar, made from red peppers, and a local trout dish. The meal was delicious, and the cuvée wine we tried really very nice, with a beautiful view out over the lake and to the floodlit little church above us. After dinner we strolled back, and found ourselves watching the last night ... read more

Europe » Macedonia » Ohrid August 24th 2015

This morning we were greeted by a beautiful view across the lake from our balcony... In one direction is the edge of Ohrid town, with Albania beyond, and in the other, the edge of the lake stretching into the distance, with green hills of the Galichica National Park rising from the lake. After a nice relaxing breakfast on our balcony, we set off to wander around the town. We walked up through the old, cobbled streets and along the cliffs to the old church of Sveti Jovan (St John), which sits on a cliff above the lake. It's very picturesque, and the guidebook claims it's the most photographed place in the country. Inevitably, this means we have quite a few photos of it... unfortunately the gadget that transfers photos from the camera to my tablet is ... read more
Towards Albania
Along the Macedonian side of the lake
Ohrid town

Europe » Macedonia » Ohrid August 23rd 2015

After a long day of travelling, involving a very slow train, an enormous queue at Luton airport and then an unexplained delay to our flight, we made it to Ohrid airport. On the approach, we flew over the lake, getting a great view of the town of Ohrid. After finding that the only ATM at the airport didn't work (you can't buy Macedonian currency abroad) we managed to get into town by paying twice the usual bus fare in euros! We located our room, and were shown all its features by a nice elderly man who had waited past the usual check in time for us to arrive. There's a balcony with a lake view, although it was dark by the time we got here, so it'll be a nice surprise to see over the lake ... read more

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