After Meteora we couldn’t decide where to go next. We had a flight to catch in Thessolinki to go to Rome but that wasn’t for another week.
We brainstormed with going to Vikos Gorge but realized we wouldn’t be able to do the entire hike without renting a car or getting stuck in a tiny village for 3 days because public transit in Greece is pathetic. The other option was hiking Mt Olympus but unfortunately the trail up didn’t open until May and the cheapest hotel was $70/night. So with that we decided to hop on a bus from Thessloniki to Skopje to save some money and kill some time. We found a return ride for €25.
Skopje is a strange city with its unique charm. It is quite tiny and the city can be explored in a few hours. The city is in a state of rebuilding and everything in the centre seems to be under construction. Apparently the government is in an urban renewal project set to complete in 2014; part of their plan is to build new buildings of every size and style while the other plan is to place sculptures every 2 meters of every semi and non famous Macedonian.
Mother Theresa is from Skopje:
The centre piece of all the rebuilding is a gigantic Alexander the Great monument/ fountain that has its own disco lights. The square isn’t very big but there must have been 30 statutes there.
Skopje is so tacky it reminds me of Las Vegas; they wanted their own “Charles bridge” like the one in Prague but instead they had to build two of them side by side. Strange, tacky, glitzy are all words to describe Skopje. According to the locals all this is part of some massive corruption by the government.
There also seems to be some tension between Greece and Macedonia due to the naming issue. As well Macedonia are composed of 25% Albanians and 75% Macedonians and they don’t like each other. There is a big bazaar in Skopje and during praying time every male in the Bazaar runs and grabs mats to all pray on the street by the mosque. But when we asked about it to the hostel owner he seemed the act distasteful of the Muslims in Macedonia. All this was complex.
Specialist fruit sellers at the Bazar:
One of the days we went to Matka Canyon which is about an hour from the city, actually it’s a very nice canyon with beautiful views. There is a cave there which is thought to be the longest or deepest in the world, but they haven’t reached the end yet to figure it out.
After Greece it was really nice to be back in the Balkans where everything is so affordable, especially food and alcohol. We were at the supermarket and was really struggling to spend our last $2. Macedonia bureks are incredible. We had bureks in all the Balkan countries and I didn’t love them, but I loved the Macedonian bureks so much I ate them two nights in a row.
We somehow managed to spend 4 nights 3 days in Skopje. We changed hostels midway and met some cool people and found a neat bar that was apparently not so cool anymore according to the local Macedonians. (We still really loved it). On our last day in Skopje we decided not to go to Kosovo and so did absolutely nothing. It was fun.