Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of Macedonia  ,
Monday, August 29, 2011

Tetovo, Macedonia - OK, let's start with the Tetovo story. To get from Tirana to Skopje, I took an 8 hour bus to Tetovo, driving past the beautiful Lake Ohrid. I have a two hour wait at Tetovo for a short 40 minute mini bus ride to Skopje. During those two hours, I read about China, chatted briefly to a guy who sold me a soda and was constantly swatting flies. Only, when I had been in the minibus for ten minutes did it dawn on me that I left my jacket on the bus. Let's take you back to Tirana, I get on the bus, remove my jacket and place it on the shelf above me. The shelf was too narrow for a bag, so I placed my jacket up there while at the same time thinking how crap it would be to forget about it and leave it on the bus. I did just that.

On the minibus, I removed my headphones, felt my face and body heat up while I contemplated the problem. How cold will Russia and Mongolia get? Was there a chance of getting the jacket back? In short, very unlikely. However, I found my hostel and asked them to ring Tetovo bus station. No jacket found. I the run back to Skopje bus station and get a mini bus back to Tetovo bus station. No jacket found. The bus had just left for Tirana when I arrived. I was told three things, either come back tomorrow at 5pm, or 930am or try the railway station? Which one was it? It was 9pm, no more buses back to Skopje, so I found a cheap hotel. Next morning, back at Tetovo bus station, no jacket found. I'm beginning to piss off everyone, especially the gaunt chain smoking rep for Huk buses. He still helps. I figure, it only makes sense for the jacket to come back to Tetovo at 5pm, ie it's gone to Tirana and back without me.

I head back to Skopje, after all, my large rucksack is there plus I have a city to explore. By the time I got back to Tetovo bus station, after catching another minibus, I have given up on my jacket. Low and behold, when I arrive again, the bus is back, being cleaned! My jacket, found! Found in exactly the same place it was left.

It feels great. I should have given up on the jacket, moved on and bought another one. But that just isn't me. I like to think I don't give in easily, not everything is a lost cause. Well, it was cheaper recovering the jacket than replacing it.

So that was Tetovo. I am now a familiar face at their bus station!

Skopje, Macedonia -

The city of Skopje is dissected by the river Vardar. I enter the city at dusk and cross a lion guarded bridge to the illuminated Ottoman fortress of Tvrdina Kale. A spectacular view.

Inbetween the crazy jacket situation, I managed to explore enough of the city. Behind the Ottoman fortress is the Turkish bazaar of Carsija. Intricate little streets, narrow cobbled stone roads and independent boutiques, cafes and restaurants. A fascinating place. It is dead when I explore. Above each street hangs a zig zag of cables to support the street lights, an awesome sight on an evening. The buildings are a mixture of wood and stone. They have an old look about them, but there is no need for a facelift, the worness of the buildings adds to the atmosphere of the area. I love the Turkish bazaar. Locals are going about their day quietly, similar to Tirana, there is a coffee culture. To the back of the Bazaar is a fresh market selling juicy tomatoes and ripe watermelons. The smells are a mixture of freshness and the aroma of a heavily used restroom. Covering the skyline are the towers of mosques and churches.

The fascinating aspect of southern Europe is the heat. It is dry and hot in the south, a welcome relief from the north of Europe, though I will make the most of each day till my journey continues and I find myself adding more and more layers.

The two parts of Skopje are connected by numerous bridges. My favourite of these is the Stonebridge. Walking south over the bridge, one can view the riverside cafes and old concrete Yugoslav monuments and architecture. Slowly walking over the bridge, one is drawn to the sight ahead, a tall beautiful fountain topped by a dominant statue. In the distance, the pristine mountain wilderness with a large cross on the peak.

The southern part of the city is where you'll find modern day Skopje. Bars, restaurants, shops and busy walkways. In the evening in the same area, I found a skateboard event, and a riverfront packed with locals enjoy the warm evening over a coffee, sip of beer and fresh pizza.

The city, like Tirana, is under a large redevelopment. The skyline is filled with cranes, the building covered in scaffolding. Despite this and potholled filled streets, the city has a great feel. I enjoy a beer on the riverfront on my last evening in Skopje, while viewing the orange sky when the sun slowly set.

With time constraints and a packed scedule, I did miss off Lake Ohrid, but it was heavily recommended by my hostel and various books.

Next stop, Sofia and her charms.

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Dave on

I would have done the same!

edward anchor on

Tony - I was last there in 1966 after the earthquake - there was a lot of rubble but I enjoyed what was then Yugoslavia.Ed

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