Monumental Skopje Macedonia

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Macedonia Square

Flag of Macedonia  ,
Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today was a day of traveling for the most part.  Luckily we had breakfast delivered by 8 am so that we could eat and be out by 8:30.  We had 5 taxis take us to the bus station.  We were dropped off at the wrong one and then ended up at the one I used to get to Koprivshtitsa - not far from its space either.  I went in search of a money change place with Marilynn and we found Western Union and managed to change our levas into Macedonian dens or dinars or something like that.  I then went in search of a restroom but found the door locked.

We boarded the bus and I tried to find my assigned seat - which I eventually did with some help.  The seat numbers are on the backs of the seats.  Some others were not in their assigned seats and a young couple and an older woman gave them problems.  The young man asked me to move so he and his girlfriend could sit together - I would have resisted a bit - but Louise came in time to sort everything out and I got to keep my window seat

The scenery was nice - not too different from what I had seen before in Bulgaria:  mountains, fields, villages.  There seemed to be more livestock.  We saw some sheep as well as cattle.  Here we saw herders along with the animals.  Also, especially in Macedonia, there seemed to be houses in the midst of the fields and quite a few people were out working in their fields.  It is Sunday today.  I guess it is not their regular work maybe but their off-work work. 

At the border we had to drag our bags off the bus while a customs officer walked past them and then we put them back on.  We got back on the bus and another man came on, collected all the passports and left.  When he came back, he handed out passports in front of me and to people in back of me, but not mine.  He eventually came back with mine and some others.  Then another man came onto the bus and took all our passports, left with them, and then came back with ALL of them.  Yay!

It was about 2 1/2 hours to the border and then another 2 hours to Skopje.  On the Macedonian side the terrain seemed more rugged and the houses a bit poorer.  More rugged in the sense that the valleys were steeper and narrower.  The raging rivers or streams continued to rush down.  The streams/rivers were very pretty and I wondered if we would see anyone fishing, but I never did.  I missed the storks nesting on a rooftop while we were still in Bulgaria that Marilynn sighted.  The bus driver was playing some folk-type music so that added to the atmosphere.  Sadly, I was sleepy and napped a bit so I missed some of the scenery.

We arrived in Skopje and got settled into our hotel after a taxi ride and prolonged negotiation over the taxis.  We are not far from the main square and across the street from the Greek embassy.  We were all kind of hungry by now - 3 pm - but really 4 pm Bulgarian time.  Louise led us on a walk to the main square where we saw the statue of Alexander the Great, then to Mother Teresa's monument, then to the old quarter for FOOD.  We ended up at a brew pub restaurant that served some local dishes and Macedonian-style pizzas.  Lots of folks got pizzas and they were huge.  I had a mushroom and sour cream crepe casserole that was nice but a bit bland.  I should have had another salad.  I had hoped for more mezzes.  After lunch/dinner, we strolled around the fort - which is closed for a year - and the old quarter, and ended up back at the square.  Oh, we went over the stone bridge to get to the old quarter.  The stone bridge has lots of monuments to various heroes, including Cyril and Methodius, and also teenage pickpockets who unzipped Marilynn's purse zipper.  I guess they were noticed trying to pick other pockets on the way out over the bridge.

I forgot to mention that between our hotel and the square and surrounding the square, there are loads of new modern buildings - lots with shiny glass fronts.  After our walk we sat at a sidewalk restaurant and ordered drinks to wait for the lights to come on Alexander's statue and the fountain surrounding it.  They came on and then went off.  The waitress said they were half hour on and half hour off, but they came on again almost immediately.  I took a bunch of photos - hope they aren't too blurry.  The moon was visible behind the statue - a little dot.

We left after taking photos.  Marilynn ended up waiting for me - I thought she had left so I continued taking photos until I heard her say they were leaving.  We retraced our steps back to the hotel, but not all that well because we got off course.  But not too badly.  One of us asked for the Greek embassy and a nice young man led us almost all the way to it - to the back of it.  It took us a little time and one more helper to find out that we were behind it and then here we are back at the hotel.  I am rooming with Marilynn and we need to get up around 6 am for a 7 am something departure.

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