Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End May 01, 2012

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Flag of Macedonia  ,
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who would have guessed that Macedonian people and I have so much in common- music. On a trip back to our hotel yesterday evening great music was being played over the speaker of the ferry boat: Barry White, Run DMC and Aerosmith, Chic, Blues Brothers, Gloria Estephanand lots more funky stuff. Half way through the hour long journey a Macedonian song came on and there was a scene. I hadn't realisedbefore but we were completely surrounded by older women on the balcony area of the ferry, there was only me and one other guy,and when this song came on all the women got up out of their seats and started dancing and singing. It was hilarious, they were having a riot. They kept yelling to the captain to turn it up, they even used their arms as a pole and started doing limbo in the aisles. It was one of those experiences that had such a big impact because it was so unexpected. Before that I had been silently cursing the women because the loud noise of their conversations was drowning out the fantastic music but this turned everything around. The whole day trip was worth it for this one small moment of chaos.

We were returning from a trip to the opposite side of Lake Ohridin Macedonia to see the water springs. The water was as clear as glass and we were rowed up a stream with a bunch of Serbians to see the springs close up, as well as a couple of churches and monasteries along the way. The rest of the day we spent lounging on the beach and eating some traditional Macedonian food in the restaurants nearby. I had some stew thing with chicken and lots of vegetables and mushrooms, it was delicious. Belinda didn’t want any because it had tomatoes so instead she had a Macedonian hamburger. We got the idea to take this trip from our friendly hotel owner who runs the hotel with her husband. He doesn’t speak a word of English but is always polite and says hello and goodbye and smiles when we see him. Maria, the wife, spoke excellent English and she was constantly helping us with things to do and places to see. They were very happy to meet us because we were the first Australians to ever stay at their place. Also, his sister lives in Melbourne and apparently all the Macedonians who left to live in Australia never come back so we promised to spread the word about how beautiful Macedonia is and also contact his sister.

The town Ohridis situated on a lake that is the border point between Albania and Macedonia and is surrounded by mountains. Our hotel was in part of the 'Old Town’ which is on a small mountain that overlooks the lake. It is filled with churches, beautiful little paved laneways and thousands of steps. It was about a 10min walk downhill to the beach which is set against the cliff face, full of cafes, jetties and pebbles instead of sand. We were very happy to stay here because it is a bit quieter than the busy town and the view is spectacular. Inside Ohrid we were regulars at the bakeries, bought kg’s of purplegrapes and nectarines at the market and dined on pizza and pasta most nights. The people here speak very good English and are super friendly.

Crossing the border from Albania was interesting. We walked across having been told that there was a monastery just on the Macedonian side and that we could get a bus from there. Luckily a van came along after about 15min and we realised that the walk would have taken at least an hour. Transport around here and in Albania is slightly different than back at home- firstly trains are apparently extremely slow and run down and buses are called furgons. Often these are just vans and you have to go around asking each one their destination to find the right one. Also, to make things slightly more difficult,they leave from different places in the city so you have to speak to locals to find out where to go. Surprisingly, it all works really well and people are always very happy to help.

From Tirana our furgontook us through the mountains to the eastern border and the views were breathtaking. We got to see a bit of the rural lifestyle which is eye opening- they have these motor bikes which after removing the front wheel they attach a square kart, like a trailer in Aus, and steer by holding the edges of the kart. Also along the way there was a van that for some strange reason decided to try to do a u-turn on a sharp bend with only two small lanes of road and a steep drop to one side, concrete wall on the other. Obviously he couldn’t get around and after having gone a little too far into the grass just before the drop people had to get out of their cars to push him back the other way. So both lanes were at a standstill for a while until they eventually sorted it out and off he went with a wave of thankyou. Even the Albanians thought it was funny.

On a lighter note, there seem to be fewermozzies in Eastern Europe. They have been replaced with bees but not aggressive bees that sting, more like flies in the way that they buzz around closely to check you out for a minute and then off they go. Also, we have had another dress emergency but this time its shoes. While we were in Verona Belinda stubbed her toe and took the top skin off. Since then we have had many close calls but Macedonia has taken her big right toe to a whole new level. Walking up the 1000 steps to our hotel, she did it again but much worse than the first time and spent the next ten minutes sitting on the steps head in hands crying like Nick Riewoldt after a grand final. This toe is becoming a problem. Again I feel incapable of helping because everything I do or say is met with stern looks and swear words.

We haven’t had internet at Skopje so the two blogs have been combined here, hope it’s not too long. We are now in the home of Mother Teresa, Alexander the Great and also the capital of Macedonia. After getting off the bus and walking no more than five minutes the big right toe had another mishap. I thought mozzies were a problem. Tears again (in the middle of the street), an overabundance of bandaids and we decided to get a taxi to our hostel to save some anguish and my sanity. We have spent the last three days walking in the bazaar, drinking at bars and sampling all the delicious pastries bakeries here have to offer. Belinda’s new favourite is doughnuts filled with apricot jam. We had a mild occurrence of Melbourne weather yesterday with the temperature dropping to 20 degrees and pouring rain all day.

Amy, to answer your question- every single coke you have seen in the photos has been Belinda’s, plus many more we didn’t photograph. However, taking coke away from Belinda is like taking cookies away from the Cookie Monster.

Happy birthday Sophie, Auntie and Michael. Hope you had wonderful birthdays and sorry we couldn’t be there.

Tomorrow we are off to Bulgaria. First stop is the capital Sofia and then to Varna which is on the coast on the Black Sea.
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jenny and vince on

This make me want to visit Macedonia – it sounds amazing. Look forward to speaking with you
Cheers Mum

Jess on

Hi Guys!

YAY! loved seeing 'Belinda and Luke have posted a new blog' in my emails this morning - it definitley makes my day a whole heap better knowing the new things you guys are doing.
Belinda, i to have a problem with my big toe. The toe nail has fallen off 3 times & it always seems to the same toe i stab lol so i feel your pain!

Miss you guys, look forward to the next blog & skpe session! xxxxxx

Jenny Johnston on

Macedonia certainly sounds and looks is not a place I would have chosen to visit but I might now have to reconsider. (I will add it to my bucket list, the more placing you are showing us is making Dad and I want to visit). It is nice to read that you are meeting some nice people and enjoying there culture.

Belinda you need to get a new pair of shoes and pick up your feet when walking...

Auntie on

Hello there:)

Was great to talk to you the other day, love a good goss session with you Miss Belinda!!!

Hope the toe is getting better, maybe I should have bought you those ugly travel shoes that dad wanted you to get - but then again the sunglasses looked so much cooler. lol

Now even I want to travel to Europe which has never been on my agenda - cant wait to talk again and keep blogging its great to hear from you.

Luke you should have gotten up with the ladies and danced - they would have been impressed with you as you are a well trained flamingo dancer after all.

xoxo Auntie

Michael on

Great Blog are certainly chalking up some great memories..Like the hawks chalking up the wins.....thanks for the birthday wishes. Enjoy

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