Friday 2 September 2011

August 14-16 :: Macedonia

We were too late arriving in Sofia to attend the "trip briefing" but our guide has left us some information on our departure time and meets us for breakfast. We are booked on the public bus to Skopje, Macedonia's capital, departing at 08:00 from the Central Bus Station. The public bus is comfortable and we have reserved seating. We travel through attractive, mountainous scenery with a stop along the way.

'A warrior on a horse'…,    from Balkans 2011
We arrive by lunch time so all afternoon to explore. It is a short walk to the Stone Bridge across the River Vardar. Along the way we pass a lot of modern statues in the streets and in Macedonia Square is a huge, 12m bronze statue A warrior on a horse with a rider on a horse rampant. The statue has only been erected in the last couple of weeks and is still not complete. The official name of the statue not withstanding, everybody knows that it is really Alexander the Great, much to the annoyance of Greece! Time to grab a snack and a beer.
Before crossing the river we walked up the pedestrian street that leads to the Old Railway Station, Museum of Skopje. The clock on the wall of the old station stopped at 5:17 when an earthquake struck on 26 July 1963. There is lots of statuary along the street including a couple of statues of Mother Teresa near the Mother Teresa Memorial House.
We then cross the river via the Stone Bridge and explore the area around the Kale Fortress followed by the small streets that make up the city's Old Bazaar. As the sun is setting we find a quiet spot among the many small establishments in the bazaar where we can take our evening repast.
It is another early morning. We have now done Skopje and we take another bus to our next stop, Ohrid on the western shore of its namesake, Lake Ohrid. Ohrid is one of the few Cultural and Natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it is not hard to see why. It is a lovely area with the town set on the mountainous shore of the lake.

Church of Saint John…,    from Balkans 2011
We take a walking tour of this small city and end up at the Church of St John the Theologian at Kaneo before returning along the lake front. The weather was delightful and we enjoy an al fresco meal at a waterfront restaurant. A pleasant, relaxing place where we could happily have spent another couple of days.

Map of the route.

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