Macedonia trip report

 

Macedonia



Macedonia is one of the new states that emerged out of the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. This happened without the war the break caused elsewhere, but what really ticked off the Macedonians, was the refusal of Greece to let them use the "Macedonia" name. This is because there's a region in northern Greece called Macedonia, and Greece claims a historical "copyright" for it. Thus the new state was forced to grudgingly adopt the official name "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", abbreviated to FYROM.

 

Ohrid

The World Heritage town of Ohrid is a prime attraction. The setting is very scenic: right on the shores of Lake Ohrid, pure spring water is ringed by mountains. Ohrid town, a blend of cobbled old quarter and modern resort, has sandy beaches, lakeside walks, waterside restaurants and, supposedly, a church for each day of the year.


 

Skopje

Inhabited for over 6000 years, Skopje has been the victim of intermittent earthquakes and reconstruction. In 1550 the city was rebuilt Ottoman style. In 1960, 83% of the buildings collapsed due to shoddy construction, the redevelopments are still ongoing and often seems wild. Skopje is not big and the centre is perfectly walkable, so you won't have to bother with public transport as long as you stay in or near the city centre. Most tourists head to the Stone Bridge and the fortress. While across the river is the Turkish Old Town, with the maze of little alleyways, mosques and the bazaar.
The most unique characteristic of Skopje is the countless sculptures and statues – the city is teeming with such statues, especially very large ones, which the locals claim is how the politicians launder their money. The most in-your-face statue is that of Alexander the Great, which cost 8 million euros.


 

Bus from Ohrid to Skopje

The bus journey from Ohrid to Skopje goes through lush valleys and picturesque villages. You don't get much time to admire the views though, as the Macedonian bus driver constantly had his foot on the accelerator while blasting off thumping beats and folk melodies of Balkan turbofolk. "This is different to Norway, a bus tailgating cars. He's very effective I must admit" quipped the Norwegian couple next to me.


 

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