Macedonia is not one of the most visited countries. Maybe it is also the fact that it is Europe’s poorest state. This country will leave you with many impressions, both positive and negative.But what is quite clear, Macedonia is worth a visit.
I wanted to visit the country because of the fact that it is not a typical tourist destination and I wanted to make my own picture of this country. So in January this year, five young people decided to travel to Macedonia.
Finally, in Macedonia
What we did first when we arrived in Skopje was that we had withdrawn Macedonian denars from an ATM. Since Slovak banks rarely have such a currency, it is better to take money from an ATM on site or exchange it at the exchange office. There is a fee of 2 euros for withdrawing from an ATM. We got to the city by bus, where we bought tickets at the airport. When we arrived at the main station, we were really horrified. Not that it wasn’t a problem for every single bus station, but as much garbage and dirt as it was rarely seen. We have been paying good attention to our luggage all the time, because it is in this place that one does not feel safe in the evening. Fortunately, it didn’t take us long to stay.
Contact with the person we had booked apartment was slightly complicated. As Macedonia does not belong to the EU, they charge different amounts for telephone calls, SMS messages and, above all, have high prices for mobile data. Fortunately, everything turned out well and the accommodation surprised us pleasantly.On reservation.com we found a really nice accommodation in the city center. The block of flats we entered was reminiscent of the old communist houses at first glance, but after entering the apartment we were really pleased. Even our host was really nice, it didn’t make me take a picture.
On the way to accommodation we downloaded the center of Skopje, but we kept the real exploration for the next two days.
As the right travelers, we started our day shortly after five in the morning. We quickly picked up and 6:20 we were already standing on the main square in Skopje. From there, however, we immediately went to the old district called Čaršija. I liked this place most of all around Skopje, not because there were modern or tall buildings, on the contrary. Čaršija is a historical district and from every corner there is an orient.
Since Macedonia is indeed a poor country, you could see a lot of garbage in the capital. In the heels you often go wandering dogs, which is a non-escape here. Despite these negatives, it is extremely interesting to see this neighborhood and experience the poorer parts of the world.
At 10:00 we were already at the main station, where we boarded the bus, which took us 3.5 hours to the beautiful town of Ohrid.
As we reached the center of Ohrid from the bus stop, we witnessed the poverty that reigns in Macedonia again. Shabby houses and clutter all around. But the city center was really nice. Not to mention the Monastery of St. Clement and Pantolomeja. This place is of great historical importance, as it is considered to be the place of work of the first students of Cyril and Methodius. We also had a beautiful view of this monastery from Samuel’s fortress. In Ohrid, of course, you will find many important monuments, it is definitely worth seeing the ancient amphitheater, the Monastery of St. John, or the Church of St. Sofia.
Poverty in Mecedonia and beautiful landmarks
By the time we got to the center of Ohrid from the stop, we once again witnessed the poverty that reigns in Macedonia. Dilapidated houses and clutter everywhere. The city center was really nice. Not to mention the Convent of St. Kliment and Pantolomej. This place has a great historical significance as it is considered the place of the first pupils Cyril and Methodius. We also had a beautiful view of this monastery from Samuel’s fortress. Of course, in Ohrid you will find many important monuments, it is definitely worth seeing the ancient amphitheater, Monastery of St. John, or Church of St. Sofia.
Samuel’s fortress and its view
From Samuel’s fortress we also have a beautiful view of Ohrid Lake. This lake is the most visited place in the whole of Macedonia and even more than the capital Skopje. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms the natural border between Macedonia and Albania. In fine weather you can even see the other side of the lake to Albania.
After such a beautiful view sm went through the city and bought something to eat. Indeed, food is very cheap throughout Macedonia. We tasted local burgros, including the so-called. Macedonian Burger, in which paprika purée is usually AJVAR. Ajvar is a Macedonian specialty, made from peppers. It really tastes great and so I bought two ajvars also home in Slovakia (with luggage control was later a minor problem, but everything turned out well).
Returning to Skopje
After Ohrid is a relatively small town, it didn’t take us long to go and we were already on the 16th bus, which took us back to Skopje. Unfortunately, I do not have the best memories of this bus, since it was late January, it was cold outside and the bus was air-conditioned. And as if it wasn’t enough, there was a grid on the roof through which it had blown out from the outside, and even the leaves were inflated. After returning home I spent a few days lying home with a high body, but unfortunately such things sometimes belong to travel. ?
After arriving in Skopje, we went through Carsiya once more to get an impression in the evening. Certainly this was also very interesting, Turkish music was playing around and you could see restaurants with kebabs or other delicious meals. But we chose a low cost way and bought dinner in ordinary foods.
Like the previous day, we got up early too. Although it is already the day of our return to Bratislava, we decided to get up today and see as much as possible from the capital of Macedonia.
Mother Teresa Memorial House
In Macedonia, in addition to Alexander the Great, another very important person was born. She is Mother Teresa and was born in Skopje. Today you will find a museum and a memorial house built in her memory. Unfortunately, we came outside the opening hours, but I guess we will go there again, otherwise the entrance to this museum should be free.
Skopje as a City of Sculptures
Since 2014, a project called Skopje 2014 has been operating in Skopje, the aim of which is to increase tourism in Skopje. On the main square you will find a statue representing Alexander the Great, but also a statue of Maria Theresa or a statue of Cyril and Methodius. In addition to important rulers or scholars, you will also find statues of beggars and children doing various crafts. These sculptures suffered a wave of criticism from the locals. Macedonia is trying to fight poverty there, and beggar statues do not help to complete the local image or improve tourism.
Double Decker and Wandering Dogs
You will surely be surprised that there are not just ordinary buses in Skopje. There are the Red Double Decks as well as in London. They were used here in the 50s and 60s and since 2011, this tradition returned to Skopje. This aspect certainly does not shed the best light on Macedonia. These dogs are really non-escaping, and we often find ourselves in a sit-up, where we have to change course, just because of these dogs. Tourists usually behave harmlessly and follow you especially when you have food in your backpack. However, if you move on a bike, it is very likely that they will bark or jump at you, and so do the cars.