Before I get into anything about North Macedonia I thought it prudent to show where it is. Intending no disrespect for anyone, it is just because we weren’t exactly sure where we were heading when we decided to go there.

Macedonia is a small country with a massive history. With a population of just over 2 million people it traces its history back to antiquity. We only spent a week there, but I can honesty say if I needed to hide out somewhere in the world, I would have no problem spending a year here.

We started in the south end of the country in the city of Ohrid. We were incredibly fortunate with the weather and loved our time there.
One of the attractions here is a museum and re-creation of a prehistoric village about 15km south of Ohrid. The Bay of Bones is a neat village built on stilts in the bay. The original artifacts from the village are dated around 1000 BC.
We took the opportunity to go diving with Diving Centre Amfora to check it out. Our guide was the fellow who actually initially discovered the ancient pilings in 1976. Karen and I also got a chance to try out our new dive computers. Karen’s looks pretty snazzy I think.
Most of our time in Ohrid was spent walking around the town and exploring the food and drink situation. I am pleased to report the the local beer is very nice and the rakija is excellent here.
One thing you have to be aware of here is, “Don’t feed the cats!” in the restaurant. There were a couple of cats wandering around when the fellow at the next table thought he’d feed one. Within 10 seconds (no exaggeration) there were nine cats at his table. I don’t mind cats, but there is a limit.
We did check out the local fortress. However I have to admit we are starting to get to the overload phase of ruins. Originally built in the 4th century, it is best known as the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in the 11th century.
We also enjoyed the quirky architecture in town, but most of the time we simply soaked in the ambience and sun. We loved Lake Ohrid.
But, too soon it was time to catch our bus to the capital of Skopje. 2 1/2 hours in the little bus was manageable, but honestly I wouldn’t do any longer. The dog in the corner was our temporary guide. He found us as we exited our apartment and walked with us all the way to the bus station. Quite endearing.
I found Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, to be quite a jarring city. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it is different. There are supposed to be 284 statues in central Skopje. I believe it. This one of the diving lady is under the Ottoman era Stone Bridge in central Skopje.
On July 26, 1963 at 5:17 AM (as the clock indicates) a massive earthquake destroyed 80% of the city of Skopje and killed over 1000 citizens. The clock on the old train station has been left as is to commemorate the event.

This is a city/country struggling with a bunch of challenges. Between the politics of trying to get into the EU while being blocked by Greece, and dealing with a government which appears to be somewhat overrun with corruption, the people are simply doing the best they can. You have to wonder what is going on when all investment in the preservation and restoration of antiquities is halted as well as the improvements of the city centre. All while casinos and gambling venues (read money laundering in my mind) are being opened on every block of the city centre. Just sad to see. Hopefully honest minds prevail. I will get off my pedestal now.

One of our favourite things to do in new cities is take in the free walking tours. Once again, we were not disappointed. Vasko, a native of Skopje provided an excellent introduction to the city. Including this stop at the museum to Mother Teresa who was born here.
He also introduced us to borek. A tasty flaky pastry that is a staple here.
The food scene is fantastic here. However you very much appreciate an English language menu when you arrive at a restaurant. We still had a tasty dinner here with the assistance of the waiter.
We headed to the Old Bazaar for a traditional Macedonian meal and were not disappointed. We started with a Shopska salad. Yes that is rakija on the side. They serve more yellow rakija here as opposed to the clear raki in Albania. They are both a form of grape brandy.
And proceeded onto baked beans, fresh baked bread and kebobs (not pictured, sorry) It was awesome.
A neat feature of central Skopje is the proliferation of clean water fountains. They are everywhere. It is wonderful to watch the locals walking by and drinking, washing their hands or just refreshing their faces.
We went up to Skopje Fortress to check out the view of the town, however Karen stole the show.
The other must do tourist item in Skopje is the Millennium Cross. The cable car ride up Vodno Mountain is quite possibly the cheapest in the world, and the view from the top is worth the trip.
Though we were a little nervous about the view when we were at the bottom.
Luckily the clouds cleared and we were treated to great views from the top. Including the construction of a new tower on the mountaintop.
In the early 2010’s Skopje went on a program of enhancements to the city centre. Anyone who has been here has an opinion on it. All I will say is it is interesting. There are influences from many countries. The Monument to the Fallen Heros for Macedonia is a direct take on German monuments. The most obvious, for me, are the horses from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Just down the street is the Triumph Arch celebrating their history with a direct French influence. And of course the endless British style double decker buses supply the British influence (even though they are all built in China)

Macedonia turned out to be an absolute gem for us. We went in knowing very little about the country and its complex history and politics. Unfortunately we were only there a week and visited just two locales but found it to be both enchanting and absorbing. There is so much promise there along with many challenges, I hope they find their way. The next time we are in the region I would not hesitant to come and spend more time here.

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

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