Snow in Macedonia

Curious, what I did for new year? We didn’t manage to go to Macedonia, due to our little illnesses and the lack of buses on the last day of the year. So we spent new year in a very nice pub in Sofia.

Finally we managed to go to Macedonia on January 1st and stayed there until the evening of January 5th and then had a long uncomfortable night in a small bus. There’s so much I would tell about, but I try to be short (and pregnant – sorry – that’s a joke that only german-speaking people understand). Short, because I don’t have so much time, and I don’t want to bore you.

One word about politics. There’s a dispute going on about the name of the country (read more on Wikipedia). Due to the non-acceptance of their constitutional name (Republic of Macedonia), Macedonia has currently nearly no chances to join any national federations, people even need visas to travel to most – even their neighbouring – countries.

Before I traveled to Macedonia the dispute was more or less the only thing that I knew about this country. But it’s really worth to get to know it, it has a very interesting history. Most of our trip we spent in Ohrid, laying in the south-west of the country on a lake with the same name. It’s a little town with beautiful old city centre with small historic buildings. In medieval times it was an important ecclesiastic centre, thanks to Clement of Ohrid, which might have been inventor of the cyrillic alphabet, but at least was student of Cyrill and Methodius. Since 1980 the town and the lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the day after we arrived it started snowing, and it only stopped for short times. I felt rather crazy to visit sight seeing spots in deep snow, but we had our fun with it (and fortunately good shoes).

We’ve also seen some more Macedonian cities: Skopje, Bitola and Prilep. Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is a modern city with a lively pedestrian zone (and currently pompous christmas lights, sponsored by T-Mobile). There’s also a Turkish bazaar with little shops in little houses. Although Skopje has a long history there are not many old buildings left, because most of them have been destroyed in an earthquake in 1963. Bitola is a small town, not far away from Ohrid. It has a long pedestrian road with colourful little houses and a populated bazaar. Of Prilep we haven’t seen a lot, we just spend some hours there before we went back to Skopje. But there’s a huge bazaar too.

Accomodation was one mayor issue on our trip. CouchSurfing is not very popular in Macedonia yet, so we couldn’t find a couch. But at least we met one girl in Ohrid (who we had asked for a place in Skopje) with her friends. In Skopje, where we stayed one night, we met the guy from the reception of the hostel we were searching for on the street. He just came back from buying some candles, because they had no electricity. We stayed there anyway, because it looked very nice there, illuminated by candles. There was a group of Croatians who came for new year and we had some nice talks with them. On the next day, with a different person on the reception and with electric lights, the place didn’t look so friendly.

In Ohrid finding a accomodation was not so easy. At the bus station several people waited who offered accomodation or taxi rides, but we said we want to stay at a hostel and we gonna walk there. Finally one old lady walked with us, because she had the same direction. All the way she tried to offer us her apartment, but we stayed firm. She was friendly, so we asked her for her phone number. Which was a really good idea, because the other places were either full or not opened due to winter. And one place (which somebody on the street offered) we didn’t like at all. Finally we got nervous to get accomodation, because it already got 10pm (we arrived there at 8pm) and decided to take her offer … but she didn’t take the phone any more. We finally found some place which was not that bad, but had no window to the outside and was more expensive (15 EUR instead of 10 EUR). On the next day we finally reached the lady and were happy to take her offer. It was an apartement in a brand new building for second homes … it looked quite good, but you could see that it was actually cheaply build.

So. The three days that I stayed in Sofia now very quite busy, on Tuesday morning when I read my emails I found out that I and my group from university have to give a presentation on Wednesday – after bad sleep in bus, I was really not in the mood to do this, but I managed anyway. On Thursday I wrote an exam for AutoCAD (I just wanted to ask my professor some questions, but he offered I can take the exam right away) and I think it went pretty well. And tomorrow I’m going to Veliko Tarnovo in the morning and in the evening to Istanbul. We will stay until Monday evening there and then I’m planning to visit a friend in Shivschtov. I want to be back in Sofia on Thursday, because one of my flat mates gives a concert that day.

I hope you like my pictures and my short story (maybe it’s not that short? There would still be much to tell about – delayed trains, friendly people, crazy dogs, slippery snow, old cars, turkish coffee, good tourist info, strange movie, …). I can at least offer you more pictures … Visit my photopages – maybe I should publish more pictures there anyway.

A small map showing our route (Data from OpenStreetMap)

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