After a quick stop at Gracanica yesterday, we got our 10 tickets (for 5 euros each) at the Pristina Bus Station for the 2 hour bus ride to Skopje.
We got on a 3pm bus, which reached the Kosovo/Macedonian border at around 4:30pm.
A Kosovo border guard comes onboard to collect your passports, stamp you out and then the process repeats itself with a Macedonian border guard to stamp you in.
We arrived into Skopje Bus Station at 5pm.
After getting our stuff settled in at nearby Shanti Hostel, we decided to take it easy with a wonderful riverside dinner at Kej Restaurant.
Then we sauntered along the Vardar River as night fell, becoming allured and pleasantly surprised at the unfolding magical lights of Skopje.
With speakers on every Victorian style streetlight playing atmospheric orchestral music from Hollywood movies and larger than life statues placed every 5 feet, it felt like we were strolling through a Balkan version of Las Vegas.
Once we reached Stone Bridge — the symbol of the city and built in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian — we reached the center of the city.
To the north is Old Bazaar which welcomes you with The Monument to Olimpija, The Mother of Aleksandar Makedonski and Monument to Philip of Macedonia behind it:
If you keep going further into Old Bazaar, you’ll have at your fingertips the city’s unlimited café nightlife on a Wednesday night.
The most happening place were the hookah bars along Jorgandziska, where we chose Café Harem to chill out.
We stayed here until midnight, after which we walked back to Macedonia Square to check out the humongous 26m high Alexander The Great Memorial.
The official name of the statue is Warrior On A Horse so to not piss off the Greeks; Greece still claims Macedonia (and Alexander The Great) as part of their own land, which is why in turn the official name of Macedonia is also FYROM: The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia.
We were reminded of this a lot when Sidian, who’s Greek, was traveling with us during Week 1. This paragraph’s for you man.
And a short walk away is the Macedonia Gate, resembling the Arc de Triomphe and dedicated to 20 years of Macedonian independence:
And after that, we headed back at 1am to catch a late night viewing of the latest Game of Thrones episode before heading to bed.
The next morning we woke up at around 10am and headed out to explore the city by day, the first stop being the Assembly Of The Republic Of Macedonia:
Nearby is the Memorial House To Mother Teresa, as she was born here in Skopje. It is free to enter.
Upstairs is a humble glass chapel that has views over some new construction in the area.
Behind the memorial house stands a Feudal Tower. Nobody knows why it was built just that it was built a long time ago. Fittingly, or ironically, it was a souvenir shop now turned abandoned building.
After a quick lunch in this area, we then had to say goodbye to Anthony as he had to catch a 3:30pm flight home. We’ll miss ya and your snarkiness!
We then walked along the pedestrian mall further towards Warrior On a House, crossing Stone Bridge, and into Old Bazaar.
Our first stop in Old Bazaar was to see the Church of the Ascension Of Jesus, which costs 120 denars to enter.
Around the corner, we checked out Chifte Hamam, a 15th century hamam that was built by a Bosnian general and is now a modern art gallery.
Next to the hamam is Suli An, a former 15th century caravansarai that has been turned into an Academy of Fine Arts and history museum.
A few paces northwest from Suli An is renovated 15th century Mustafa Pasha’s Mosque.
Then we crossed the street and hiked 5 minutes up the small hill of Skopje Fortress to get city views of Skopje. The city’s museum of contemporary art is also here, although it was closed when we visited.
We then snaked around the north side to Kurshumli An, another 15th century Ottoman caravanserai that was formerly both an inn and a prison.
Finally, we exited Old Bazaar and wandered through a covered market. . .
. . . before crossing the main boulevard on an elevated walkway . . .
. . . to try to check out Sultan Murat Mosque. However, this one was under renovations and we couldn’t go inside. Therefore, we headed back south to the hostel and took a 30 minute cab ride for 500 denars to Matka Lake.
About a 10 minute hike up the road you can either kick back at any of its numerous restaurants or pay a couple hundred denars to kayak down the lake to see some caves.
The kayak ride takes about 30-40 minutes each way.
We then haggled return cabs for 450 denars per cab back to Skopje city center, returning by 8pm, where we showered up and then headed back out for a late dinner and salsa at one of the party boats.
And somehow it would be today where I would stupidly leave my GoPro behind while being distracted paying for the kayaks, AND THEN my damn’ ATM card while taking out cash an hour later. Total freaking brain farts. I deserve it.
. . . and alas, I must remind myself these are still first world problems and such tragic losses may be the necessary sacrifices for a good trip . . .either way thank goodness I had transferred the photos from the GoPro right before losing it!
- At time of posting in Skopje, Macedonia, it was 13 °C - Humidity: 65% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear