Macedonia

Posted in: English Sep 17 2015

After some few kilometers i arrived in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. 3 Campsites were marked on my map. Unfortunately two of them don’t excist anymore. Coincidentally i met a cyclist couple on the road. Annette and Cord showed me the way to the third Campsite. This one is based byside a highway and a very loud night club. Also the infrastructure leaves much to be desired. After two nights i moved to a Hostel.

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Tania, a friend from Switzerland, visited me the next day. She decided to cycle with me from Skopje to Athens. First we visited the city. The city developed rapidly after World War II, but this trend was interrupted in 1963 when it was hit by a disastrous earthquake. In 1991, it became the capital city of an independent Macedonia. Skopje, as the Republic of Macedonia as a whole, is characterised by a large ethnic diversity. The city is located in a region where Ethnic Albanians and Macedonians meet, and it welcomed Romani, Turks, Jews and Serbs throughout its history.

According to the 2002 census, 68.5% of the population of Skopje belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church, while 28.6% of it belonged to Islam. The city also had a Roman Catholic (0.5%) and Protestant (0.04%) minorities.

The city centre was considered as a grey and unattractive place when local authorities unveiled the „Skopje 2014“ project in 2010. It made plans to erect a large number of statues, fountains, bridges, and museums at a cost of about €500 million. The project has generated controversy: critics have described the new landmark buildings as signs of reactionary historicist aesthetics. The scheme is accused of turning Skopje to a theme park, which is viewed as nationalistic kitsch, and has made Skopje an example to see how national identities are constructed and how this construction is mirrored in the urban space.

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We decided for a secluded route through Macedonia. Media reported also about large movements of refugees at the border in Gevgelija. Hungary is building a safety fence which should be completed by the end of August. Therefore currently trying many to cross the border before the work has been completed.

Cycling on the main roads in Macedonia is not recommended. But whenever you leave to smaller roads, things change into a cyclists dream. Roads with little traffic and landscapes like of a Karl May novel.

On our second day in Štip, a small town, a man asked us to take some pictures. Vanco was born here and lives now in Brisbane, Australia. He invited us directly for a lunch in his mothers home. They offered us to take a shower after the delicious meal.

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A small track along the Mantovo- and Vodocha Lake was marked in our map. Some cows blocked the road. The farmer couldn’t speak English. But he immediately called his nephew, which picked us up on the road some few meters later. Igor and his friends invited us immediately. His brother came up with a few freshly caught fishs. They cooked them over a wood fire. I ate 3 pieces of it. They were so delicious. Thereafter Igor showed us his village called Gabrevtsi. All the people there welcomed us with open arms. Especially the old women had huge joy at Tania.

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Igor recommended us a small road to the Vodocha Lake. Tania needs a coffee every morning. Otherwise she can be very uncomfortable. Fortunately for us, we were invited into a shop the next morning in Rich. One of the guests is the chief from the nearby quarry. We stopped there for a factory tour and another cup of coffee.

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Two villages later we wanted to fill up our stocks. The shop was closed. But that’s not a problem in Macedonia. A pedestrian called immediately the owner. This time we were invited by the ladies of the village. They showered us with gifts. With heavy bags we went outside the village and put up our tent for the last time in Macedonia.

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Finally, after many days, we could cycle more then 10km per day. We reached the Dojran Lake very soon. It’s a famous place for natives. The beaches were full of bathers. We made it to the boarder of Greece and left Macedonia wistful.

Macedonia was for both of us a very positiv surprise. The hospitality of these people had us sometimes almost bowled. We would like to thank everyone, who had welcomed us with open arms. You’re amazing!