Timezone: Europe/Skopje (18th Aug 18:08)

Currently is in transit (for 11 hours, 1 minute, and 48 seconds)

You may know me from..

Last ate 1 day, 7 hours, 28 minutes, and 24 seconds ago (Bread with nayo and not-cheese; blackberry jam; almonds, apple, hazelnut butter; coffee)

Last exercised 2 days, 10 minutes, and 5 seconds ago

Monthly budget 112% used (last spent 2680rsd on Bus from Belgrade to Skopje)

Words written this month (423 of posts and fiction)

As my very last week in Skopje commences, I discovered (from the nice people at Vegan 365 Kitchen) that Violife is sold at Ramstore supermarkets in the 3 big malls (Skopje City Mall, Ramstore Mall, and another I forgot). Just in time for it to be too late for me to buy cheese, especially as I picked some up in Croatia last week.

🏷 balkans skopje vegan food travel

🗁Added 99 photos to album Pristina, Aug 2019.

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A day and a night in Pristina, which is a 2 hour and ~€5 bus ride from Skopje. There's pro-American sentiment like I've never seen anywhere, and pro-EU sentiment is visible too. Kosovo uses the euro and is populated by 90% Albanian Muslims; Albanian is the most commonly spoken language, but despite the 5% Serb makeup Serbian is technically an official language as well. Pristina is a vibrant city with lots of new buildings and modern amenities, despite the tiny population, tiny budget, and enormous unemployment rate.

I wandered up and down the pedestrianised and cafe-lined Mother Teresa Boulevard in the daytime and evening, and always it was buzzing with young people and families.

Of course I checked out the various famous statues and monuments: Bill Clinton's statue; the Yugoslav Memorial to Brotherhood and Unity; Skanderberg on a horse in the main square; the New Born installation; the Heroinat monument to the 20,000 women raped during the Kosovo war.

And distinctive buildings: the University and City library (a blocky brutalist alien piece of architecture that is supposed to simultaneously invoke Byzantine forms, the domes of Turkish hammams, all draped in a giant fishing net); the Youth Palace sports center; the unfinished Serbian Orthodox church on the university campus; the Mother Teresa Catholic cathedral; the old bazaar clock tower which never works; the Stone Mosque.

There are lots of interesting museums in Pristina, most of which are free, but all are closed on Mondays.

I spent 2.5 hours on a very informative walking tour.

And ate at Dit e Nat vegetarian cafe, Green & Protein health food place, and Babaganoush vegetarian falafel joint. Failed to find baklava, but did get Turkish coffee and some probably-maybe-lost-in-translation vegan treats from a coffeehouse near the Grand Hotel.

🗁Added 55 photos to album Macedonia, July 2019.

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A hike up to the Golden Cross above Matka Canyon. Back down for a swim in freezing water, welcomed into the higgledy piggeldy artist's house on the rocks by the aging hippie rocker resident and his robot butler. Then the several hour walk home through suburban Skopje, having missed the bus.

🗁Added 112 photos to album Macedonia, July 2019.

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Kayaking in Matka Canyon, for about 3 hours, including a visit to possibly the deepest cave in Europe, much of which is unexplored.

And food at some random restaurants in the Canyon, built into the cliff walls.

🗁Added 72 photos to album Macedonia, July 2019.

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The 7+ hour hike from Skopje city center, over Mount Vodno, to Matka Canyon. It was a little more arduous than expected, and the trails weren't so well marked. A good portion of the route was under construction, with roads being widened by diggers and signs up to say people shouldn't walk there. There was no other way to walk though.. Circumvented the construction areas when possible.

Took a more direct option for the last stretch leading to Sveti Nikola Church, high above the canyon, which turned out to be a very challenging downward scramble that didn't let up. It was a narrow trail that was laced with spider webs and catapillars dangling from silk threads. I was completely wrapped in them by the time I made it to the church. It was a serious relief to get there and find a cool water spring and places to sit there. From Sveti Nikola down to the water was a bit less hazardous but equally webby and steep.

The Matka Canyon hotel was on the opposite bank (along with all other traces of human civilisation), and a friendly boat man gave people a free ride over. If you start on the other side, it seems, it's a 30mkd return trip.

The hotel room was in the attic; small and with no AC but with a beautiful view over the lake and surrounding cliffs. To my immense surprise the hotel restaurant also had a labelled vegan option! All quite overpriced though.

Week in review: 15 - 21 July

  • Bussed from Tirana to Skopje, new home for at least a month.
  • Ran around Skopje in the rain.
  • Wandered around Skopje in the sun.
  • Discovered 50% of vegan restaurants are closed for the summer.
  • Did some work on BODS infrastructure.
  • Ordered new (secondhand) headphones, but won't get them until the end of September.
  • Worked out logistics to get my new (secondhand) laptop to me in August.
  • Worked on a topic paper to RWOT9.
  • Went to the archaelogical museum and cinema (Spiderman Far From Home) to get out of the heat.

🏷 skopje macedonia week in review travel life rwot9 tourism