Bus-ing Round the Balkans travel blog




My morning gets off to a bit of a boring start, as I set off to find the bus station and check the timetables for my onward trips to Ohrid and Pristina. I'm finding Macedonia harder work than the preceding countries. For one, there's very little that isn't written in cyrillic, even less that is in English. The key words I had learnt by the time I left Serbia aren't helping me here either, and I struggle to make sense of the signs in the station. I eventually figure out enough to know there will be a bus for Ohrid at 1pm. Good enough for now.

I return to the centre of Skopje to give it another chance. Maybe I was just tired yesterday, and it wasn't as crazy as I perceived at the time.

Instead, as I branch out beyond the main square I discover even more over the top monuments and statues. Evidently there's no escaping them. Having had my fill I turn around and head towards Kameni Most, intending to visit Carsija (the old turkish quarter and bazaars) and Kale fortress overlooking the city.

As I reach the bridge I discover that what I thought were disused pipes in the river are actually more fountains. Just when you think a place can't get any more ridiculous they switch on their river's water features. There are two sets either side of the bridge. I really can't comprehend the excesses of this city.

Carsija fails to impress. It just feels run down, neglected, tacky. Charmless. I think back to Sarajevo, and for a moment wish I was back there. Heck, I think even Luton has more charm than this.

By this point I'm wondering if I should have bought some of the "anti stress" fruit juice I saw in the supermarket earlier.

I do enjoy walking along the ramparts at Tvrdina Kale Fortress. For all the things I haven't liked about Skopje, there's no denying that it's in a beautiful location - surrounded as it is by mountains. Kale is much smaller than Kalemegdan in Belgrade, and I have it to myself most of the time I'm there. Suits me just fine, I need a break from the frenzied city below.

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