Sadly for Skopje it has the ignoble honour of being the first place I've really disliked. I can't wait to get out of here.
I arrive at the bus station almost 2 hours before the bus I'd been planning to take, hoping there might be an earlier one running. There isn't. I buy my ticket and decide to head 5 minutes back up the road to the shopping centre to grab an early lunch and avail myself of the free wifi. The bus station is dark, dingy and depressing. I have no desire to spend more time there than I have to.
One o'clock draws near, and I'm back at the station waiting for the bus to arrive. To my dismay what pulls up is a kombi - a minibus. "Maybe it won't be so bad," I tell myself as I stow my backpack in the luggage compartment and clamber on board.
Passengers keep getting on until we run out of seats. The driver ushers two passengers to sit up front next to him. No space on the floor for my daypack so it's on my lap. The passenger next to me is squeezed up against me. I look around and realise none of the windows open. I'm hot and bothered already and we haven't even left the station. Something tells me the next 3 hours are going to be tough.
I manage to distract myself for the first hour by focusing on the views passing by my window. The man next to me doesn't even take his jacket off until half an hour has passed - and he has long sleeves on underneath. I have short sleeves on from the start and I already feel like I'm melting. I marvel at the fact he hasn't passed out.
At the halfway mark we stop in a mountain pass for a 10 minute break. Thank goodness. I stand next to the kombi, my eyes closed, focusing on the cool breeze against my skin. I really don't want to get back on to continue the journey. I mentally rename our kombi (sweatbox-on-wheels) and get back on. Ohrid had better be worth this!
Just as I think I can't take anymore (must toughen up) we pull to the side of the road in Ohrid. The driver explains that we can get off here for Ohrid centre if we want, save us walking the 2km back from the station on the outskirts of town. I can't get off the bus fast enough!
An hour later, having found my 'home' for the next 2 nights and taken some time to wind down, I head out into Ohrid to wander down to the harbour and get a feel for the town.
Almost immediately I fall in love with Ohrid, all the stresses from Skopje and the journey here forgotten. I feel so relaxed. Ohrid has the charm that Skopje so badly lacked, it's chilled out, in a beautiful setting, and it just feels human again. Peaceful. Wonderful.
Wandering along gently winding cobbled lanes I slowly make my way in the general direction of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo, an old church on a rocky outcrop overlooking Lake Ohrid. I've been gradually making my way uphill, and I'm fairly sure I'm heading in the right direction, but until I spot it I'm not sure. I can't get over how beautiful it is here; I've not been making very fast progress because I keep stopping to marvel at it all.
After visiting the church I walk up the hillside behind it for a different view. I perch on a stone wall and just sit, watching the colours change as the sun sinks behind the mountain and dusk turns to night.
I wonder if anybody will notice if I just stay here.