Gord & Val 's 2017 Balkans Trip travel blog

Center city, Skopje

Skopje fountain

We left Ohrid behind this a.m. and took the northern mountainous route to Skopje. We drove through narrow forested valleys. Some widened a little to allow small farms to flourish along with little villages. We could see a freeway being constructed across the valley in the center.

On hills there were passing lanes on the up side. On one as we came down the hill a car going up jumped tne gun and pulled out just before the passing lane started. He came so close to hitting us! Gord turned for the ditch and slammed on brakes...another life gone.

When we reached Gostivar the valley widened. A large red brick city appeared and we turned east to head the last few miles to Skopje. It did not take long to wind into the center of town, find a parking spot and have lunch, walk to a park with an olympic theme....complete with the eternal flame.

After we walked through the bery modern shopping center to the main square. It is surrounded with statues of men and horses. The 14th century stone bridge has been spared but 2 other bridges are lined with statues. Fountains with horses or lions or Romans or Alexander the Great, are here. St Clement has his place. Sayings from Mother Theresa adorn the walls of Alexander of Macedon's Palace....the archeology museum. Round, square, narrow, columned, or copper roofed buildings surround the square. I found it a bit overdone.

In the river sit 2 galleons cum restaurants. They with their sails seem out of place.

We walked back to our car and as Pristina Kosovo is only 88 kms away we decided to spend the night there. We forgot the border crossing. There we spent an hour watching people fudge lines, people refusing to let cars in, an accident (2 cars collided when one got through the border and another tried or maybe didn't see the car. The front tire on one was flattened, on the other his bumper is a little worse for wear...no one was hurt) and finally it was our turn. Kosovo is not recognizing anything Serbian sooo we had to park and go back to no man's land and buy Kosovoan car insurance for 2 weeks. We plan to leave Kosovo tomorrow. 2 weeks is the minimum.

From here it was a "short" drive to Pristina. Or maybe not. It took 1 1\2 hours to drive 60 kms. And what fun!

The drivers are crazy! Thr road is a reasonable 2 lane highway. No passing lanes and for the most part flat. The speed limit is 50 -60 through villages...there are almost continuous little villages (they had their names on signs). People drove fast, passed often even if a car was coming. We were always pulling over, slowing down. Even buses passed. We were glad to reach Pristina in one peice...yes someone played chicken withus a second time and just made it in. By the time we got to Pristina Gord was emulating the Kosovoans and passing too! The 88 kms took 3 1/2 hours.

We found a hotel close to the center. Soon we will go explore and have dinner.

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