After my lovely few days in Belgrade, I traversed the Serbian landscape by bus, passing village by village until I reached Skopje.
Truly, if I did not know what to expect in Belgrade, I knew even less about Skopje. This time though, I had an old friend to meet me there and to show me around her beautiful city.
As is to be expected, I fell in love with the place, as I do. Skopje was an incredible clash of cultures, religions and of old and new. On one side of the bridge, Macedonians lived amongst newly erected monuments and cosmopolitan restaurants. On the other side of the bridge stood the magnificent old town, the Albanian side, with its winding streets, mosques and Nargile bars.
Exploring both sides of Skopje was an amazing experience, and having my friend and her sister with me allowed me to truly relax and enjoy what this world had to offer.
First, we visited the Millennium Cross which presides over the city. Newly built, the cross sits at the top of the Vodno mountain, a testament to the Orthodox people of Macedonia. You can get to the Millennium Cross on a lift which brings you to the top where you can enjoy a coffee at the outdoor cafe, play on the playground (if your a child) or take a stroll on some of the trails. At night, the cross lights up and you can see it from anywhere in the city, as any Macedonian will point out to you wherever you might be.
The weather was perfect and I took my blazer off to see if I could get a quick tan in.
In the city, you can enjoy the endless array of new monuments, though people are still getting used to who is who and which building is the museum and which is the theatre. It’s quite the sight and with two charming and humorous tour guides, it was quite the experience.
On the other side of the bridge is the Old Town, and the Albanian side of the city. Here, the call to prayer resonates across the cobble stone streets and mosques sprinkle the horizon. From the Kale, the fortress of the city, the call to prayer takes your breathe away as you overlook all of Skopje and contemplate the history. As one mosque begins the call, the next one follows, and the next and the next, until there is an echoing song that rises above the city. From the ruins of the fortress, it was a unique experience.
Another stop in the Old Town was the Old Bazaar. It was reminiscent of Istanbul, only smaller and more quaint. I bought some things here and there but mostly just took it all in, the sounds and smells.
Next was a deadly stop, to the bakery.
And more delicious food would follow…
My trip to Skopje was much needed. Being around friends helped to rejuvenate my soul and inspire my heart. Speaking with the lovely roommates of my friend was delightful and light hearted. Waking up to the Macedonian sun and enjoying a cup of Turkish coffee on the patio, with the Millennium Cross just above, was all the relaxation I could have hoped for. After the energetic pace of Belgrade, Skopje made me feel at home and comfortable. No doubt, my friend and her sister made it the wonderful experience that it was. Xoxoxo