Blew off Bitola – Sampling Skopje

I was awake at 6.00am today, thanks to the flippin neighbouring rooster crowing it’s head off! I figured that if I was awake anyway, I may as well get an early start. So I left the Meteora region before 8.00am this morning.

Rather than drive the whole way to Skopje in the Former Yugolslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), I thought I’d break the journey into two legs and spend a night in Bitola. I even booked a hostel for the equivalent of 11 Euros. However, when I got to Bitola, I couldn’t find the hostel. I spent at least an hour trying to find it. Then I spent more time trying to find other hotels/hostels. The Garmin was taking me in circles, and trying to take me up one way streets the wrong way. In the end, I got so frustrated that I decided I’d rather be driving to Skopje that going round and round in circles. So I entered Skopje into the Garmin and left Bitola behind. I subsequently contacted the hostel and they graciously decided not to charge me for the cancelled booking.

Once I was behind the wheel of the Defender on the open road, all was well with the world again! The frustration was forgotten. Then the mountains came into view and life was good!

Mountain views on the drive to Skopje
Mountain views on the drive to Skopje

Once I was getting close to Skopje, I pulled into a service area that advertised it was a wifi spot (it wasn’t). Whilst there, a motorist asked if I could help to jump his battery as it was flat. Of course, I wouldn’t refuse a request for help, but it isn’t as simple as popping the hood/bonnet on a Defender. The batteries are under the passenger seat – and my jumper cables were in the side locker. Anyway, I accessed the batteries and connected up the cables but as soon as I heard the dead click from the other car, I knew that the problem wasn’t his battery. It was his starter motor. And it turned out that the other driver works for a Land River dealer in Serbia (but wasn’t driving a Land Rover). Anyway, I told him what his problem was and we rocked the car back and forth in gear to free the starter motor, after which the car fired up.

GPS track from Meteora, north  to Skopje (via Bitola)
GPS track from Meteora, north to Skopje (via Bitola)

I continued on to Skopje and booked into the Stone Bridge Hotel – next to Skopje’s most well known landmark (the Stone Bridge). Once I’d checked in and got my luggage sorted out, I went for a walk around the city to get my bearings. Later, as the sun was going down, there was perfect light for photos so I wandered along the river bank taking advantage of the light. The ‘moody’ sky also helped to contribute to some nice photos. I was very happy with the photos I was able to take (hope you like them).

The Stone Bridge Hotel
The Stone Bridge Hotel
Skopje Fortress with the 'Water Supply' building at left (under renovation)
Skopje Fortress with the ‘Water Supply’ building at left (under renovation)
Skopje Fortress
Skopje Fortress
The Stone Bridge with the Archeological Museum of Macedonia behind (at left)
The Stone Bridge with the Archeological Museum of Macedonia behind (at left)
The Stone Bridge
The Stone Bridge
Sculpture of a diving girl
Sculpture of a diving woman
Archeological Museum of Macedonia
Archeological Museum of Macedonia
Bridge to the Archeological Museum
Bridge to the Archeological Museum
The bridge to the Archeological Museum features statues of significant people in the history of Macedonia
The bridge to the Archeological Museum features statues of significant people in the history of Macedonia
Duke Prebond (7th century AD) - one of the statues on the bridge to the Archeological Museum
Duke Prebond (7th century AD) – one of the statues on the bridge to the Archeological Museum
Bridge to the Public Prosecutions and Financial Police (round building) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Bridge to the Public Prosecutions and Financial Police (round building) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The bridge to the Public Prosecutions Building features statues of writers, poets, composers and actors
The bridge to the Public Prosecutions Building features statues of writers, poets, composers and actors
This jovial fellow is Petre Prlichko, an actor who lived from 1907 to 1995
This jovial fellow is Petre Prlichko, an actor who lived from 1907 to 1995
Minaret of the Murat Pasha Mosque (1802)
Minaret of the Murat Pasha Mosque (1802)
Mustafa Pasha Mosque (1492)
Mustafa Pasha Mosque (1492)
Lots of narrow lanes to explore in the old town
Lots of narrow lanes to explore in the old town

Afterwards, I wandered around to find a vantage point for sunset photos. Unfortunately, the sunset wasn’t spectacular, so it was a lot of waiting around without much to show.

Sun setting over the sports stadium in Skopje
Sun setting over the sports stadium in Skopje
A lot of waiting but not much of a sunset to show for it!
A lot of waiting but not much of a sunset to show for it!

Then it was time for dinner at a city restaurant and then back to the hotel with a couple of beers to upload some photos. On the way to the hotel, I saw a police Defender parking up. I asked if I could photograph it, but was denied!!

Skopje is giving off a great vibe and I’m looking forward to spending tomorrow exploring the city! Trouble is, there’s so much to see and I only have one day left!

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