Flashback to October 2017…

Entering Macedonia from Albania

Which empire/country do you think of when someone mentions Alexander the Great?



Ok, actually both are correct as Alexander the Great became king of the Grecian empire. But, he was actually born in the country we know as Macedonia today.

Statue of King Phillip II of Macedon the father of Alexander The Great 

And Macedonians are Macedonians…not Greeks…though their history seems rather entangled in most of our minds.

Check out our video below to get a quick overview of our journey into Macedonia…

Crossing the border from Albania into Macedonia was interesting because we ended up staying at a campsite owned by a proud ethnic Albanian family. Yes, we were in Macedonia, and their nationality was technically Macedonian, but they still referred to themselves as Albanians. And immigrating was not the case here…they actually believed that Macedonia should be part of Greater Albania..which at one time or another…it was…and I guess that’s how they ended up where they were.
But Macedonia was also part of Greater Greece..so this gets rather confusing…

But it really doesn’t matter, whether they considered themselves Greek, Albanian, Slavic, Croat or whatever… they were all wonderful folks EXCEPT WHEN WE MET ON THE ROAD…

This was another story all together! Driving in “the Balkans” is EXCITING…

And definitely dangerous in the sense that it’s nigh impossible to predict what they are going to do as they don’t use their signal lights and reversing on a main road to “catch” their missed turn is perfectly acceptable.

They are also usually driving one handed as they are almost always on the phone. Holding a phone while driving is illegal in most of Europe so it was rather fascinating and a bit scary to see everyone from taxis to massive trucks managing their hectic roads one-handed while on the phone.

…This also made us wonder, what sort of phone plan they all had. They seemed to be able to have unlimited phone conversations for unlimited lengths of time…

But despite the dangerous roads, we explored and thoroughly enjoyed Macedonia starting from the south (Lake Ohrid) to the north (Saint Joachim Osogovski Monastary) without a single mishap or accident. 😀

Bird drying it’s feathers @Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

***If you want to know more about Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, read this vivid and interesting post from The Guardian. I found this article when researching about Lake Ohrid and the surrounding town’s history. It is so well written that I decided to just post a link to it here instead of trying to write about it myself.                      https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2010/jan/30/macedonia-kapka-kassabova-lake-ohrid

Macedonia was also the last country we camped in–as winter was fast approaching. Our last few camping nights were spent around our campfire for warmth and we had to borrow thick blankets from the kind owners of our campsite (Camping Rino on the shores of Lake Ohrid)

From a comfortable 15-20 degrees during the day it would drop to 3-1 degrees during the night. And because our sleeping bags are rated for 15 degrees anything under that temperature is uncomfortable–this was the main factor to deciding to end our camping for the year.

Free Coffee and Raki (local moonshine) given to help with the cold weather @campingrino

Watch our video about our stay at Camping Rino below…

After a few days near Lake Ohrid and visiting the nearby towns of  Struga and Vevchani we decided to check out the capital, Skopje.

Holy Mary Perybleptos in Struga, Macedonia

Inside the Church of the Holy Mary Perybleptos

Inside the Church of the Holy Mary Perybleptos

Inside the Church of the Holy Mary Perybleptos

Unknown tomb in front of the Holy Mary Perybleptos

Hiking in the Vevcheni countryside

Most of the capital city is new but some of the old sites have been maintained and left unchanged. Our favorites were the Old Bazaar, the Kale Fortress, the Church of Panteleimon and the Skopje Aqueduct. ***Sorry we don’t have many picture of some these sites please watch OUR VIDEO to get a better look…

Beautiful but Abandoned… @the Skopje Aqueduct

Beautiful but Abandoned… @the Skopje Aqueduct

Beautiful but Abandoned… @the Skopje Aqueduct

The main highlight for me (Marie) was our paragliding experience off Mt. Vodno. It was very easy to organize (booked and scheduled over Whatsapp!) and I think probably THE cheapest place to go paragliding in Europe. It cost us 65euros each, but got it discounted to 120euros for the both of us since it was a week day and not too busy.

We flew with http://www.2glide.com/ and appreciated that they offered to take GoPro footage/pictures of the experience and promised to send them to us within 24 hours. The other para-glide companies didn’t offer this service for free, so we chose them specifically for this reason as we had lost our GoPro a few weeks back.

Watch how the para-glide harness is put on… 😀 😀 😀

We also got to stay at 2 beautiful hotels in Skopje. If you want to take a look and see whether they would be good for your trip to Skopje watch our videos and decide for yourself…

Our last stop was at Saint Joachim Osogovski Monastery. Even though we have seen many churches and cathedrals during our Euro trip it was still breathtaking seeing this small ancient Orthodox church in the middle of a quaint mountain town.

The only sound we heard was the wind and the prayers being read/chanted over the speakers. The energy we felt, while sitting on one of the many outdoor benches surrounding the church, made this religious site special and somehow more alive than some of the other larger places of worship we have visited.

Saint Joachim Osogovski Monastry, Macedonia

If there’s one lasting impression that we were left with when leaving Macedonia it would have to be it’s rich & overflowing religious heritage. From paragliding off Mt. Vodno with the 66 meter Millennium cross in the background (watch our video to see the Millennium Cross during the sunset) to entering numerous ancient holy places (Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim alike) filled with devotion and reverence so sincere you can almost feel it…

Once you have visited Macedonia you will understand why it sometimes called the Jerusalem of the Balkans.