Monday, November 14, 2022

North Macedonia September 2022

Friday, September 16. Goran, our driver, picked us up at 10:00 am. I like this DayTrip App. We will be traveling from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Skopje, North Macedonia, about a three-and-a-half hour drive. We will cross a time zone and gain an hour.
Goran suggested we make a short stop before crossing the Bulgarian North Macedonia border to see one of the oldest bridges in Bulgaria, built in the 600s.
As we continued our drive, Goran asked, "Will you visit Matka Canyon?" We asked, "What is Matka Canyon?"
Goran’s answer “I will take you.”
About 15 Kilometers west of Skopje resides Matka Canyon. A beautiful canyon with a river flowing through it. A hydroelectric dam on the river provides all the electricity for Skopje.
A good friend of Goran, named Dane, lives in a cave. The cave is on the bank of the river. Dane claims to be one of the best artists in the universe. His claim to fame (at least he says so) is that his art is hanging in Madonna’s home.
Dane is a very eccentric man.
We reached Skopje at 3 o'clock. We grabbed some lunch and walked around Skopje before going on a nightlife tour.
We learned a few interesting facts on our nightlife tour.
Most of the new part of the city, was destroyed in the 1963 earthquake.
When rebuilt, the buildings were designed to make it through an earthquake, but they were not anything to look at.
The oldest bridge in Europe connects the new part of Skopje to the old.
In 2010, the Prime Minister started a project called the 2014 project. This project was to rebuild the square in the new city and make it a tourist destination. What we saw has been built since 2010 but made to look like the style of times gone by.
That Prime Minister now resides in Budapest, Hungry, with the millions of dollars he siphoned from the project.
The project is named the 2014 project, because that was when it was supposed to be completed. Today, some buildings are still being worked on.
The last fact, please let me know if you know this, Mother Theresa was born In Skopje.
We finished the tour at the top of the fortress, but unfortunately, it was too dark for pictures.

This morning we took a walking tour of Skopje. We learned a bit about why things are changing in “North” Macedonia.
For several years Macedonia has been trying to get into the European Union (EU). To be accepted, they need to win the vote of other EU countries. Without going into great detail, they have been forced to add “North” before their name. No, this request did not come from Kim and Kanye. They had to change their flag. You can Google to find out why. North Macedonia has spent ten years trying to get into the EU.
If you visit North Macedonia, when speaking with locals, refer to the country as Macedonia. They are not happy about being forced to add "North" to their country's name.
It is sunny 300 out of the 365 days a year. We showed up on one of the 65 rainy days.

As you will see, there are countless statues and sculptures in the city center. Most have been commissioned since 2010. Some represent Macedonian History, but many are copies of things the past Prime Minister saw in his travels.
Of course, there is a copy of the Arc de Triomphe.
We walked by the old train station. Notice the time on the clock. Five—seventeen, this is the time the 1963 earthquake happened. If you look closely to the left, you can see that side of the train station collapsed. The remaining section of the train station has been converted into a museum. The clock was never fixed.
In this earthquake, thousands died and over 200,000 people were left homeless.
We walked by the new Orthodox Church that is being built.
Similar to last night, we walked through the old city. There is one street where almost every shop is a gold and jewelry store.
We stopped and had a traditional lunch in the old section. All this food plus some takeaway items and a tip for 15.00 USD.
In my Bulgaria update I mentioned while Bulgaria was on the wrong side of history, they were able to protect the Bulgarian Jewish people. While this is true, we learned a bit more about the history and how Bulgarians treated the Jewish People, particularly the ones that lived outside of Bulgaria.
Before World War Two, there was a population of 7,000 Jewish People, like in Bulgaria they came to Macedonia when Spain asked them to leave.
Today, there are about 250 Jewish People left in Macedonia. During World War Two, the Bulgarians used their trains to transport the Jewish People from Macedonia to the concentration camps in Poland to be executed.

The Bulgarians are not as innocent as they wanted us to believe.
They even have statues of homeless people.
Before going to sleep, we went for a short walk, or at least we thought it would be a short walk in the square. As we returned to the apartment, we saw the road our apartment was on was closed. There was a 40 lap (approximately one kilometer per lap) bike race. Forty minutes later, we were able to cross the street and return home.

Tomorrow we depart Macedonia for Kosovo, but there is a chance we will be back.

Stay tuned,




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