| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Republic of Macedonia is a parliamentary republic, covering 25.713 square kilometres. Of the 2.069.162 citizens, 65% are Christians and 33% Muslims. The currency is Macedonian Denar, worth 0,12 Danish Krone and €0,016. The GDP is US$10.424 billion.
Macedonia has a transitional climate from Mediterranean to continental. The fauna is not that diverse, but here are Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus), Balkan Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica.)and Boar (Sus scrofa).
The flora of Republic of Macedonia is represented by around 210 families, 920 genera, and around 3,700 plant species. I failed to find any I in particular will, be looking for.
13/6. I wake up early anyway, and head for the Bitola centre. Here are many pedestrians streets with cafes and alike, huge green parks and a few modern buildings. The central square have a British clock tower, a church and a mosque. Many of the buildings along the main street is really nice buildings.
A river runs through the town, and on the other side, I find the old town. Narrow alleys, badly maintained buildings and real cosy and interesting. Then I reach the huge market, where you can find everything. Shoos, fruits, electrical items, clothing, nuts, olives, vegetables and right outside, the butchers with cool meat.
I see a building I think is an old mosque, but it contains a modern supermarket. Well camouflaged here! I take a chance with a moccachino-like cup, and find out I have taken more than 90 photos in less than 90 minutes. I better get on. I had Heraclea recommended, and it is only two kilometres outside town.
Heraclea is the remains of an ancient town, but little remains now. I do a tour around, but fail to find the interesting parts. Here are more archaeologists than visitors, and some mosaics is being recovered. Here are a few plants, but more are found outside.
While a walk the gravel road, I meet a local, telling me he have a big house, just around the corner. He is busy right now, but I'm invited to taste his vine another day. I set the GPS for Ohrid, and drive through gentle but yellow hills. Only the pine trees are green in most places.
Then I meet some bigger mountains, and they are covered in trees. Here are a few humble villages, but not that much farming. I reach a plateau, which is green. I do a few stops, but here are not that much new to be found. Then the road head downwards again, and I reach the big city of Ohrid.
On the other side, the walled old town with Car Samoil's Fortress is sitting on a hilltop. The fortress is not big, but the walls really well preserved - or restored. The views to the city, old town and the lake are great, and the old town lures me down. Well, I stop at a cafe for a sandwich, and I succeed to get one without meat AND fries.
In the old walled town , most houses are well preserved, and some of them are covered in flowers. One area is an even older town - or its ruins. A real great church is within the area, and inside, it have a strange design. Underneath is the remains of an older construction. I see most of the area, but now, the sun have gone.
Mavrovo National Park is next on the list, and the way there is through more forest covered mountains. Unfortunately, it starts to rain quite heavily, and it only stops, when I start the decent to Mavrovo Lake. It is a wonderful area, and so rich in plants and insect.
I make several long walks, and
at one place, I find a female European Pond Turtle; Emys orbicularis,
looking for a warm hillside to lay her eggs. A predator tick hunts in the
flowers and several ladybugs pray on the lice.
A stoned guy is not sure here are room for me, but I can shower for free. Unfortunately, the true boss turns up later, but at least, he only charges me 600 dinars for a dorm bed - in an else empty dorm. I go for a walk along the more or less intact houses, and find even more insects. Back to eat, and I had an intention of getting early to bed. Well, that didn't work.
I sit and work till after
midnight, freezing a lot despite I have found my fleece jacket, and only the
thought of a hot shower keep me going. Well, that would have been nice, but
here are no hot water, and I'm so frozen, I don't sleep before after three. Border, Bitola+Heraclea, Ohrid's Car Samoil's Fortress, Mavrovo National Park
14/6. I remain in bed till eight, and then when I hear activity below, I head down and get the water heater started. Half a hour later, I get a not so cold shower, and sets of. I drive around the last three quarters of the lake, but here are not that much new. A single real nice orchid and a brownish flower I don't know. The views to the little town on the other side of Lake Mavrovo are great, and so are the surounding mountains.
Their old church have been partly drowned, but the now one look real nice. On the northern side of the rover, the houses are nicer, some are brand new and real fancy. I reach the dam who have caused the flooding, and behind it is an almost Alpine mountain valley.
The next site is around 100 kilometres north, and as the landscape is just like the one I passed yeaterday, I take the highway. A toll-booth want 40 dinars, and I think that is cheep. The next 30, then 30 and the last 40 - and that is a way to keep the price down.
When I exit the highway, it is through a pond, and I wounder how deep it is. I pass a sign for a camp, and plot it in the GPS. Before I reach the canyon, I see three destinkt layers of mist over the river - never seen that before! Then I reach Lake Matka in the Treska Canyon. I park at the beginning, and walk pass a cayak competision river.
The canyon narrows in, and a small hiking trail is cut into the mountain side. I find some parasitic orchids, several succulents and other interesting plants on the almost barren mountainsides, containg marble and almost-marble. I see a few lizards runing away, but finally, I catch up with one, and it is a Dalmatian Algyroides; Algyroides nigropunctatus. Pretty rare and quite special: The males have a bright blue head.
It start to drizzle a bit, and I turn around. I just reach the fancy restaurant at the river side, when the skies opens. And they have a vegan cause on the menu! Chickpeas with mushrooms in a real creamy and tasty sauce. I get a mug of good black tea, and finish it as the rain stops.
From here, it is a short drive to Skopje. I take the back-roads, but besides from some vegetables, I find nothing real interesting. I can't find the first hotel, and don't really bother, as it is in a bad part of town, and the parking €10 for a day. Next on my list is Hostel 42, and it is great. I get my own room with separate bedroom, hot showers and access to a kitchen.
I check in, and head up to the rather impressive fortress. On the way, I pass over a bridge with four huge bronze lions: Two naturalistic ones, two Soviet-style. I have a longer chat with the unemployed archaeologist, trying to sell guided tours, but see the rather empty fortress on my own. The walls are impressive, and so are the views to the city.
through the area I didn't find a hotel in, and into the huge bazaar. It is
really interesting, and I spend a long time here. Everything is offered, and
I find a gift for my hard workng car: Emblems for the whistlings.
I head back through some interesting areas with even more
bronze statues. Some are huge, some real natural and they are everywhere. I
pass the old bridge and the theatre, but without an umbrella; I rather get
15/6. After some needed sleep. I head straight on towards the Kosovo border, only 20 kilometres away. I am not aloud in straight away, as I apparently have no insurance: The green card does not cover Kosovo. But, in a little sheet I just passed, I can buy one. For €15, I get a certificate, and I'm in.
16/6. Back from Kosovo in the morning, I pass through Macedonia to the Serbian border. The landscape is quite familiar, the weather not that good. I see some of the new Skopje and a bit of misty farmland on the 75 kilometres to the border. It is easy to get out of Kosovo and in to Macedonia.
Macedonia is a nice country, and its history so rich.
Here are great nature, old ruins, nice people and easy to get around. I have
driven only 417 kilometres, taken 673 photos and spend €117. The hotel make
up the €41, and I have stocked food for some time.