In Mavrovo national park we got a glimpse of the Korab, the highest mountain in both Albania and North Macedonia. But before we could get any closer, the weather changed and became cloudy for several days. Being unable to see any mountains at all, we gave up (for now). We decided to go to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. The weather was better there. We rented an apartment for 2 nights. The apartment wasn’t much but we could park the van at a secure private parking space and they allowed pets. We also took full advantage of the hot shower. The van has an outdoor shower and for the past week we had temperatures below 10ºC, so….
Skopje is a nice city and not too big. It has a lot of museums, monuments, churches and several shopping malls. Skopje is more modern than Tirana. We visited the house of mother Theresa, she was born on that spot. It has a beautiful pattern of white doves on the outside and a statue of mother Theresa, beautiful in it’s simplicity. It was unfortunately closed for reasons unknown.
We walked across the Macedonian square and across the old stone bridge thagt spans the Vadar river into the old bazaar. The old bazaar houses have brightly coloured stores and a lot of jewellery shops. It is mostly an Islamic area, where the rest of Skopje is more orthodox Christian.
We also visited the church of the ascension of Jesus, which has bright colourful frescoes on the inside. And incredible detailed wooden carvings all throughout the church. The frescoes and the wood carvings tell the story of Jesus. They found an original fresco from the 14th century, but most were created in the 18th and 19th century, because a fire and later an earthquake destroyed much of the church. The church was build partly underground, because of an old rule that states that churches can not be higher than mosques.
We walked back to the more modern part of town where we had lunch at one of the shopping malls. A traditional pide, which is a fresh baked bread with meat. At the apartment we ate some take away Chinese and watched tv. Both things we haven’t enjoyed for several months. Chinese food in Macedonia differs from the Dutch Chinese food, but it tasted good all the same.
After two days in the city we were glad to be back home again, in our van and in nature. And of course so was Binkie who really is an outdoor cat. We drove to the Matka canyon, which is close to Skopje. We walked the hiking trail along the canyon. Binkie really enjoyed the walk and walked 3-4 km’s (out of 8) on his own, which is actually quite far for him, usually after 2.5km’s he’s had enough. You can also take a boat tour through the canyon or rent a canoe. Or, if you have the proper papers, go cave diving. In the summer it is really crowded, but now it was nice and quiet. Although the nature isn’t at its most beautiful in the middle of winter. As we’re travelling the entire year we can’t always enjoy the area at it’s best. But still the canyon really was worth a visit and we just imagined it a little bit more green and sunny 😉 And because of the lack of leaves, we did have a good view of the canyon.