April 11, 2016
For 91 Days, we explored Macedonia: one of the most undiscovered corners in Europe. We didn’t know what to expect before arriving, but this small, land-locked country in the southern Balkans never stopped surprising us. Whether you’re planning your own journey to Macedonia, or are just interested in seeing what makes it such a special place, our articles and photographs might help you out. Start at the beginning of our adventures, visit our comprehensive index to find something specific, or choose one of the articles selected at random, below:
We spent three months exploring one of the most undiscovered corners in Europe: Macedonia. We didn’t know what to expect before arriving, but this small, land-locked country in the southern Balkans never stopped surprising us. Whether hiking through pristine nature, fattening ourselves up on its incredible cuisine, learning about its history, or just meeting some of its famously hospitable people, we enjoyed every minute we spent in Macedonia.
A few years ago, things were looking grim for Dojran (pronounced “doy-ran”), a lake in the southeastern corner of Macedonia. It was losing water rapidly to over-ambitious agriculture, and facing total disappearance. But a strict conservation program has brought this small lake back from the brink.
For four days in July, the central Macedonian town of Prilep is taken over by Pivofest: an annual celebration of beer which has become the nation’s biggest festival. It’s not exactly the most traditional event on the calendar, but that wasn’t going to deter us from attending. We’re talking about a giant beer party, after all. Tradition can wait.
After the first month in a new location, we always take stock of our opinions with a self-interview. And after the second month, we like to learn more about the locals. So, we set out into the streets of Skopje to interview a few random Macedonians. Given the general friendliness of the people here, we didn’t anticipate any difficulties. But as soon as we pulled out the pen and paper, many would clam up. There’s apparently not a lot of trust toward foreign media… but we were able to coax a few folks into talking.
On August 2nd, 1903, a small band of revolutionaries succeeded in freeing the Macedonian mountain town of Kruševo from the Ottoman Empire. Immediately, the Republic of Kruševo declared itself an independent state, with Nikola Karev as its president. But the dream of freedom was fleeting. After ten days, the Ottomans sent an overwhelming force into the hills and crushed the uprising.
We had already hiked to Matka Canyon from the top of Mount Vodno, but made a return trip to check out Vrelo, which is Macedonia’s most famous cave. Although its depths are yet to be fully explored, Vrelo is presumed by many to be the deepest underwater cave in the world.
We showed up in Gevgelija raring to hit the casinos. Gambling is one of our favorite vices and Gevgelija, a small city on the border with Greece, has a reputation as Macedonia’s gaming hot spot. But even though a casino was just across the street from our hotel, we ended up taking a rain check. What went wrong?