Bitola may lag behind Skopje in terms of population and influence, but with its turn-of-the-century architecture, compact Turkish quarter, lovely churches and ancient mosques, it competes in terms of style. We spent a few days exploring the city, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
One can still find a number of traditional craftsmen toiling away within Ohrid's historic quarter. Craftswomen, too. During our time in Ohrid, we had the chance to hang out with Marta Pejoska, who had recently opened a downtown studio dedicated to silver filigree.
Stretched out along the Vardar River, Skopje is a long and narrow city whose expansion to the south is hindered by the presence of Mount Vodno. We took a cable car to the mountain's summit for a close-up look of the Millennium Cross, and for a birds-eye view over the region.
The Republic of Macedonia is a small country in Southeast Europe, bordering Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania and Kosovo. Its people speak Macedonian, its capital is Skopje and, until 1991, it was part of Yugoslavia. And that was the sum total of everything I knew about Macedonia, before arriving on a sweltering afternoon in early July. My ignorance was nothing to be proud of, but not exactly unique; this land-locked Balkan country is among the most uncharted in Europe, almost entirely overlooked by tourists.