Zdravo, Macedonia! Kako Ste?

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.

When telling family and friends that our next destination would be Macedonia, the reaction we most often received was a blank stare, followed by: “Now, where is that exactly?” Thanks to Alexander the Great, most people are familiar with the name “Macedonia,” but very few know much about the present-day country. That’s understandable. Not only does Macedonia have a complicated history and a scant international profile, but it’s in the heart of the Balkans: Europe’s most bewildering region.

As though that wasn’t enough, Macedonia has not even been a country for most of its history, but a geographic region administered by others: Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Normans, the Ottomans, Bulgaria, Serbia. When Yugoslavia began to fall apart, Macedonians recognized the opportunity to achieve a long-awaited dream, and declared independence. The Serbian army was already engaged in Bosnia and Croatia, so the small southern republic managed to secede without any bloodshed.

Jürgen and I arrived in Macedonia in July of 2014, completely clueless about its people, culture, cuisine, nature, towns and customs. But we could hardly wait to start learning. We were based in Skopje, but over the course of 91 days, we managed to travel to every corner of the country — not that heroic of a task, considering that it’s roughly the size of Vermont. We visited historic Lake Ohrid in the southwest, the wine-producing Tikveš Plains in the southeast, Albanian villages in the northwest, the rolling hills of the northeast, and almost everything in between.

We lived here for three months, and it was an exciting time, during which Macedonia never stopped surprising us. The ancient ruins, the secluded churches, the hospitable people, the diverse mix of ethnicities, the engrossing history, and the mouthwatering cuisine kept us fully entertained, and we loved this little country more with each passing day. Macedonia has a lot more to offer than you might expect… so let’s get started!

-We Rented From Skopje Apartments

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Bube

    I hope you have a great time in Macedonia 🙂 You can try Stipska pastramalija (Штипска пастрамалија) a traditional dish made in the town Stip, you can also visit the monastery Sv. Joakim Osogovski in Kriva Palanka, visit Berovo and the waterfalls in  Pehcevo, Bitola and the ancient city Heraclea 🙂 I don’t know if there are organized tours to recommend you travel agency, but I hope you can manage it.Maybe you already visited these places, if not I hope you’ll like it 🙂

  2. Tatjana

    I’m so glad for this 🙂 Come and visit my town…Bitola…we have ancient city called Heraclea Lyncestis with a beautiful amphitheater…one of the 2 that Nero visited 🙂 Have a safe trip and a good time 🙂

  3. Diane

    Best of luck! Excited to follow your new adventure. I’m nearly as exhausted as you two after Tokyo! lol 😉

  4. Pelagonia

    Get in touch with us for some great travel tips – we’ve been shouting loud about Macedonian food and travel for a long time.

  5. Gorde

    Hi guys, don’t forget to visit Prespa and Prespa lake for some relaxation, nice nature and friendly people.Furthermore, the only island in the country is  also located in the above-mentioned lake and there are many old churches worthwhile visiting. Also maybe you can  enjoy visiting the “Saraj” in the town of Resen (Prespa) which is very nice, historical and neoclassical building built by the local Ottoman bay with a unique architectural style.

    1. Juergen Horn

      Hello Gorde, Thank you so much for your comment. We already visited Prespa and loved staying there. Our visit also included Snake Island which was one of our favorites so far. But I’m afraid we are not going to be able to visit Resen this time but we will be sure to visit when we are back. Again, thank you for reading.

  6. Aleksandar

    Hallo Yungs,ich habe fast alle eure Beiträge gelesen. Finde ich sehr korrekt und schön geschrieben. Vor allem gefällt mir auch Kritik an manche vergessene Kulturdenkmale wie z.B. Aquädukt in Skopje und das Makedonium in Krusevo. Wobei Makedonium in Krusevo ist gerade in eine Renovierungsphase und für Aquädukt gab es bis jetzt mehrere Versuche jedoch angeblich hat keine was gebracht. Was noch immer ich wollte euch noch paar Tipps geben. Falls ihr noch nicht in Ost Mazedonien wart investieren sie paar Tage dafür denn die unterschied zu West Mazedonien ist riesig und es macht bestimmt Spaß was anderes zu erleben. Ich würde die Reise nach Osten von Skopje nach Kumanovo Richtung Kratovo starten. Zu erst ist auf jeden Fall besuch der Observatorium Kokino (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kokino) ein besuch wert. Dann die Felsenstruktur Kuklici in der nähe von Kratovo  (http://www.mydestination.com/macedonia/things-to-do/1151984/kuklici-(stone-dolls)#). Danach Stadt Kratovoist auf jeden Fall ein Besuch wert, denn es handelt sich um der älteste Stadt der Balken der in Mittelalter ein Stadt der Geld und Goldproduktion war. Mehr über Kratovo können sie in Net finden ich habe z.B. (http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/FYR_of_Macedonia/Opstina_Kratovo/Kratovo-452577/Things_To_Do-Kratovo-TG-C-1.html). Wenn ihr in Kratovo seid am besten nach Herr Stevce Donevski fragen. Er ist ein der euch viel über Kratovo erzählen kann. Er ist Leiter von “Zentrum für Stein Kunst” in Kratovo (opstinski centar za karpesta umetnost Kratovo) . Von Kratovo aus ist auch Manastir Joakim Osogovski in Kriva Palanka zu Besuchen (da kann man auch übernachten). Ein schöne Kloster in eine schone Natur. Berovo See ist auch ein besuch wert wenn ihr Naturliebhaber  seid. Es gibt noch vieles wie Wasserfälle, Osogovoberge und so weiter. Aus Berovo würde ich empehlen nach Strumica zu reisen und danach über Stip und Veles nach Skopje. Ich wünsche euch ein gute restliche Aufenthalt in Mazedonien. Und hoffe es ist gut genug, dass es nich eure letzte Besuch ist :)Grüß,Aleksandar

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