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Samstag, 11. Februar 2017

TRAVEL HUNTER - Macedonia: finding magic in an unexpected place

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote fits perfectly with my trip in Macedonia. Because sometimes the best travel experiences are the most surprising ones. 
It rained in Skopje for the first day of my trip. It rained the second too. It rained, and rained, and rained. There was nothing else for it, I had to spend my whole time of my trip talking with locals, eating, drinking, talking with people again, getting involved in their routine, eating again, hoping the rain will leave, praying for it, “tasting” wine and so on. Places are so great when you are hanging with homies so I am really glad I was able to meet some cool people while I was there. And since we already started, let me share with you the top of my reasons for visiting Macedonia.

The people
Simple as that. There is something about Macedonians that not only I really like, but made me feel like Macedonia is my homeland. Well, it’s not a secret that writers often exaggerate and use big words in order to make them seem more interesting or exciting, but I promise you that I am not exaggerating at all with this next statement:

In Macedonia I felt like home.

In my first day I had quite a difficult time to adapt in Macedonia because everything felt familiar and natural, I was not used to feel that way. I came here full of stereotypes and prejudices I’ve heard, but damn! People are extremely friendly and nice, laid-back and simple with a good sense of humor and vibe. Language barrier? Not a single chance. From the bus driver, to cleaning lady, vendors, policemans, casual people, actually I’ve never met a single person I couldn’t get along with.

Amazing country for vegetarians.

From the first sight you may see that Macedonians love meat. It’s true but if you go further you may find some of the most delectable vegetarian cuisine. Macedonia’s mountainous geography, unique climate and rich fertile soil make some ideal conditions for vegetables. Everything is organic, without the standard array of potentially harmful, and…
It’s affordable (but not cheap)
You can get a great meal for around 3€, and for 5€-10€ you can eat and drink like a queen. Transportation is quite cheap (9€ Skopje -Ohrid for example) and so is accommodation (8€ for an excellent hostel or 30€-50€ for a double room in a cosy hotel). It’s really a great place to go if you’re on a low-medium budget but your travel experience will not stop at that. Macedonia is full of outdoor and extreme activities, cultural and traditional cities hard to reach so this will cost you extra money.

Skopje is more surprising than you expect.

Skopje may not be the highest profile European capital, but that will soon change. One trip to the Old Bazaar changed it all for me. Actually, there are many beautiful places to see, wine to taste, The Old Bazaar which is stunning, but what shocked me litteraly was the Matka Canyon.

The contrast could is extremely dramatic, as the city gradually gave way to mountain, forest and lake. Partial cloud cover caused the water to reflect green, rather than blue, making the lake look more spectacular amongst the mountainous backdrop. It’s hard to believe that the city is so close by.

The famous “Skopje 2014″ project

“Skopje 2014″ was a both costly and controversial project launched by the government in 2010 in an effort to transform the capital into a more unified and visually appealing European city but also to rebuild the city that lost many of its landmarks in a 1963 earthquake. The project consists mainly of the construction of museums and government buildings, as well as the erection of monuments, fountains and stuff. To be honest I loved all of them. However, Skopje deserves better. As a personal opinion I think they are a bit overdoing it. The whole effect is certainly nothing less than eyebrow-raising. And for some people it is positively stomach-churning. But in raising the profile of the city, Skopje 2014 has achieved the desired effect.

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