During my staying here in Prilep I took some days off to make a small trip in some places in Macedonia. I really wanted to visit this country, which is totally new for me, and understand it better, knowing its main cities, natural parks, and everything that can be interesting.

I couldn’t travel a lot, so I chose to start from the main thing: the capital city, Skopje. I stayed there two nights to I visited it, and I also took advantage of the short distance to go to the Matka Canyon.

The moment I arrived in Skopje it was at night, at Friday night. Immediately the music from the clubs, the lights of the bars and restaurants, the people all dressed up walking along the river, surprised me. I knew what to expect from the biggest city in Macedonia, also because my friends in Prilep told me, but it was still a surprise.

The atmosphere was curious, because there was a lot of parties everywhere, people having fun like it was on some special occasion. Also, all the important buildings along the river were new and enlightened with a lot of colors. I find out that most of the center of Skopje has been renewed. And they actually did it in a classical and imperial style. You can still see buildings in construction near to the new ones. For what concern the museums or historical buildings they were renewed on the outside. The general impression is of something totally new, fascinating and a little bit impressive too. You can literally feel the purpose to make everything impressive. It is clear for example with the statues and the monuments. They are all huge!

The contrast came with the Bazaar. It is the Turkish part of the city that host the bazaar since the Ottoman Empire period. It is really nice to walk around in its streets, full of shops and people and of hidden smaller alleys where you can get lost. There are also all the typical restaurants and coffee bars. It was my favorite part of the visit. 

I also visited the fortress during the morning and then I went to the Matka Canyon. The nature of this place is wonderful. My friends and me went kayaking and we really had fun but also enjoyed the fresh air on the water and the silence of the canyon.

It was Sunday when I went to Kruševo, the highest city in Macedonia and one of the highest in the Balkans, situated at an altitude of over 1350 m. Me and my group went to eat traditional food to the restaurant “Panorama”. I really loved the dishes, mainly of meat. Then we walked around the city and we also went to the Makedonium monument. Kruševo gave us the opportunity to discover something more about Macedonian history, for example about the Ilinden uprising: it was an organized revolt against the Ottoman Empire and the event is considered the country’s first step toward sovereignty, because with it Kruševo became the home to a short-lived Macedonian republic called Kruševo Republic. The Makedonium monument has been installed to commemorate this uprising.

My next stop was Ohrid, where I stayed all day long, and to be honest, I didn’t want to leave. Ohrid has everything you need and if it is possible to enjoy it for more days I think it would be the best choice. Indeed, there is the lake, the nature, the fresh weather, the historical monuments, the night life, the great views and the peaceful beautiful streets. In Ohrid I could breathe and feel the ancient history and culture, the mysterious nature of the lake, the important atmosphere. You can eat good fish, go on a boat with some local kind sailor to see the city from the lake and reach the Church of Saint John the Theologian directly by water, enjoy the view from the fortress and visit a lot of beautiful churches. For real, in Ohrid there are 365 churches, one for each day of the year. And it is true! Some small churches are closed and are not working, are small and hidden, but you can literally see a church every time you turn in a different street. I loved it. And the center is full of people who walk along the lake and of coffee bars, there are some beautiful mosques too. It was the occasion for me to learn about this Ohrid lake, who is a place of interest for all the scientist all around the world: it is one of the Europe’s deepest and oldest lake, with a unique aquatic ecosystem of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species.

So far, I can say that Ohrid is my favorite place I discovered here in Macedonia.

On different other occasions, so not on the same trip I talked about so far, I’ve been also in Bitola, Struga and at the Bigorski Monastery St. John the Baptist. The visit to the monastery was really fascinating because it was on the Easter holidays and there was a celebration while I was there. I lighted up a candle as the people use to do and had an interesting experience of the Macedonian orthodox traditions. I am always curious about the local habits, so I was really glad to be there on that occasion.

Between Bitola and Struga, the one I enjoyed the most is Bitola: I went there two times and always had fun. Is something totally different from Ohrid, but I liked it anyway, mostly because of the social life and the good style of life it seems to be possible have there. There is a vast park, the streets are nice and full of people at every moment of the day and of the week, the bars and the places where it is possible to eat or drink something are really cool, and the people seems to really want to always enjoy their life hanging out with friends. There are also a lot of cultural events, rock band playing, music events and something happening in the city. Some of my new friends from Prilep have lived there while studying and they really would like to live there. I can understand them!

To come to an end, I love travelling and I have to admit that the places I visited here in Macedonian had enriched me a lot. I am very satisfied, and I hope to come back one day to discover even more places all around the country!

June 13, 2022

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