Skopje yoopie yoope yo

Tirana Travel Blog

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Kale's Fortress, Skopje, Macedonia

Since my last blog I have been traipsing around the countryside of Macedonia and Albania enjoying the summer breeze in my hair and smell of sunscreen wafting through the air and the best thing about visiting these places is that the border crossings have been quick and painless – much like ripping off a plaster.

 

The Republic of Macedonia, or The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) depending on which side of the constitutional debate you sit, surprised me with its beauty with its mountainous regions and charming little villages. 

Spending the night in Skopje meant a full day of running around, looking at the sights, posing in front of Mother Theresa, her house and her photos and climbing over the statues which grace the city.

 

Skopje isn’t a large city, but it does have a lot of history behind it.

Using the self portrait function - Skopje, Macedonia
  Referred to by the Romans as Scupi, the city area has been inhabited since 4000 BC but don’t let this fool you, Skopje is a place that is modernising and there are numerous buildings and complexes that have been built which show the wealth this area has to offer.

 

One of the best, and popular attractions to visit whilst in Skopje is the Kale Fortress.  Situated high on a hill above the city, it remains speak of times gone by with its construction occurring in Byzantine times.  However, a lot of the fortress was damaged after an earthquake in 1963, and remnants of this quake can be seen at the fortress and around the city and its monuments. 

 

One of these remnants is a clock, which stands silent at the end of Macedonia Square (in front of the pedestrian street in Skopje.

Posing with the locals - Skopje, Macedonia
)  Years previously at 5:17 am (26 July 1963), an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter Scale hit, killing nearly 2,000 people and destroyed about 80% of the city and left hundreds of thousand people homeless.  Quite a poignant reminder of this event and it seemed quite the place to think and reflect about the recent earthquake which occurred in New Zealand and realise how lucky they have been not to have any deaths occur from their quake.

 

After spending sometime with Mother Theresa in Skopje, it was time to go to heaven and this was found only a couple of hours drive away at a place called Lake Ohrid.

 

This place is beautiful and it made a welcome change from the cities recently visited and it fitted nicely into the theme of Macedonia – earthquakes.

Meeting Mother Theresa - Skopje, Macedonia

This tectonic lake is the largest of three found within Macedonia and it is enormous; after all it is classified as one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes at 30 kilometres long and up to 288 metres deep.  So important is this lake, that in 1980, it was made a UNESCO site.

 

Having spent time walking around parts of the lake and discovering monasteries and churches along the way added to the enjoyment of this area.  The places people build religious sites always amazes me because the devotion and dedication required for some of these architectural feats are nothing less than impressive.

 

St Clement and Panteleimon from the 9th – 15th centuries was one of the churches you could wander in free of charge.  Once inside you can see sections of the original structure that existed.

This is not a normal piece of artwork, it's a carpet! Skopje, Macedonia
  But the two best things about Lake Ohrid are some pretty special attractions.  The Samuel’s Fortress (976 – 1014) is a bargain at only 30 Macedonian Denar or 0.50 euro to enter.  I spent about an hour scaling its wall and running around pretending that the hordes were attacking.  It really is a great place to let you imagination run wild. 

 

And then finally the amphitheatre, discovered in 1974, it has been restored and now gets used each year for music festivals.  Since the theatre was there I thought it would be rude if I didn’t make use of it and demonstrate my talents of jumping up and down like a yoyo.  Sure, not exactly the performance that would have wowed the Romans, but I dazzled the locals with my Jumping Jack routine nonetheless.

Is it a fish or a man? Depending on the angle, I couldn't make up my mind - Skopje, Macedonia

 

After Lake Ohrid, it was off to Albania and it’s capital, Tirana

 

You have to walk from border to border and walking this section of road from Macedonia to Albania with my bags meant I was accompanied by two fearless travellers – two kittens who meowed their way down the hill with me to the second border.  Proving not to be outdone by their catcalls, I joined in for the 10-minute walk and it took my mind off the fact that although I’ve eating my way through the food in my bag, it still feels heavier than it should.

 

Albania greeted me with lovely weather and animal bones.  (Ok, I found them on the side of the road at a stop and thought it would make a great photo?)  The countryside was beautiful and it reminded me of a time past.

The clock that stood still after the earthquake - Skopje, Macedonia
  I saw people on the road gossiping with each other, children walking hand in hand after school, and roads that made your stomach queezy with the rally car driving on the hairpin turns and the deep drops below. 

 

But all of this changed after arriving in Tirana, the capital.  Rush hour traffic, grid locked, except it wasn’t rush hour.  It wasn’t even close.  It appears that Tirana has a large traffic problem.  Maybe it is because of the way the traffic lights are ‘followed’.  Asking a local, I was advised the following:

“Green means Go, yellow is for demonstration and red means Just Go Faster.”  So this is what we did, through the traffic, weaving in and out, hardly being able to see through the damaged front window, but that just added to the fun (or for the driver at least.

Skopje, Macedonia
)  Perhaps it was the fact some locals took took to driving on the pavement to get away from the cars (but obviously had to dodge other annoying obstacles like pedestrians.)

I was meant to stay longer here in Tirana, but the noise of the city is a little loud after the peace and tranquility of Lake Ohrid, and the pull of the ocean has proved too strong so I’m moving on quicker than first planned.  I’m off to the beach – I want to feel again the summer breeze in my hair and smell of sunscreen wafting through the air. 

 

Until next time,

Mirë upafshim from Albania


Saskia007 says:
Hey Frans, sorry about the delay in replying to your comment - I don't know what happened there. Ohrid was wonderful but you're right about Tirana - not sure about being in the time of Hoxta - a little to severe for my liking (imagine having to get a permit for a fridge?) and his penchant for bunkers has left an 'attractive' legacy to the country.
Posted on: Oct 10, 2010
fransglobal says:
I loved Ohrid - it had everything. Skopje was OK for a day or two. Tirana worth a day too - a bit bizarre. Must have been really weird there during the days of Hoxha.
Posted on: Sep 20, 2010
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Surely this sculpture could use some enhancement? Skopje, Macedonia

Since my last blog I have been traipsing around the countryside of Macedonia and Albania enjoying the summer breeze in my hair and smell of sunscreen wafting through the air and the best thing about visiting these places is that the border crossings have been quick and painless – much like ripping off a plaster.

 

The Republic of Macedonia, or The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) depending on which side of the constitutional debate you sit, surprised me with its beauty with its mountainous regions and charming little villages. 

Spending the night in Skopje meant a full day of running around, looking at the sights, posing in front of Mother Theresa, her house and her photos and climbing over the statues which grace the city.

 

Skopje isn’t a large city, but it does have a lot of history behind it.

Death notices at Lake Ohrid
  Referred to by the Romans as Scupi, the city area has been inhabited since 4000 BC but don’t let this fool you, Skopje is a place that is modernising and there are numerous buildings and complexes that have been built which show the wealth this area has to offer.

 

One of the best, and popular attractions to visit whilst in Skopje is the Kale Fortress.  Situated high on a hill above the city, it remains speak of times gone by with its construction occurring in Byzantine times.  However, a lot of the fortress was damaged after an earthquake in 1963, and remnants of this quake can be seen at the fortress and around the city and its monuments. 

 

One of these remnants is a clock, which stands silent at the end of Macedonia Square (in front of the pedestrian street in Skopje.

Lake Ohrid
)  Years previously at 5:17 am (26 July 1963), an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter Scale hit, killing nearly 2,000 people and destroyed about 80% of the city and left hundreds of thousand people homeless.  Quite a poignant reminder of this event and it seemed quite the place to think and reflect about the recent earthquake which occurred in New Zealand and realise how lucky they have been not to have any deaths occur from their quake.

 

After spending sometime with Mother Theresa in Skopje, it was time to go to heaven and this was found only a couple of hours drive away at a place called Lake Ohrid.

 

This place is beautiful and it made a welcome change from the cities recently visited and it fitted nicely into the theme of Macedonia – earthquakes.

Jumping for joy at the former Leper colony - Lake Ohrid

This tectonic lake is the largest of three found within Macedonia and it is enormous; after all it is classified as one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes at 30 kilometres long and up to 288 metres deep.  So important is this lake, that in 1980, it was made a UNESCO site.

 

Having spent time walking around parts of the lake and discovering monasteries and churches along the way added to the enjoyment of this area.  The places people build religious sites always amazes me because the devotion and dedication required for some of these architectural feats are nothing less than impressive.

 

St Clement and Panteleimon from the 9th – 15th centuries was one of the churches you could wander in free of charge.  Once inside you can see sections of the original structure that existed.

The amphitheater I performed at - Lake Ohrid
  But the two best things about Lake Ohrid are some pretty special attractions.  The Samuel’s Fortress (976 – 1014) is a bargain at only 30 Macedonian Denar or 0.50 euro to enter.  I spent about an hour scaling its wall and running around pretending that the hordes were attacking.  It really is a great place to let you imagination run wild. 

 

And then finally the amphitheatre, discovered in 1974, it has been restored and now gets used each year for music festivals.  Since the theatre was there I thought it would be rude if I didn’t make use of it and demonstrate my talents of jumping up and down like a yoyo.  Sure, not exactly the performance that would have wowed the Romans, but I dazzled the locals with my Jumping Jack routine nonetheless.

Scaling the steps of Samuel's Fortress - Lake Ohrid

 

After Lake Ohrid, it was off to Albania and it’s capital, Tirana

 

You have to walk from border to border and walking this section of road from Macedonia to Albania with my bags meant I was accompanied by two fearless travellers – two kittens who meowed their way down the hill with me to the second border.  Proving not to be outdone by their catcalls, I joined in for the 10-minute walk and it took my mind off the fact that although I’ve eating my way through the food in my bag, it still feels heavier than it should.

 

Albania greeted me with lovely weather and animal bones.  (Ok, I found them on the side of the road at a stop and thought it would make a great photo?)  The countryside was beautiful and it reminded me of a time past.

View from Samuel's Fortress - Lake Ohrid
  I saw people on the road gossiping with each other, children walking hand in hand after school, and roads that made your stomach queezy with the rally car driving on the hairpin turns and the deep drops below. 

 

But all of this changed after arriving in Tirana, the capital.  Rush hour traffic, grid locked, except it wasn’t rush hour.  It wasn’t even close.  It appears that Tirana has a large traffic problem.  Maybe it is because of the way the traffic lights are ‘followed’.  Asking a local, I was advised the following:

“Green means Go, yellow is for demonstration and red means Just Go Faster.”  So this is what we did, through the traffic, weaving in and out, hardly being able to see through the damaged front window, but that just added to the fun (or for the driver at least.

One of the beautiful icons found at the Church of St Clement - Lake Ohrid
)  Perhaps it was the fact some locals took took to driving on the pavement to get away from the cars (but obviously had to dodge other annoying obstacles like pedestrians.)

I was meant to stay longer here in Tirana, but the noise of the city is a little loud after the peace and tranquility of Lake Ohrid, and the pull of the ocean has proved too strong so I’m moving on quicker than first planned.  I’m off to the beach – I want to feel again the summer breeze in my hair and smell of sunscreen wafting through the air. 

 

Until next time,

Mirë upafshim from Albania


Kales Fortress, Skopje, Macedonia
Kale's Fortress, Skopje, Macedonia
Using the self portrait function -…
Using the self portrait function …
Posing with the locals - Skopje, M…
Posing with the locals - Skopje, …
Meeting Mother Theresa - Skopje, M…
Meeting Mother Theresa - Skopje, …
This is not a normal piece of artw…
This is not a normal piece of art…
Is it a fish or a man?  Depending …
Is it a fish or a man? Depending…
The clock that stood still after t…
The clock that stood still after …
Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje, Macedonia
Surely this sculpture could use so…
Surely this sculpture could use s…
Death notices at Lake Ohrid
Death notices at Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid
Jumping for joy at the former Lepe…
Jumping for joy at the former Lep…
The amphitheater I performed at - …
The amphitheater I performed at -…
Scaling the steps of Samuels Fort…
Scaling the steps of Samuel's For…
View from Samuels Fortress - Lake…
View from Samuel's Fortress - Lak…
One of the beautiful icons found a…
One of the beautiful icons found …
View overlooking St John Kaneo - L…
View overlooking St John Kaneo - …
The countryside
The countryside
I thought this would make a good p…
I thought this would make a good …
The windscreen of the vehicle I wa…
The windscreen of the vehicle I w…
Traffic - Tirana style
Traffic - Tirana style
This isnt even rush hour
This isn't even rush hour
One of the many bomb shelters buil…
One of the many bomb shelters bui…
Tirana
photo by: EmEm