Yes, it’s a dump. But in a good way. Sort of.

Skopje

Skopje


Skopje is a bit of a dump. There has to be a more delicate way to describe a city with some of the most impressive statues I’ve ever seen, great food, a huge and hugely impressive old bazaar and uniformly friendly people save for one jerky cab driver who overcharged me and then got pissy when I brought the subject to his attention because I was an American and could easily afford it, but when push comes to shove, sometimes the simplest terms are the best at conveying the reality before us.
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Of course it feels European. It’s in Europe.

Catolic_church_bitola
Bitola is a gorgeous little town in southern Macedonia, though little is a relative term in describing the second largest city in the country. Roughly three hours from Skopje by bus, the ride there was largely uneventful save for the brief stop at a gas station/convenience store in which Ferda took the opportunity to hop off and stretch her legs, but failed to return before the bus began to pull out of the station. I did my best to yell in Turkish and English, and it was either that or my wild gesticulations that stopped the driver from leaving her stranded in the middle of Macedonia. He also very graciously arranged a taxi to our hotel, speaking with the driver on our behalf once we’d arrived in the outskirts of Bitola.

The highlight of the city for me was seeing the ruins of the ancient city of Heraclea Lyncestis, founded by Alexander the Great’s father Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the fourth century BC. Most of the relics, buildings and monuments still standing are from the Roman era several centuries later. The amphitheater is especially impressive, in excellent condition, so much so that performances still take place there during the summer. There were also a number of truly spectacular mosaics left from the Byzantine era, but photographs were unfortunately not allowed.
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