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Skopje II

Could think of worse sights to be looking at when fishing. That majestic building is the Skopje Water Commission HQ. Of course it is.

Me thinks something got lost in translation.

I did the free tour on offer in the Balkan states as I had done in Tirana . We were only 17 this time but two of the lads from Denmark who were in Tirana turned up today. Transpires they’re hitchhiking from Copenhagen to Cambodia to honour a promise to a small school there that they’d come and teach English for 3 months. They have given themselves 5 months to get there, hitching only, and staying in homes via the website “couchsurfing”. #livinglife

Other things learnt on the free walking tour

: Mother Theresa was born to a Macedonian father and Albanian mother in Albania. Despite this Macedonia claims her as theirs. She received over 700 awards in her life having spent her first years in religion as a nun in a convent in Dublin.

: The Greeks claim Alexander the Great as theirs and have trademarked the name which is why the massive statue of him in the main square is simply known as “Warrior on a horse”.

: Al the Great was a pretty handy Warrior. Born to Prince Phillip II and his wife Olympia’s he led his armies in 100 battles in 11 years. He died aged 32 from what we today would call alcohol poisoning.

: Wild dogs (and there are plenty) are tagged to show they have been vaccinated and free of disease. The plan is to cull the bitches and eventually hope the herd of dogs dies away. Good luck with that me thinks.

: the magnificent Orthodox Church on the pedestrian street that looks as though it’s been renovated is actually being constructed. Brand new but to Byzantine design.

: if you come to Skopje it’s the “Old Bazzar” that you want to visit for traditional Macedonian food. The “national dish” is either pork , beef or chicken flattened with a mallet. It is then rolled around cheese and then covered with bacon and grilled. Take it from me. Well worth the £1.50 it will cost you.

The nine nine ladies of arts and culture

Throughtout the centre of Skopje are plaques dedicated to Mother Theresa and her ponderments.

Another said “Everything that is not given is lost”

Youd be right to be wondering why I have included this picture of a rather unassuming apartment block. It sits on the Main Street (now a pedestrian only avenue) that runs from Skopje’s original train terminal to the main square. Over the last 100 years the steeet name has been changed 5 time dependant on who controlled Macedonia at the time. There is (allegedly) a 95 year old woman who has never lived anywhere else but at this numbered house / block of apartments and had the address on her identity papers changed 5 times to reflect the change in street name 5 times.

Just when you frame a reasonable picture and press the shutter button you get photo bombed by a bus. Not any old bus but a London double decker. Story goes that when the 1963 earthquake occurred it did so at 5.17 am and flattened all buses in the main terminal. London sent over 5 double deckers and so liked were they that when they reached their end Skopje order a bigger fleet of the same.........From China.

Statues to to the Fallen Hero’s and eternal flame

Modern Art depicting the spot on the river bank where the “Woman’s Beach” was once located in the shadow of Bridge of Stones.

Skopjes original train terminal. Destroyed in 1963 earthquake that took place at 5.17 am

One thing you you see a lot of in Macedonia is teens and twenty somethings of both sexes preening and posturing unashamedly in public whilst their mate clicks away. Yesterday as I made my way to Skopje on the bus it was another similar scene but this was a young man slouched back on the bonnet of his car with the regulatory stubble, aviator glasses and bomber jacket.

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