Few weeks back, I visited Skopje. Work trip, but finished early. I felt sick from Saturday on (thanks Jelle), yet really wanted to go hiking. My body wasn’t really up to it.
The city didn’t impress me all that much.
Skopje smells. There’s garbage everywhere. Air quality absolutely sucks. Part of this is due to the valley. Part of it is due to all the shitty cars.
It didn’t improve how I felt.
Sunday came. I slept bad, got up early, had breakfast in Bistro London. Much better than what the hotel offered me. I met some nice Americans, worried about the elections going on back home. Being able to point them to the closest Burger King made me feel confused. Good that I was able to help someone out, not so good for already knowing the location of BK within 36 hours after my arrival.
I shopped for food/drinks, then moved on to the buses.
One of these brings you up the hill. You can then either walk or take a cable car up.
Toilets up there. Dixies. No toilet paper.
I was really tired after going up, nearly coughing my lungs out. There’s a hikers’ cabin where you can buy tea, coffee, soups.. a few cookies.
And ice cream for the hardcore tourists, who will go down the lift again soon.
I walked. Somewhere along the road (5km down already?) a group of men told me I shouldn’t try walking all the way to lake Matka, that I miscalculated. Meh.
After a while, the road became slightly less well-walked. There’s plenty of markers, I walked on. Shortly after, a voice was shouting at me from behind. Something something Matka. Totally Macedonian.
I pointed at the marker, yelled “MATKA!”
He shouted something back. I walked.
Five minutes later, I’m face to face with an angry dog. Not sure what to do, he didn’t seem to want to get off the path. The old man saved the day, swinging a stick and mumbling Macedonian things. He asked where I was going. Our mutual destination was lake Matka. He didn’t know how far it was, I had a GPS track. He spoke some English. Not very well.
Later we found a third man for our trip. A local guy who has been walking around the area for the past twenty years. Good to have. Especially those able to get cows off your mountain path.
It was probably because I was sick, but damn, this old guy walked and walked. He outwalked me.
He also out-talked me. Me and my other new Macedonian friend.
We finished the hike, but never really went down to lake Matka. I was done anyway. All I wanted was a hotel and sleep.
Nope, bus just doesn’t drive all the way up to the endpoint sometimes. Walk some more. But in the end, I got back, slept and the next day.. was home again.
Business trips usually don’t last long.