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Farewell North Macedonia…

My last breakfast here…  The chef made it specially for me.


This is the Lovely Ana who took such wonderful care of me during my stay – I cannot thank her enough.

The car is loaded with all my suitcases…

…and it is farewell to Hotel London in Skopje…

Before we even left, Adrian had an ‘interaction’ with two different North Macedonian police…  One who, probably because of his Romanian registration plates, asked to see all his safety equipment, including first aid kit and fire extinguisher!  Thankfully, he listened to the little voice in his head before he left that told him to pack them!  Then, there was a challenge with where the car was parked while he loaded… but we eventually were underway…

This is Adrian, my Romanian friend and my driver in this part of the world.  He is amazing!  If ever you travel to Romania, and I suggest you do – I love it there, please let me know and I will put you in touch with Adrian.  Not only does he provide a driving service, he can take care of just about anything.

This is a toll road…?

Hmmmmm, seems we were going too fast…  Ooooops…

No man’s land… the area between non-EU (North Macedonia) and EU (Bulgaria)…

~ Bella

Stobi Archeological Site

Stobi – once the capital of a Roman province named Macedonia Salutaris, was originally built around 500BC, and annexed later, around 200 BC, by Philip V of Macedon.  Covering an area of around 25,000 square meters, the town housed around 20,000 people.

There is a magnificent bath house with mosaic floor featuring deer and dedicated to Psalm 41:2, “As the deer longs for fountains of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.”

I was so proud of myself – I went climbing around the site like a mountain goat (thanks to my trusty sticks) for almost two hours until my legs finally could go no further.

I also thought it was wonderful that I was able to chat with the guide (btw, my driver and I were the only other people in the entire ancient city complex archaeological site!) – anyway, chatting with the guide about Isis and Osaris, and Horus, and Enki and Enlil… and corinthian columns, and the properties of pink marble vs white marble…  I was even able to fill her in on some things, such as certain Roman building practices known as ‘bonding’… and how when she said that the archaeologists had recently discovered fabric-making equipment and purple dye in one area, I was able to explain to her how the Romans made purple dye (it’s from snails!)… and she was able to tell me so much about how the site changed over the years, all about the market place, about the amphitheatre that seated around 7,000 people, how it operated, where everything went… It was SUCH a wonderful discussion for almost two hours!  What joy!

Who knew all my seemingly useless trivia would come in so handy!

Oh, and keep an eye out below for the one-eyed old London double-decker bus!

First Outing in Skopje

It is a magnificent day here in Skopje, North Macedonia, for my first outing to explore the immediate vicinity.

I had four objectives for the adventure:

✔️ Buy a local SIM card (15GB for 30 days for €20)

✔️ Buy Coke Zero (that’s my caffeine fix)

✔️ Buy alcohol (in this case J&B whiskey (not a huge selection where I was, but only €20 for a huge bottle)

✔️ Made it both up and down the stairs in the hotel alive!  😃

I will go into more detail in future posts re what everything is, the background and history etc as I discover it – for now, this is at least a basic image of where I am staying for the next couple of months.

It is quite delightful and has lovely quirks – the clock tower chimes the half hour at 21 minutes pas the hour – and six o’clock in the evening is sounded by six bells at 5:57pm.

View from the front of the hotel – and everyone is so lovely here!

That is the Stone Bridge across the Vardar River.

The current Stone Bridge was built on Roman foundations under the patronage of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror between 1451 and 1469.  Most of the Stone Bridge originates from the Ottoman period and throughout the centuries, the Stone Bridge was often damaged and then repaired. There is historical evidence that it once suffered during the great earthquake of 1555 which heavily damaged or destroyed four pillars. Renovations were carried out the same year. Some executions have also taken place on this bridge, such as the execution of Karposh in 1689.

In 1944, explosives were placed on the bridge by Nazis. Upon a request from city notables, the Germans give up at the last minute and the bridge was saved from destruction. [Wikipedia]

This impressive building is the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia.

The ships – one is a restaurant, and the other a hotel and restaurant.  Hopefully they will open again while I am still here.

Apparently decent fishing in the river…

Nice to see a wedding…

There is some begging, but not a lot – although this woman enlisted the services of her two-year-old (walking toward me) to help with the family business…

The sign says:  Hungry?  We will feed you.  Thirsty?  We will get you drunk.  Lonely?  We will get you drunk.  Good to know!

There are almost no aromas in the air as the restaurants are still closed, but sound-wise, there is a strange cacophany…  The town centre has a continual broadcasting of a mix of local music and a best-of from the 1980s – and add to that the buskers, the call to prayer at the mosque, and the local version of a Vespa buzzing around – it is an interesting assault on the senses!

They upgraded me to the family suite, so now this is the view from my window (please excuse the mesh)…

~ Bella

Scotland to Skopje

My final day in beloved Scotland before I head off to my next globe-trotting destination on this amazing world-tour I have created for myself…

Then, up ready to leave at 3:00AM to drive to Manchester Airport for my flights from Manchester to Frankfurt to Vienna and finally arriving Skopje, North Macedonia, just before midnight.

Farewell England…

It’s not all that clear from the photo taken from my phone, but that is a wind farm down there – with some sort of pipeline that stretches who knows how long in a straight line…

Airplane food tastes like cardboard?  Not on my flights!

Hello Europe!

Hello Germany…

Gone are the days of Business Lounges being lovely places to rest…  this was more like a Greyhound terminal – with monitors walking around to make sure no one drank anything, ate anything, and that their masks were fitted according to regulations and very tight…  (Eeeegads – with this and the bullying tactics of the immigration officers every time I have been here, unless I absolutely have to, I am never, ever coming to Frankfurt Airport again – but thankfully, this was the only black mark on an otherwise lovely trip)

Who said German was difficult to learn?  The swim vest be findeth under where you sitz!

Next flight – more delicious food…

…complete with gold-handled tea cup – very civilized!

…and finally arriving in Skopje Airport…

View from the front of my hotel…

~ Bella