A second chance for Skopje, North Macedonia

Our visit to Skopje had a mission: we wanted to be positively impressed. The previous time we were in the city — ten years ago — we only changed buses at the main bus station and had a somewhat a miserable time. We were waiting for our connecting bus to Serbia in the late hours of a Friday evening. All seats in the waiting area were taken by local hooligans, and we didn't have a single Macedonian dinar to pay a visit to the toilet. Nobody wanted Euro at that time and the only currency exchange booth was closed. When our connecting bus finally arrived, we were happy to leave.

Our second visit didn't start auspiciously either. We arrived in the middle of a Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, when goats are slaughtered. The city was empty and everything was closed. We had made a booking to a hotel in the Old Bazaar area, which turned out to be a maze. We were walking back and forth the tiny area looking around but couldn't find the hotel. Finally, a friendly Bosniac happened to know the place and took us there. The receptionist, however — who didn't speak a word of English — had double booked our room so we were soon back in the crispy cold weather.

Fortunately we found another hotel and our luck changed. The next day we had loads of sunshine and the city turned out to be very walkable. Everything of interest — mainly statues, an old fortress and a stone bridge — can easily be seen within a single day but we wanted to take our time and try local breakfast buffets. We hopped from one hotel to another, walked along the river, and enjoyed eating out affordably. All in all, we had a great time and would gladly visit the city again if it happens to fall on our route.

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