Sunday, June 9, 2013

Skopje to Pristina

We came to Skopje, Macedonia to visit a friend and check out the city before heading towards Pristina, Kosovo. Macedonia is a beautifully green country by what we could see. The roads are paved and travel is much easier than Albania. Upon arriving in Skopje, you're hard pressed not to notice the extremely abundant and extravagant statues and fountains that occupy the center. It is truly remarkable, and maybe just a little over the top. We'll let you be the judge. (Of course, we didn't go around taking pictures of 'every' statue in Skopje, that would be ridiculous. These are just a few that we passed by more than once.)

Macedonia claims Alexandre the Great, which the Macedonians of northern Greece seem to discredit. However, they do have the statue!

Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia.

The bus ride into Kosovo was lush and green, with snow on the mountain tops even at the end of May.

The Newborn Monument represents Kosovo's independence from Serbia, to which all the supporting countries flags are now painted.

FYI: The people from Kosovo love the American people, with a statue of Bill Clinton and a boulevard named after him as tribute.

There is no real transport to get to the airport (besides paying for a taxi). So, we received good advice to catch a bus to the nearest town and walk. The first time we've hiked to an airport, possibly not the last. :)

...and now, Italy.

Milan railway metro station

It has now been over a year since we left the soil of our home country. For most of our time, to our astonishment and amusement, we've been in the Balkans (except for Turkey and Cyprus). We've enjoyed the simplicity of our lifestyle over the past year, getting back to the basics in more ways than one. We have gained a further appreciation for what we've had, and learned about what we didn't. The time has flown by as we remember our paths. All of which come with remarkable memories. Thank you to everyone who opened their homes and shared the journey with us. This wouldn't be possible without you. As we leave eastern Europe and head west, we look forward to the path of endless possibilities that await us.

Pogradec to Sveti Naum

We spent a night in Pogradec, on the Albanian side of Lake Orhid before walking across the border to the Sveti Naum Monastery in Macedonia. Still on the lake, it made for a beautiful stop. The peacocks surrounding the monastery were majestic. Never realized they could fly as high as they could, and they put on quite the show. You would have loved it, Kass!
We waited for a bus that never came, and so then decided to give our thumbs a try. Before long we were on our way with a priest who had just given a baptism that morning. It was a lovely coastal ride up to the town of Orhid and very much appreciated.



The giro. Every evening without fail, between 6:30 and 8:30 everyone comes out to enjoy an evening walk along the water (or in Berat, one of the main streets were used). It reminds us of a parade, but for any occasion. There are vendors selling sunflower seeds and ice cream...and everyone walks, leisurely. Although it is social, it isn't as well. It's more of see and be seen, whilst greeting your neighbors. We found it to be a rather good tradition.

leaving Albania

Sveti Naum

...and because he kept spinning around...
wanted to share the full view with you too!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Our time spent in Albania was a unique one in that we got to spend a large majority of our time in the town of Berat. An interesting experience to be sure. Called the town of "1001 windows" complete with a castle on the hilltop. A village still resides within the citadel walls, and for still being in Europe, you feel drawn back in time. Where horses and donkeys are still used to plough fields. The roads, or lack of road in places, are always a major discussion point among travelers and tourists, as well as the rubbish 'collection' or lack there of. Many things may change in the upcoming days, but for now it is just the experience of being in this place. So, take it for what it is...the bus schedules are 'flexible', prices are considered cheap, the stuffed eggplant is amazing and drinking raki is a must.

We took a communist tour which explored many of the bunkers on the surrounding hillsides. It is said that over a million were built in preparation of a possible invasion by Russia that never came. Most have fallen into ruin and are also used for farming purposes, animal shelters and places to escape the sun.

view of the castle and citadel

We were able to attend the Folk Festival in town, although usually outside was moved indoors due to rain. Hard not to feel a political pressure due to the upcoming elections, but amazing music, most of which has probably never been recorded.

a view towards Gorica

the church on the hillside

a fig and cherries

Bogove Waterfall

Tortoises are everywhere here.
Faster than your average and quite the climbers too!

Ended up working at a hostel, meeting many amazing travelers who came through. Enjoyed our time sharing stories and just being in this place. Look forward to seeing all the finished renovations.
Thanks again for the ridiculous adventure, Scott!