Monday, December 31, 2012

Explorations of Eastern MK

Upon waking up in Sofia, I started my last long drive back to Skopje that I would take. I found I loved the symmetry between arriving at Sofia when I first came to Macedonia and when I was close to leaving- I was making the same trip to Skopje but this time I was doing it on my own. The day was perfect- the temperature was great and the sun was shining. It was a bit hectic to get out of Sofia. I was searching for the next big town and it was a bit difficult to see the signs and the gps failed me. Eventually, with a keen sense of direction, I found my way out of the city and on my way to MK. The roads were virtually empty after Sofia. I loved being able to just take in the country side as I drove, blaring the radio (not really understanding a whole lot, but hey).

Once I crossed the border (no problems and no fun stories), I stopped often for pictures and just to look. Following signs and the handheld map, I made my way towards the stone dolls. Legend goes that these dolls were a wedding party that were cursed by the forsaken other bride. She turned them into rocks. There are supposedly about 120 stone figures and range in size up to 10 meters high. Scientist say that the figures were formed 10 million years ago my tectonic erosion. Chose to believe either legend, but locals swear new ones appear every year or so. On the road back to the dolls, I kept just saying- well the signs said to go this way, so it must still be back this way and over this scary little bridge and through the field. And I was right. Suddenly there was the entrance to the “park.” I guess there is sometimes an area that sells food (or used to) and an area to picnic. But for little alone me, I just walked over to the dolls and made my way up to the top to photograph them all.  Tons of nature and relaxation. I wanted to just sit and read and just look around, but I felt the need to get going so I could get back to Skopje before dark.

On the road again, this time I was headed to an ancient observatory, recognized by a registry of historical sites. Part of the renovation of the area around it was sponsored by the US Embassy. I made my way following signs and around tons of little corners and mini villages (avoiding kids and goats). I made it up to the site and thought, I will just hike the rest of the way- knowing it was a bit far, but thought it would be nice since I had made great time….However, there were about 8 bees per square foot and I am allergic to bees. Haven’t been stung my one in a while, but didn’t want to try it out on a hike all alone in a foreign country. So I got back in my mini car and tried to drive up the mountain. Not so great of an idea due to recent rain, but I didn’t get stuck and decided that pictures would just have to suffice for this trip. I was able to get some pictures of the observatory and when I go back to MK (and have a 4 wheel drive), I will actually walk up the top of the observatory.

I made my way back to Skopje, just in time for the afternoon traffic. Parking in Skopje is always interesting. I’m sure there are actually parking laws, but no one seems to follow them. So I always try to find a way to park and hope not to get a ticket….this time was no different, but it was always an adventure.  I was able to just relax the night away and get ready for the next part of our adenture!

See you around the globe!

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