Wednesday, 17 July 2013


I can't quite put into words the experiences of the past few days.  Macedonia is a fascinating country, stunningly beautiful.  It reminded me a bit of South Africa, in both terrain and in the levels of visible poverty contrasting with visible wealth.  We were there to celebrate the wedding of one of The Boy's closest friends, and so on top of the disorienting experience of being in a foreign country, I was also surrounded by people speaking a language (Dutch) that I don't understand. 

There are so many photographs that would help me to describe the experience but that I did not take (because time, or circumstance, or just not wanting to feel like a rude tourist sticking a camera in someone's face prevented it)...
... the roadside stalls piled high with watermelons, fresh from the fields;
... the peasant farmers riding horse and cart being overtaken by BMWs and Audis;
... goats being driven along the quiet country lanes;
... the mountains looming above us as we drove along a terrifyingly steep and winding road;
... the hotel we stayed at, redolent of a former-Communist hostel, the opposite of luxury, and long lazy days of sitting in the shade to try and cool down, before the party began again in the evening.

I did manage to take some photographs, though. 

The wedding took place in the forest, a wonderful setting with a rushing stream, cool glades in which to sit, long tables laden with food and drink, a traditional Maceondian brass band folllowing the bride and groom around (first two photographs are thanks to Thomas, who generally manages to get much better pictures than I do!).

The traditional Cyrillic script of Macedonian.  I love seeing Coke bottles - that most capitalist symbol of globalisation - from around the world.

After a weekend in rural south-east Macedonia we spent Monday in Skopje, the capital city.  What a strange contrast this was.  The Boy described the experience of being in the main square after our time in Bansko as, "like going from District 12 to The Capitol" (one for the Hunger Games geeks there!), and he was precisely right.  The square is stuffed full of insanely overblown statues and fountains commemorating Macedonian heroes such as Alexander the Great.  Chic cafes and restaurants line the square, selling Western food and drink to designer-clad Skopjans.
Further from the centre, the city resembles a much hotter and poorer Berlin: crumbling Communist-era concrete buildings, graffitti and, bizarrely, red London buses, which I failed to get a photo of. 

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