11/19/2013 – 138 days/14453 miles

Next stop was Lake Ohrid, on the border of Albania and Macedonia. I stayed on the Macedonian side, at one of my favorite spots yet. A little hostel run by the most hospitable couple I’ve ever met. They made their own wine and rakija, and handed it out very freely.
The town of Ohrid is really old…the original fortification (which was later built upon to become Samuil’s Fortress) dates back to the 4th century.
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St. Sophia Church, some date it to the 800s, others the 900s…either way, old…
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St. Panteleimon Monastery
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Old Mosaic floors around the Monastery
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Ancient Theatre, built around 200BC and still used today. Only the lower level of it still exists, and it’s unknown how large the upper levels were.
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Sunset over the lake

I took a pretty long route from Ohrid to Skopje. First step was to get out of the clouds by riding above them.

This is the Grave of the Undefeated, located in the town of Prilep. It was built in memory of the uprising against Fascism, which started in Prilep in October 1941.
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Around Prilep is where the whitest marble can be found, and it was used to build the white house, and the pedestal under the Statue of Liberty.

Makedonium is a famous attraction in Kruševo. Unfortunately, it was closed, so I couldn’t get a look inside.
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And my last stop along the way to Skopje was Mavrovo National Park, where this church is being consumed by the lake

As I was nearing the city, for some reason I started thinking about driving a car. Last time I really drove one was in July, other than a trip of about 3/4 of a mile while I was working at the winery in the Czech Republic. It was kind of weird to think about, as before this, I was driving almost daily. And I just kept wondering what and when I would drive next.
When I stopped for the night, another guy staying at the hostel saw I was on a bike and asked if I had any tools…He’d just bought a Fiat Zastava and the next morning would drive it home to Spain, but he needed to make a couple minor adjustments first. Once everything was in order, he let me take if for a spin (read: get lost) in Skopje.
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I love how intense driving a car like that can be.
Finding a gear required a little getting used to, but even after that, it seemed like 50% luck.
The first 95% of movement in the brake pedal was all play…you’d push and push and push, then prepare to slam into the car in front of you, then the brakes would finally engage, bringing you to a stop just in time.
Oh, and to top it all off, once we stopped, my seatbelt wouldn’t unbuckle. It’s hard enough to get out of a car that size when things work out. Factor in trying to swim through a fastened seatbelt, and things start to feel a little claustrophobic.

A few days before coming to Skopje, I was told that I’d find a lot of statues throughout the city. Once I arrived here, I immediately realized that every resident has their own personal statue. It’s a great little city (amplified by the fact that the last city I was in was Tirana), but really, you’d think they would’ve decided to ease up on the statue construction and maybe put that money towards something else.
No shortage of places for birds to poop in Skopje…
These guys could use some help from Melissa Bachman
Here’s a walking bridge, lined with statues
200m away, another walking bridge, thankfully they didn’t let this one go statueless.
They have so many statues with regular horses, they had to throw a roided up one into the mix

Seems like they’ve even started making ones of random unknown people, such as Creepy Harp Played by a Creepier Lady
And this guy, trying to grab the ass of anyone passing by

The Old Bazaar in Skopje is the second largest bazaar in the Balkans, just behind Istanbul. And like any good bazaar, you could find pretty much anything there.
I kind of wish we had one back in Denver…I think I’d make a monthly trip there, only to see what five random things I could leave with.
Two visits worth of random purchases to this bazaar would’ve made me the proud owner of a wood burning stove, watch band, wig, €500 note mousepad, grocery bag of tobacco, shower curtain rod, starter fluid, 1/4 cow, fireworks, and a live rodent trap.
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And a couple more from around the city.

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